Air Force Office of Special Investigations
Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition
September 25, 2006
"AFOSI - Deployed, Total Force in Action"
Moderator: I want to introduce Mr. Douglas D. Thomas, Executive Director, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. He serves as the Senior Advisor to the AFOSI Commander, oversees the AFOSI Special Investigations Career Program, and is responsible for executive level policy coordination, liaison, and representation to national and international organizations. Prior to his appointment he was Director of AFOSI Japan.
Iíll turn the podium over to Douglas Thomas.
Mr. Thomas: Good morning. This is the first time Iíve been in a briefing where the heckling fans were larger than the audience. [Laughter]. My boss is sitting here, this is a little bit scary. General Simmons, thanks for being here.
Most of you guys who know the Air Force well associate OSI with the criminal mission, and thatís true. We still have that felony level investigations service for the Air Force, but a good portion of what OSI does today is counter-intelligence. But today what the presentation is going to focus on is our deployed mission.
Itís an honor and a privilege to come to this group and speak, and I always have a pleasure when I get a chance to speak about OSI.
Those of you that are in the Air Force, youíre pretty much aware of what OSI does day in and day out with regards to crime, fraud, and counter-intelligence, so this presentation is not going to focus on that at all. Instead itís going to focus on what we do for the Air Force in a deployed location. I think some of you will be pretty surprised.
Before I get there I do want to set the tone a little bit as far as a little bit about OSI in case youíre not that aware of it.
We have eight regions and what they are, theyíre equivalent to Air Force wings, so we have eight equivalent wings in OSI. We have seven squadrons, 115 detachments, and [90 OLs] located worldwide. We fall under the purview of the Air Force Inspector General. Some rub that a lot of the Air Force people might have is that our Air Force personnel on an installation donít work for that wing commander, but we were set up that way for a reason.
All this is is a breakdown. It shows you a simple mix of what OSI looks like.
Probably the biggest thing thatís changed over the last ten years is our mix. What I mean by that is, our civilian force has increased quite a bit and our officer force has decreased some. But make no mistake about it, weíre still a military organization and always will be one.
You can read the mission. What Iíd like you to focus on is the first bullet under the usual. Thatís what everybody kind of associates OSI with, the fraud and the crime especially and a little bit on the counter-intelligence side. Well 50 percent of our mission today, 50 percent of our resources, are counter-intelligence related. The other 50 percent is crime and fraud related.
Iím kind of proud of something. Last month we passed the $1 billion mark in recoveries for the Air Force through our fraud mission. Thatís a lot of money, $1 billion. I donít know what OSI costs today, but I know itís around $300 million, so for us to recover $1 billion for the Air Force, weíre paying for ourselves.
The new part of what weíre doing is the IED post-blast investigation. Iíll talk a little bit about that later. Support AFSPC special access. Support to AFSOC. But our growing mission, of course, is the expeditionary mission.
If you guys or gals have any questions during this, please ask, because itís certainly not a canned presentation.
OSI still has responsibility for felony level investigations, the crime, fraud and CI side of the house. After 9/11 and with OEF and OIF, weíve had to make some dramatic tweaks to what we do for a living in order for us to stay relevant with the Air Force. Weíve had to change our priorities quite a bit. Itís been a little bit painful, to be honest with you, but the challenge has been met.
One of the changes we did is JTTFs. The FBI formed a Joint Terrorism Task Force after 9/11 and theyíve got them at most of the major cities around the United States. So far today weíve got 24 OSI Special Agents embedded in those JTTFs and thatís projected to grow a little bit, to be honest with you.
What this has done is that allows us to work jointly with the FBI on investigations and operations, but the other thing it does, it allows us to share information and take information from the Bureau relative to terrorism in the United States. Although the United States government has tried very hard to do better at information sharing, weíre still not there yet, but avenues like this have helped us greatly with the Air Force.
Another area that weíve grown in is force protection detachments. If you guys remember a few years back, the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen. The Cole Commission got together, one of the biggest recommendations they made was that in transit locations, specifically for Army, Navy and Air Force, were not covered. If there wasnít a permanent presence in Location A, B or C they werenít very well covered by counter-intelligence personnel. So what the force protection detachments are set up to do is itís a joint office -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- and weíre in those in-transit locations -- Thailand, Philippines, Australia, lots of places down in South America, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil. Our job there is to provide kind of an advanced warning, if you will, and on the ground threat information to forces flowing in. So if itís an Army force flowing in or a Navy port going to happen or and Air Force plane coming in, weíre there to provide them with the threat information before they get there and while theyíre there.
Weíre in about 20 different locations right now and we expect to go to about another 20 more.
These guys and gals that go into these jobs are extremely well trained. They all get their language training, they all get immersed in their culture, and theyíre all very much counter-intelligence trained, so itís a pretty strong force.
This is Special Agent Luke Tickner. He was the first OSI member in Iraq and he was one of the first of the Air Force personnel that crossed the borders into Iraq. This is in Talil. This really started a new era for OSI, if you will. I mean weíd been supporting deployments, going back to the Vietnam era, weíd been supporting deployments forever, but this is kind of a new era for OSI and Luke kind of kicked that off, if you will.
What I mean by new era is, if you go back to the year 2001 before we started the massive deployments, this picture would have shown you about 10 personnel deployed worldwide. Today itís up to 232. Last week it was 225. Itís up to 232. And FY07 projections are that itís going to probably grow even more.
We support the warfighter in a very diverse way. This is just a sampling of some of the things that we do for the warfighter, the commander over in the deployed area.
It doesnít list everything, but it lists most of it. Iím going to talk to some of the missions as I go through this.
One of the jobs we do is protective service operations. When we have a dignitary, it could be a US government, US military, it could be a dignitary from a coalition partner and when theyíre in certain locations they probably require some protection and weíll do some of those things. The hard car on the right is the only thing that really kind of survived this hit. Unfortunately, our protective service operations do undergo an occasional attack, maybe not a lot of attacks but an occasional attack. What Iím going to show you in the next thing is a film clip of a real live PSO that came under attack. If you hear a little bit of language that you probably arenít going to like, you just have to understand that these guys were under extreme fire and a little bit of excitement was generated, and forgive them.
[Problems with film clip].
Sorry, youíre not going to get to see the clip. What it showed was, it was about a two minute clip during a PSO and it came under extreme fire. What you would have had an opportunity to watch is how we evaded the attack.
I have to attribute how well we do this to our training. One of the things that weíve done a 360 degree on is how we train people in the deployments, and weíve got a special training for the PSE missions.
The bulk of our expeditionary forces are of course in Iraq and Afghanistan. Right now weíve got about 154 people over there. We have one squadron, 11 detachments, and several people supporting several different missions over there. Weíve recently added people to the Horn of Africa for --
[Portion missing from tape].
-- where Air Force intel has a hard time getting [into] is because that badge is our entrťe into that organization. Itís our common denominator with those people. I think it has helped us tremendously.
The way I approach counter-intelligence, I think itís a law enforcement issue. I remember testifying in front of Congress ten years ago, why law enforcement and counter-intelligence should be the same. Espionage is a crime; terrorism is a crime. Those are law enforcement functions, to collect information on terrorists and foreign intelligence officers, thatís part of our job. Thatís part of supporting the law enforcement mission.
Any other questions? That was a good question.
Question: I was curious, you said that [inaudible] locations [inaudible] community. What do you do if youíre unable to [inaudible]? [Inaudible]?
Mr. Thomas: That actually does happen. The question was what if the local population doesnít want to deal with us.
Iíll tell you, the US is not looked upon favorably by a lot of nations. That is something that [inaudible]. The fact that weíre in their back yard with weapons, with the military force sometimes doesnít endear us to the local population, but sometimes we develop solid relationship because weíre pretty friendly guys. Sometimes we [inaudible]. We recruit people and we give them [inaudible]. We give them kerosene for their house; we give them gasoline for their car; we give them food for their families. Our job is to build relationships, to collect information [inaudible], and we go about that, we just have to find ways, innovative ways to endear ourselves to the local populace. I use the Somalia examples.
I may not [inaudible], but if youíve got a sick child who needs first aid or an inoculation or something and I come walking down with a nurse or a doctor who is willing to do that to a bunch of children in the street, the parents are probably going to open up [inaudible].
Now it takes time to develop a relationship. I donít want a one-time [inaudible] with somebody and have them go away. I want to develop a relationship with them, and itís probably going to be sincere because I do care about the [inaudible], so I want to [inaudible].
How do you trust these people? We test them. We operationally test them. Just because they give us information, weíre not going to take them as black and white and as truthful. We offer [inaudible]. And if we [inaudible] lengthy period [inaudible].
Question: [Inaudible]. Being in Iraq weíve worked side by side [inaudible]. There are a lot of success stories [inaudible]. [Inaudible] logistics [inaudible] rations and things of that nature, [inaudible], CIA [inaudible] not only with just investigators, but common survival skills, tactical skills, getting out to [inaudible] and seeing. The OSI [inaudible]. [Inaudible] the Army that [inaudible]. Not that thereís any [inaudible], itís just that [inaudible] help the world on terror. [Inaudible] investigations and [inaudible]. Weíve had [inaudible] information. They [inaudible]. This could be a whole lot [inaudible].
I just wanted to say it is working. I say keep it up. [Inaudible].
Mr. Thomas: Your comment does not fall on deaf ears. If I could throw a stone to OSI, Army CID, Army MI and NCIS, thereís one thing all of us do a lousy job at and thatís [inaudible] to the people who make decisions [inaudible]. We donít do a very good job of taking those success stories and putting them into one bag and getting that out to OSD [inaudible]. Thatís [inaudible].
Question: What is [inaudible] rebuilding or institutionalizing [inaudible]? And right now the Army has [inaudible]. The way the Iraqis [inaudible] sale on [inaudible]. But I noticed that on the transition team that was training the Iraqis, a very small OSI [inaudible]. There were two junior OSI agents [inaudible] based on [your dual-hattedness] be perfect to assume a larger role [inaudible]. [Inaudible].
Mr. Thomas: Actually the answer to that question and your earlier comment is thatís the way we were allowed to play. When they set up the -- actually, back up a little. [Inaudible], but a lot of effort put into our active military and a lot of international effort was put initially into the [inaudible]. We saw that lag behind a little bit. The military started getting more into the law enforcement. When they set up a structure to actually put together the Iraqi law system, the footprint we were allowed to have was very small. Two junior people [inaudible], and thatís all there was from us. A lot of that had to do with politics with the other countries; a lot of it had to do with [inaudible]. Even those two junior people werenít really used real well. They didnít have a lot to do because the international community then stepped up and said whoa, wait a minute, we realize we kind of dropped the ball on this a little bit and the United States was moving in to help build the law enforcement capability more effectively. They wanted back in. So I think now [inaudible] the international community [inaudible]. But I even thing that for them the mission was [inaudible] and the Army only got one or two slices and the rest [inaudible] community.
So thereís been kind of an on again-off again effort to rebuild their law enforcement from a contiguous, methodical planned approach. And the international community does have a role [inaudible]. I think theyíre doing it now, but itís kind of [inaudible].
And a [inaudible] interest is [inaudible] now. Theyíre realizing the Iraqi military has got that right, but they canít do everything law enforcement can do and [inaudible] right, and [inaudible] local mayors who [inaudible] and take over [inaudible].
So weíve got a long way to go in there, and youíre right, our footprintís very small and I donít think itís going to get much bigger because of the way things are going right now.
But I know the FBI is stepping up a little bit more now. Theyíre playing a little bit more. Not a lot [inaudible]. So [inaudible] but I think over the next six months it will [inaudible] into a process that hopefully will bring the law enforcement movement to the capabilities that they need to, like [inaudible]. If they do that I think a lot of [inaudible] will be [inaudible]. But you're right. The footprint for us is small.
Any more questions? No?
Thank you very much.
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