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A Major Agency Success Celebrated 100 Times Over: CIA's Career Analyst Program

“CAP is one in the great success stories of the history of the DI."

-- Michael Morell
Director for

The Career Analyst Program (CAP) at CIA has been hailed as one of the greatest success stories in the history of the Agency and the Directorate of Intelligence (DI). It was created by senior DI leaders in May 2000 to provide new analysts the tools and tradecraft needed to be successful intelligence analysts.

Last week, the CIA celebrated this success with the graduation of CAP’s 100th class. Director for Intelligence Michael Morell was thrilled to open the graduation ceremony and welcome friends and family of the CAP 100 graduates. For this special occasion, colleagues filled the CIA headquarters auditorium, cheering on the graduates with an enthusiasm that would rival a college graduation. “CAP is one in the great success stories of the history of the DI,” said Morell before introducing the keynote speaker, Deputy Director Stephen Kappes.

The Creation of CAP

DI leaders created CAP eight years ago with one simple goal: to put new analysts on a path to success in the specialized and increasingly demanding profession of intelligence analysis. The course focuses on tradecraft, but also teaches analysts about the challenges of the intelligence profession: how it works, lessons learned from both our successes and failures, and how the DI must continuously improve to meet our mission.

A National Treasure

At the graduation ceremony, Deputy Director Stephen Kappes called the DI and the Career Analyst Program a national treasure.

“The United States has only one center for intelligence analysis that is global in scope and free of departmental influence. CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence has set benchmarks for analytic rigor, substantive depth, and objective integrity that are unsurpassed in the world.”

Present and past CAP graduates have seen the value of the program in the quality of their analysis.

“CAP provides analysts with a foundation of skills to be successful,” said Kate, a graduate of CAP 100. “It also allows us to network with people outside of our office and become more familiar with the Agency.”

Emilia, a graduate of the first CAP class in 2000, agrees that it is a valuable program.

“CAP quickly brought me up to speed on what exactly an analyst did and how we fit into the bigger Agency and Intelligence Community picture,” she said. “I returned to my team much more confident than when I left, and I believe that new confidence helped me make a better contribution.”

CAP Curriculum

The program currently involves 16 weeks of intensive learning of foundational analytic tradecraft and about the history, mission, and values of the Agency and the DI. CAP also places special emphasis on creating a foundation of analytic tradecraft skills for new analysts.

CAP is organized into a series of modules that fall into one of six categories that weave throughout the program:

  • Critical Thinking Skills and Techniques
  • Writing Skills
  • Briefing Skills
  • The Business of Intelligence
  • Collaboration Skills
  • History, Mission, and Values

CAP emphasizes learning by doing. Each module is reinforced by class participation in practical exercises. Task force exercises are used to challenge new analysts to perform demanding analytic tasks under tight deadlines, giving them practice in crisis management.

Each analyst also spends five weeks at an interim assignment to use his or her skills elsewhere in the Intelligence Community, the policy community, or the Agency.

Beyond CAP 100

The Career Analyst Program is dynamic; its curriculum continues to evolve in response to analyst and manager feedback and close collaboration with the Directorate, ensuring CAP embodies and helps lead changing DI priorities. Our goal is to instill the knowledge and skills necessary not only for how the DI operates today, but how it should operate now and in the future. The next changes to the curriculum will bring even more realism into the training environment, enabling analysts to “train like we fight.”

Visit the Intelligence & Analysis page for more information about the DI.

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Posted: Oct 30, 2008 11:55 AM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:07 PM