Education & Training

Educational Approach

ISA believes in a blended approach to education.  Depending on the type of training, we can combine a variety of teaching techniques that may include podium presentations by subject matter experts, featured guest speakers, in-class exercises and case studies with student presentations and discussion to allow students to apply their knowledge in real-time, and the use of other media.

Tailoring Your Course

If ISA does not have an existing course or set of modules that meets a client’s needs, we can design and develop the necessary training. The flexibility of ISA’s curriculum allows us to serve each of our clients very precisely. ISA achieves this customization through consultations with the client to be certain that we understand the desired learning objectives and meet those requirements.

Course Portfolio

1. Analyst Training: Writing, Analysis, & Preparing Briefings

Analyst Training:  Writing, Analysis, & Preparing Briefings is an introductory course for either new or relatively new analysts who have had little hands-on experience in analysis, writing and briefing or for analysts who want to improve their current analytical writing skills.  The course focuses on allowing analysts to be more effective thinkers, writers and communicators sooner.  We examine the role of intelligence in the policy process and then offer an introduction to analytic skills, beginning with critical thinking and reading, writing analysis, and preparing and presenting successful briefings. Much of what is required for good analytical writing takes place beforethe analyst actually begins to write.  The scoping and planning of the intelligence analysis therefore are major areas of emphasis in these courses, as well as issues of format, length, word selection, etc.  The two-day courses ends with an in-class exercise that seeks to give the students a chance to practice what they have learned.  The three-day course devotes the third day to a capstone exercise, giving the students a more extensive and in-depthopportunity to practice their new skills.  Exercises and capstones are designed to reflect the areas of interest or concern of the client.  This course is offered as a two-day or three-day session.

2. Congress and National Security

Congress and National Security Congress and National Security ​ the role of Congress across a broad range of national security issues – defense, intelligence and foreign policy and through diverse activities – hearings, investigations, budgets.  This course is designed to give individuals more accustomed to working with Executive branch agencies a better appreciation for this equally important component of the government.  This is a one-day course.

3. Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking focuses on a key aspect of analytic tradecraft, the ability to think through a series of conflicting and competing data, but doing so in a manner that is self-aware of the quality and integrity of the thought process.  This course is specifically designed to reflect the standards for analytic integrity and tradecraft as prescribed by the ODNI in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203. Using case-based discussion leadership as the predominant teaching methodology, augmented by several facilitated discussions, this two-day seminar introduces the students to intellectual virtues or traits useful in critical thinking as well as the barriers to critical thinking; structured analytic techniques; and allows  the students to apply ethics in analysis.

4. Cyber Security: Risk & Mitigation

Cyber Security: Risks & Mitigation – Cyber attacks have focused the attention of senior managers, corporate officers and boardrooms in all sectors on their exposure to cyber risk. The pervasiveness of cyber in an organization’s daily activities raises both vulnerabilities and opportunities.  This training   emphasizes vulnerabilities, the inevitability of cyber-attacks, corporate and legal responsibilities, and the managerial requirements to understand the risk and how to mitigate its impact.   Designed to provide the understanding and familiarity that corporate managers and leaders need to deal with cyber-related issues that will affect their enterprise so that they may begin to assess their relative risk in cyber and how to mitigate its impact. The goal is to better guide an organization while making the best trade-offs given the ever-present cyber risk.

5. History of U.S. Intelligence

History of U.S. Intelligence reviews the major events and trends that have shaped U.S. intelligence, from its colonial pre-history through the current day. Among the issues covered are: responses to external threats; the role of technology; espionage; Congress and partisan politics.  This course gives attendees a much better context and understanding of the major forces that continue to influence or determine U.S. intelligence policy. This is a one day course.

6. Intelligence and the Law

Intelligence and the Law examines the legal and policy framework that governs the U.S. Intelligence Community. It presents the core legal authorities and restrictions — the Constitution, statutes, and Executive orders — and explores how and why they are applied to the conduct of U.S. intelligence today. Designed for a wide audience, the course reviews the history and evolution of intelligence law and policy and provides an in-depth look at selected laws that affect intelligence activities. Topics include:  Covert action; congressional oversight; privacy and civil liberties including electronic surveillance, FISA, and other restrictions on the conduct of intelligence; protection of sources and methods, classification, and leaks; the role of the DNI; and the laws and relationships that govern the fight against terrorism. This is a one-day course.

7. Intelligence Collection

Intelligence Collection is a two-day course designed to explain how technical intelligence is collected; its limitations and advantages; how that intelligence supports policy makers and military operations. This course will be of use to a broad array of intelligence professionals – all source analysts, collection discipline specialists and analysts, and collection managers who need to understand how collection assets work in practice and the challenges of managing and interacting across collection disciplines. The course also will be of value for the national policy and military communities who use intelligence products in the furtherance of U.S. national security objectives.

8. Intelligence Community 101 (IC-101)

Intelligence Community is a course tailored for new intelligence officers, with presentations on the structure, mission and main issues facing U.S. intelligence and intelligence officers, regardless of agency or function. Topics include policy maker goals, issues in collection and analysis, the role of Congress, legal and ethical frameworks, and many others. The goal of the instruction is to provide the students with an understanding of key events in the history of the IC; the Intelligence Cycle; sourcing for the IC budget (National Intelligence Program and Military Intelligence Program) and the role of Congressional oversight (HPSCI and SSCI); the role of each of the 16 IC organizations, the major IC occupations, and the value of working joint IC projects through collaboration; the mechanisms and value of information sharing, partnerships, and teamwork; ODNI major components and functions; the Joint Duty Program goals; key events that shaped the ODNI’s establishment and contribute to its vision and leadership in the IC; how ethics and values underpin decision-making and mission accomplishment in the IC. Exercises enable students to apply their knowledge on a real-time basis. Case studies are conducted as a means of both enhancing the learning experience and testing the students’ knowledge of the material. This is typically a four-day course.


9. Intelligence Community: An Introduction

This course is typically offered as either a one or two-day course. In the one-day session, we offer a broad introduction to the major current issues in U.S. intelligence, typically including the current structure of the Community and the role of the agencies and the DNI; collection; analysis; current national security issues; the intelligence budget; and the role of Congress. This is an appropriate course for those who are fairly new to intelligence issues or as a refresher for those returning to intelligence issues. In the two-day session, we provide a broad overview of the roles, functions and activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community.  This course is specifically designed to provide government employees or contractor professionals who work with Intelligence Community clients a firm basis for understanding the Community’s roles, needs and culture and the issues that they face today as the Community deals with a new structure and new threats. This course places special emphasis on the changes that have been implemented since 2001 and how they are progressing. We also incorporate threat and/or collection exercises into these sessions. These are particularly useful in helping the students to begin applying their knowledge to real problems.

10. Intelligence Community: Advanced Seminar

This course provides a more in-depth examination of many of the issues covered in the introductory course, with a greater emphasis on viewing these as Community-wide issues at the managerial level. This course is designed for current or upcoming managers who will be supervising programs and staff in support of the Intelligence Community. The Advanced course also includes exercises to begin putting the course information to use.  This is a one to three-day course depending on the number of modules selected.

11. Intelligence Process

Intelligence Process covers in detail the issues and stress points that exist in each stage of the intelligence process or intelligence cycle:  requirements, collection, analysis, dissemination, policy consumption and covert action.  This one-day course examines the interdependencies of each step in the process and includes the role of executive branch and congressional policy makers in each stage of the process.

12. Intelligence Resource Management

Intelligence Resource Management thoroughly examines the financial management of intelligence resources in the federal government­.  This course provides students an in-depth understanding of the intelligence budget components, the creation of the budget in the Executive branch, consideration of the budget in Congress, and the actual expenditure of funds. Covered in detail are the National Intelli­gence Program (NIP) and its com­ponent programs and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP); the resource manage­ment systems used to formulate budgets for these programs; the roles of the Office of the DNI and the Under Secretary of Defense/Intelligence in formulating and coordinating the NIP and MIP; the role of the President’s Office of Management and Budget; the con­gressional budget process, with special emphasis on the authorization of intelli­gence activities; and highlights of budget execution.  This is a highly interactive three-day course with many in-class exercises. We also have an abbreviated two-day course without the reinforcing exercises and additional materials used in the three-day course.

13. National Security Policy Process

National Security Policy Process examines the role of the interagency process in the formulation of national-level security polices and intelligence. It provides an overview of security policy and strategy development and reviews the institutions, mechanics and output of this complex dynamic. The course reviews the roles and responsibilities of the White House and NSC, departments and agencies, Congress and the private sector. Through a critical review of relevant case studies, the course improves understanding of the national security decision making process and provides a practical foundation for policy consumers and intelligence analysts.This course complements our intelligence courses by providing a firm policy context. This is a one-day course.

14. National Security Policy Seminar

National Security Policy Seminar offers an extensive exploration of the key processes, players and factors that influence U.S. national security policy.  The issues discussed include the national security policy process; bureaucratic cultures of key players; the interconnectedness of the various aspects of national security, including law, diplomacy, defense and intelligence; the role of Congress; the role played by external factors such as domestic and global economics, health issues and the media; and the challenges presented by transnational threats, counterinsurgency, radical Islam, energy security, cyber security, etc.  The course includes lectures, guest speakers and a variety of in-class exercises, including a capstone graduation exercise.  This course is either a one-week or two-week course, depending on the preferences of the client.

15. Using the Internet as an Investigative Tool

The U.S. Intelligence Community estimates that some 80% of the intelligence it seeks is in open source intelligence, OSINT, meaning anything that is not classified or proprietary.  At the same time, the Internet is a largely unstructured and unauthenticated body of data.  Using the Internet in successful searches and investigations requires more than the rudimentary knowledge with which most people approach it.  This one-day course is designed to improve students’ ability to use the Internet for very specific, targeted investigations, while also keeping in mind legal issues and the issue of internet security

16. Regional Seminars

ISA will bring together experts in a given region (former government officials, academics, journalists, business) to explore the current issues in that given region and their importance for the United States. These are usually one to three-day seminars