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Interview with Frank Sutton [3/4/2003]

Alan Pendergast:

Today is March 4, 2003. My name is Al Pendergast I'm a Sergeant Major in the United States army, and I'm working with the veteran's history project. We're at my apartment, which is in El Paso, Texas; and today I'll be interviewing Sergeant First Class retired Frank A. Sutton, who retired from the US Army in 2001 and then went on in to become a civilian soldier with military intelligence civilian executive career at Fort William. Thanks for joining me today, I appreciate it. Why don't you tell me about when you first joined the army and what the circumstances were surrounding that.

Frank Sutton:

Oh, gosh, I was a seventeen-year-old kid in Bakersfield, California and I enlisted because I wanted to get some money to go college. Initially I enlisted to become a medical lab technician; and unfortunately, I broke my arm and lost out on that MOS opportunity and became a Nike-Hercules missile repairman.

Alan Pendergast:

You broke your arm, so then they wouldn't keep you in the medical field, huh?

Frank Sutton:

They wouldn't keep me in the medical field.

Alan Pendergast:

Right.

Frank Sutton:

They said they would discharge me, and I'd have to start all over again, so I chose the electronics program that they had at the time. I didn't know they were going to be phasing it out in a few years--Nike Hercules, very fast, anyway. So, I departed in October of '81 and came here to beautiful Fort Bliss in El Paso. I just remember it was October, it was windy, it was cold--basic training, breezed through basic training. I had done a cross-country right out of high school and had no problems, with the exception of push-ups. We did a lot of events related to basic and AIT and then we went on to a following AIT for a 24 unit. In order to become a Nike-Hercules repairman, we had to go through a crew members course first then and follow on with the repairs electronics course--basic electronics. Subsequent to that course, and as my enlisted--enlistment contract, I went to Europe. I went to the 42nd United States Army Artillery Detachment, which was part of then the 5th United States Army Artillery Group of the 59th Ordinance Brigade in Europe--the largest brigade in Europe. We went to a custodial unit and then we worked on special weapons--Nike-Hercules special weapons. It was a custodial; in other words, it was a--we worked with the Germans closely on these weapons, as was done in Cold War times eventually ____? Europe and Germany was--it was very security conscious. It was like we had the different terrorist organizations and the nuclear organizations running around content to protest. It was a whole different environment being in the lower German sector outside of Bremen in a little town called initially Rautenfeld, and there were three batteries, two American batteries as part of the sub-battalion. I was--I worked at both detachments and each detachment had several different teams under each detachment. So, we would have three, A team, B team, C team and D team of the firing detachments for the Nike-Hercules. It was--I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed the assignment but it was--I mean it was long, arduous work hours within a lot of hours, 24 on and four off and then another 24 on and then we had a full day off, 24 hours. I was on this assignment for three years, actually approached the end of the assignment. I was closing down the site because system was being phased out. We came back to Fort Bliss, Texas and because my MOS was being phased out they were rerouting us over to Patriot, which was a new system, just taking most of us to go out to White Sands and combatted my first Patriot missile. I worked an assignment while I was assigned with the Allied Student Brigade. Germany was great and I liked working with allies. I really enjoyed working with the Germans, and I had a--while I was there I really wanted to learn German, and they made a really positive impression on me. So, when I got here I worked with the Allied Student Battalion and enjoyed it, for about a year. Because they were phasing the system out, I was being moved over to deal with some of the Patriot stuff. I choose to chance MOS's and I literally sat down and went through the MOS book and went through every MOS and said "what is it I want to do?" And I decided I wanted to have more interaction with people, and so I found a 97 Bravo to be kind of intriguing, and so I started pursuing and researching how to find--how to become a 97 Bravo at that time, which is counterintelligence. It was difficult, no one really knew the procedures for applying here at Fort Bliss, so I went to the MI office here at Fort Bliss. I found out procedures, followed through and I was accepted and went on to the counterintelligence agents course at Fort Watchuka and in December of '85 until May of '86 when I graduated. I graduated the--that course, the first assignment was to the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade which was just forming--it had really just begun in '84 and so it was still very new and trying to establish permissions and so forth and I PCSed down to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and I didn't realize that I was going to stay on the road a lot starting that. The first eight months there, painting vehicles in order to camouflage desert. Taking off the OD green and transitioning them into a desert pattern. Working number of vehicles details not a lot of job experience or anything like but then an opportunity came up where they created a program with foreign counterintelligence sector--that's where every CI agent aspired to be and really wanted to get there some time during his career, and when he did get to that agency, he never wanted to leave--that was the ultimate for us. ____ (4 seconds) to get to that organization. Well, they had started the program and selected--the three of us that were selected to participate in the first federation of that and we went down there and augmented the FCA for--for about six months--loved it and getting exposed to high profile investigations and creating Army spineheart (ph)language that never existed before in the hour of little briefcase phone technique reports, twenty four hours a day and then working a lot of long hours with very, very top--I mean really made a impact on me--on CI professions and they really took the time and trained roughly. After getting exposed to that for six months, it was hard to go back. In fact, they were trying to work to re-enlist an option possibly to stay there because I had done a very good job down there, but things didn't work out. So, I had to--they ended my TDY and at that time went back to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and I was back there for about a month before being sent to Egypt on a Bright Star exercise for five months and I get there, the time was--I got there a couple months ahead of time. We received all the soldiers as they were coming in and briefed them on the threat, worked with the Egyptian Intelligence Services in order to find the current threat and is was then to our soldiers hid in the ground. Briefed every aircraft, my team and I, we had four people that were a part of my team and we hit every aircraft but right as the aircraft was landing, we were on the planes. We were giving them their threat briefings, their boarding procedures--should anything come and happen, where we were located and then get them off the plane. If we didn't catch them on the plane, then we caught them in the staging areas as they were in processing and all this, you know, and some of them had special concerns, so we gave them a one-on-one briefing. We did things a little bit different back then. We were more proactive in getting out the message to _____ (2 seconds) there was a--there was a significant threat. Then, for about five months I came back; I had lost a lot of weight. One of our soldiers had gone through a really bad heat exhaustion, and we got him evacuated and I myself got really sick with gastroenteritis and was hospitalized for a couple months--hospitalized for a couple of weeks with antibiotics for a couple months to clear up the infection. Finished that deployment and then another opportunity came up when I was offered--asked to, as part of another program, to deploy to Yemen. Then, it was North Yemen and North and South Yemen, and so, and that would have been 1989, January. I deployed to North Yemen Sana'a and augmented the defense attache office there. It was a real unique experience. I had been in Germany, but I had never been exposed to any Middle Eastern countries. I had been exposed to Middle Eastern people by virtue of the assignment I that I had in the allied student battalion at Fort Bliss, but this was totally different. It was great, it was--here I am assigned as an operations coordinator working with the defense attache there, a person I truly respected Colonel Bob Allen, who was just an awesome boss, I mean, he just gave me total latitude. I was sitting in a Sargent Major's position as a Sargent evot(ph) and he--he was great, facilitating all the VIPs coming in and out of the country, doing country clearances, working the functions of the attache office, as they are supposed to be done, working with other agencies, activities in the office; and it was a blast, a truly great experience. Getting to see the country, even there was a war going on between North and South, appreciating the poverty that the Yemenese experienced. Then, learning about that history, living with between North and South Yemen, they are the second and third poorest country in the world, seeing how they lived day-to-day, no running water in the country, you'd have to--just learning that culture, they were truly, truly-- individual level, meeting the people and it was great interaction. I really--that's where I became, I guess, first fascinated with the Middle Eastern culture. Wherefrom I left there in June of '89 and returned back to--we had an incidental attack on the embassy, an RPG round came in through the ambassador's bathroom and caved in the embassy and so we were running kinda with a chicken--chicken, like a chicken with a head cut off trying to find out who did what and everything, and it was-it was a different time in the old embassy and not very secure, just an old building and someone had just aimed RPG out through the--from a wall, you know, maybe 25 feet away, wired it out and shot the round off. The weapons, you know, the ratan(ph) people walk around. It was like the wild, wild west, so it was a whole different world. I left there and returned back, pretty much was there a few more months before I was able to get--get myself language--scheduled for language training in Monterey. I went out to the city of Monterey for German language training in '89 and graduated with a 3.7 grade point average coming out of DLI,and my first assignment as a CI, I actually thought now I would get out there and do the job finally. I had all these little-- I had already been exposed to FCA, which is like the epitome of doing a CI job out there and so anything short of that wasn't, in my mind, really conducting counterintelligence functions, because that was at the national or joint level and now coming back. So, after DLI and then I would've--I graduated from Monterey in June of 1990 after going through the earthquake and everything that happened out there (laughs) with the gas leaks and all that and being without electricity or water, having a newborn baby and wife and going through the stresses of studying sixteen hours, you know, school and an additional eight hours a day and just being immersed in the language training. I was looking forward to get into an assignment where I could use it, and that happened in about July of '90 when I was assigned to the 527th in my batallion detachment. It became--it was initially detachment 6 of the 527th which was in Augsburg and became detachment 9 and then it became Augsburg military intelligence detachment under the 18th of my batallion. That was a great assignment, I was around agent work. I arrived there, worked a lot of significant cases and we had one case, The Augsburg Six that ultimately made it to a Current Affair, and we had some other cases, we were--that was day-to-day, real, truly counterintelligence work. The Wall had just come down, so we had all of that transition occurring at that time. They were bringing people, people were walk-ins and volunteering their services. I mean, it was--it was just so much CI work going on and because of the opening--everything opening up the way it did, it created a lot of opportunities, and you saw Russia starting to dissolve, so all the other countries starting to dissolve. It took the 527th and my battalion, and what they did is they took away--they stripped the staff out of it and they made it into a one single company. Here you had a batallion of over 400 counterintelligence agents and probably about 80 civilians that they have just now taken the staff away and turned it into one company and so they were looking for--and then they were relocating the headquarters out of Kyrgyzstan and making the big move into Ouchtin(ph). So, what happened was Captain Brady had come up once before and I had, you know, facilitated him coming in, didn't know him, never met him and Captain Bill Brady came up and was doing part of a survey team and I had met him in the PX, found out he was coming from K-Town(ph). We went out to dinner, we talked and I kept in contact with him. He came back and he said "you know, I want someone like you to come and work in the company office". And I was like "yeah", I wanted to get out of the detachment and get into more operational mode, per se into a staff mode to, you know, round myself better in a career, and he said "I've got a couple of other guys that'll be coming in, also Jerry Parsons and a Warrant to Doug Egyl(ph), you know, who I truly admired, and I said "yeah". So, everything got on board, and this would have been about the '92 timeframe, June '92 and as we were putting things together we were trying to take the army training, you know, the new training program that had just come out and we were identifying, our mission essential task list and we were deriving our mentees, our individual task and we were working on the--at the soldier development plan and certify all the agents and when they came in, this was what they needed to know to succeed and it really, I mean that was kind of my project, that was what I spearheaded in the whole training for that company and what we decided is, in order to get everyone to validate a standard, we needed to come up with a plan to train these agents and get them located down so that we, collectively as a company, knew and could vouch for their training and the Warrant officer and I, Doug and I, and Jerry and I had the commander's back and he said, "let's, you know, let's start doing these, how do you say, exercises to get tamps(ph) with, get this stuff up for contingencies, we'll bring these people in. We have identified all these tasks that an agent needs to know that complements, not only his agent skills, but the soldier skills that we he would need if he has to go into a contingency, and that's what we did. We took this soldier development plan with all the individual tasks and profiled it, overlayed it over the company task of the contingency, a team task that needed to be accomplished to include, you know, the maintenance of vehicles, the chemical protective postures, the communications piece and we would develop a training plan to get these agents trained in that. We didn't have a specific contingency mission yet, although, Macedonia was coming along. There were problems and all the precursors to the, you know, Bosnian and Yugoslavian conflict and everything else--that was, that was all starting to hit. We--the first time I'd really seen it that we were really proactive in developing something for something that was just on the verge of being--starting, and so we started a contingency operations of training and we worked up all the procedures, the manuals, I mean, we put together this whole, whole mission training plan for this type of stuff. Long hours, long hours, I mean there were nights, probably four nights a week, you know, I would spend in the office doing briefings, working on task for this when the individual task was pulling from all these different places to get this material to put together into something that was not just a show piece, it was a really working document that had a lot of need, and when we did it, we were being validated, and we did. We brought three teams down, we worked a scenario up, we handed in equipment, we had told them, as--because we were geographically dispersed all throughout Germany, when they arrived they need to come with a complete kit that fully complemented each other, so there was a lot of synchronization to get this done. And when they arrived giving classes, I had this scenario we had to set up for the basic living in the back. We had them run cable lines, we had them--we developed this thing called a--what was called a trip, all it was--we were new into automation but we had worked some secure telephones out with some RS-232 going through the back into the secured cryptoelements, so people could talk through the telephones and communicate electronically, you know, passing data back in a secure environment and this hadn't been done before, but we wanted to validate that we could do that. So we set that up and there was a mobile kit, basically to do this and later, you know, it turned into chats, then turned into chims(ph), I think is what it's called now but it's--I mean it's by a graph but it started off with trip and then it was a theater rapid response intelligence platform package, and it was just a basic communications tool so even as they were doing their work forward, they could communicate to the rear in a secure capacity and pretty much on the fly wherever they could get power and a telephone and that's two basic assumptions that we could get--either generate a power and the telephone line or, you know, in a commercial hotel if they had to go somewhere and need this, we could do this to get their information back quickly and it worked, it worked. It felt great to watch that piece develop, you know, and I got a lot satisfaction along with that. It was still ongoing at the time I was getting ready to depart it would have been July '93 when I received orders to the National Training Center. I went out there, a CI agent getting assigned to electronic warfare and I took it. I became a Platoon Sergeant out there operations platoon. I was very unfamiliar with electronic warfare and having had to do security investigations in support of those companies there in Augsburg but that a whole other experience with knee surgery problems and all that. Did service field first Sergeant out there, a number of rotations--I set up where NTC became, we added some new dimensions to NC-NTC. We facilitated the first ever--we got the Air Force involved portraying the world-class threat model with the airborne jamming platform, trying to make the forces more security conscious--room for more security conscious about this jamming potential and we tried to really enhance their security and their operational security there and communication security, because we would intersect and jam and, you know, in essence we knew what they were going to do before they were going to do it or we would manipulate, you know, we provided a force on force environment for them but they came down to the basics also. They were learning the terrain, being able to shoot, move and communicate, which I wasn't impressed, I was not impressed at all with bluefour(ph). As Optfour(ph), we never lost a battle. We never lost, we never lost, and it was sad to see that we had, you know, bluefour(ph) coming out with rotation after rotation after rotation and losing every battle. We were proven because of the terrain out there all the time and we knew the terrain out there but we were--the equipment that we operated with was called Sheratons(ph) and then we went up against, you know, M180s and A2s and we were using visual modified Sheratons(ph) we were performing our own maintenance and we were still winning every battle. I had--my assignment position was deleted and then I was nominated to go to FCA, Forward Counterintelligence Center, an activity I wanted to do my whole life and I was excited and I said "okay, finally", and after all this time we were going to make it to that location and so I packed up my wife and two kids and headed off to Fort Meade, we arrived at Fort Mead and I met up with my old Sergeant Major Lenny Gibson, who had been my Sergeant Major in '82 and Lenny says, "Frank, we've got a job for you, but we received a call last night that I can't keep you. I know you've been here ten days, and I know you've got ready to move in the house and everything and you've exhausted your temporary lodging allowance, but INSCOM has decided that they were going to take you down to Fort Bellmore(ph) in New Jersey--Fort Bellmore(ph) in Virginia. I was just shocked, you know I was disappointed and I thought I was finally getting to activity where I wanted to work and well, where is it I am going? Well, you're going to INSCOM Headquarters and there is a colonel down there by the name of Mike Tingsley(ph) at--he's gone through your, you know, your record and he thinks you'd be a good match and he needs some people down there that, you know, can get things done to create a new activity that will-- it's something new, this is--was basically what I was told. It's gonna become information warfare--information operations, cyber warfare. I didn't have a clue what that meant. So, we had it all--I mean, basically packed my bags, told my wife I had to go down there and ended up staying in a hotel for about thirty days out of pocket in order--before we could get in quarters and right into the job and so, I was here and I walked into the US army Intelligence Command's basement basically and opened up the doors and nothing. Everything was empty and the Colonel walked in with my and introduced himself to me and said "I'm Mike Tingsley(ph), and this is gonna be Lela(ph)." I loved working for him--great visionary. He sat down with me and explained to me what Lela(ph) was going--or he hadn't even named it Lela(ph) yet, but the activity was gonna become and it was going to deal with information warfare, information operations with--it would handle computer emergency response for cyber warfare. He was going "Frank, do you know anything about computers?" And I said, "Well, I used to own a Commodore 64 and I had a Commodore and I upgraded and I got a 128 and I attended some basic computer courses on Apple 2Es and 2Cs but that was the extent of my computer--other than working with the trip earlier and having an electronic warfare background on the MPCs." And he says "well, that's why I picked you, because you're well rounded, you have the CI aspect and the Hument(ph) aspect and you've got an EW in there and you came from an electrical background--electrician. So, you looked well-rounded, and that's why I wanted you". He says, "you know, this, this activity is yours, I mean--I'm giving full latitude to build it" and we did. This was '94 and I stayed there till '97 and started off with the strength of about four people, and when I left, we were well over 150 people and earmarked to grow throughout the world and we had stood up--we army's computer emergency response team, which handles intrusions and detects intrusions and army networks worldwide and coordinates a response to those, and hanging out a download center to pick--for viruses for actually a databasing and cataloging intrusions and anomalies on the networks that the Army owns and great assignment. Then, taking information operations, which is a much bigger scheme of things and formulating doctrine for trade off and participating in that and I felt really privileged to have actually see my concepts in my mind actually put into Army publications, FM 100-6 information operations. I mean, I played a major role in that, writing of that FM and I can still go through it and read it and see my words that--that I wrote the whole logo for, for Lela? And that was one day just sitting down doing a PowerPoint that I came up with the logo for--and the colonel said "this is great" and then, what I guess was seeing my boss on the cover of Time Magazine--Cyber war, you know, interviewing Mike Tingsley(ph) in '96 and that was the officer setting up the interview and actually getting interviewed by Time Magazine and what this concept would be and we had so much support. He supported me with everything I did; I felt privileged and just would have stayed there, you know, the rest of my life to work with them. He retired though and went on private industry and we got another Colonel in there, Colonel Stevens, another visionary. These guys were just visionaries and they would just give you the latitude just to go and execute, which, you know, for Senior NCO, that was great. Just let you invent it, and they give you an idea and let you execute. It was just awesome having that. I tried to early retire. The army was downsizing all its CI at that timeframe. E7 CI agent's positions were now being reduced to E5s. They wanted younger agents, they wanted younger warrants. It seemed like they were pushing experience out the door. I didn't like this. There were no opportunities for promotion. They had reduced our strength, the E8s, from well over 300 down to 50 in the army-- the 97-Bravo counterintel. I was appalled with this. You know, I thought CI agents, you need, you know, it takes a long time to groom a CI agent and I'm still of the opinion that you don't just look for younger agents, which will be a whole lot of historical comprehensive knowledge that is accumulated as an agent works different cases or different areas or with different things that when he comes in as an E7 or an E8 and he comes in to conduct an investigation or analyze a situation, those--those things, he needs to have as a backdrop before he can put anything on paper so he has a perspective of what could or could not have happened and what risks there could potentially be. The younger agents, I didn't believe, and I still don't--have that --that base knowledge from which to go forward with. I just, I was--not having worked in a whole of agent work, I worked in all the computer stuff, I saw the need for CI being meshed with this information operations and I mean, CI could play a big role in this. So, I would talk to my boss Colonel Tanksley(ph), and Colonel Tanksley(ph) was of the opinion hey, let's take this information operations that we've put together here and let's start exposing the CI agents too, and so we picked it up and we briefed the advanced counterintelligence training force to go up there and I'd go with them and we'd explain this approach to them and as this thinking. So they would begin to start thinking about, you know, where these critical nodes may be because they're the people person in the CI agents, the other guys are out briefing these people, the systems administers and so forth, and there needed to be crosstalk to find out what was going in the potential for weaknesses in that for the counterintelligence perspective and they agreed. So, things were running smooth and I thought I was going to be early retiring and moving on into private industry in the area of information operations cyber warfare and become a certified Unix systems administrator during my off time there. I was taking college courses in the (coughs) computer information systems arena and unfortunately, as the Army is, you know, you receive assignment orders, and I was resigned to the 650 of MI? With duty initially in Heidelberg and then it was changed to Geilenkirchen and when I finally got there, I was working in Geilenkirchen in Germany in a NATO airbase and--for about three months before I was moved to region 4 headquarters Bronson to run their Networks and become the Chief for investigations in region 4, not a good assignment. That occurred in January of '97 and coming in there the same way, it was like an organization that had been dormant for a while and wanted to get things up and running. I worked with--that's where I started a program where we're gonna take--get out there and start briefing, and I started doing road shows with my Belgium counterparts with one of the organizations that we supported there and then going up and finally linking up and giving combined briefings with the Danish when I was in Denmark, with the Norwegians and then we went to Norway with the Dutch throughout the different NATO sites with the Dutch and these were collective. They were briefings that were done from a combined perspective--perspective, it's not just a US guy going in and briefing a NATO audience. It was a US and US and respective country counterpart briefing, added a lot more credibility and we started getting phone calls on the potential investigations and all of a sudden, you know, the investigations become overwhelming and enhances the security environment for NATO and region 4, we had the most investigations going on and we were doing the most reports, we were busy, and we were--we were really outpacing the actual people that we had to do the investigations but we managed. I truly enjoyed that assignment--it was awesome up until I was involuntarily extended for six months because of--as a result of an investigation. We were supporting, not only, the NATO operations at these six different countries, but we were supporting the NATO operations and the forces downrange in Bosnia and Sarajevo; and although, I did not deploy down there, many of our investigators deployed and I would pick up the functions, I was the guy in the back to keep the offices afloat and going to Denhay(ph) in one of our detachments so it wouldn't close and we were being augmented there for three months while our guys were there--in that office there in Bosnia. We had gone to Norway and augmenting that office while people from that office deployed and also bringing the investigative experience up there that--that wasn't as profound as it needed to be, and then running the investigative aspects of investigation in Heidelberg and also in Geilenkirchen, Germany, Ramstein and there in Buxheim(ph) and others, and as I was approaching my eighteen-year mark, I was, you know, I tried to early retire a couple times but turned down and my marriage and all the that time on the road--my marriage eroded. I was working with the branch manager to try to get an assignment to Monterey and it did come through because I wanted to get back to California but since my marriage was ending and financial reasons, you know, there was no way I could support two homes so I decided to take a remote assignment. My wife and kids and I would separate and they went to Washington State, and I took another assignment to Qatar. Qatar is a little country in the Middle East. I left there, I went there in May, the latter part of May of 2000, and I was assigned to another unit that, you know, seems like we were either building something up or tearing something down in my career. Only approximately 30-35 Americans in the country, I mean, 35 military--Army military in the country, and I was assigned to a counterintelligence office I had to--I had to support--conduct port protection, conduct counterintelligence support in the port protection process for the soldiers and what was going to become--becoming, and another unique environment as a liaison officer working with Qatar counterparts, security counterparts, members of the royal family--it was exciting, exciting time. I served there until June, it would have been November of 2001, but because of retirement terminal leave, I retired (cough) and departed there on the 24th of September and then came back to California to visit family for a little bit and then took a MISUP(ph) position, MISUP(ph) being military intelligence civilian accepted career program. I was offered a GS13. I accepted the position and I would come in and put together--put a 513th on my brigade, a computer forensics element that was designed to do an infrastructure protect--to build one. It never--it didn't exist or it was rudimentary in its existence and I to get this on board quickly along and ___ I had to define the mission because no one really had a handle of where this where this thing should go. So, I put it down on paper, staffed it and working it. This section comprised of three people and I was the Chief but Chief op (end of side 1) ____? Again and I had been exposed to these empty rooms, so comment back on people that I had knew from Leva(ph). I was able to get some monies down into the--into the program, identify it and define what was going to be an initial operating capability. I wanted to validate the--the initial operating capability and then I wanted to take it on the road and test it, which is what I did in getting a forensics piece together and we successfully took that to Belgium, assisted the 650 because they had a need. We validated and tested for mission of a deployable capability and after doing that, I came back, I sent a team out to do that, after doing that, I then briefed it to our battalion brigade and--and it was at this time Afghanistan was kicking off and every time I'd sit there and read, about here in the papers, about how a computer was captured or hard drive was captured or laptop was captured. I was just, you know, I knew we could do something with it there on the battlefield, and I, I mean, I pushed hard to say hey, we got this capability, let's get it over there. Our soldiers are forward; our soldiers are doing the interrogations, they we were coming across these people. We can bring this capability over there and augment it. I was able to finally sell that to the command, and they decided, let's do it. So, I took our platform forward to Afghanistan in March of 2002 and with a week stop in Kuwait, I educated the leadership on what this equipment and I could do, the kind of benefit that we could potentially bring back if we were given the opportunity. I was given the opportunity and I was going over there-- I went over as a--kind of to hold down two jobs, one to become a reports officer for the QC of all the intelligence reports coming out of human debriefings and interviews so--of the detainees and secondly, to perform any tactical digital media exploitation of any captured equipment up to eight in the country, second day I hit the ground, you know, we were getting tacked with the digital media and computers and so I'm working this one piece, I'm working the other piece and putting in lots of hours, a lot of hours--and it's working, I mean we're bringing back stuff that was, you know, decrypting of passwords, bringing back documents that are significant intel value--providing this information to other activities that--that need it quickly and so it was also going back and being useful to our interrogations to determine where these computers may have been and who they actually belonged to. So, there was a big value added with this and it felt great to kind of like a pioneer of getting these things on and then working back with another group of forensics element and another organization say here, this is good stuff. This is what we're doing; I'm going to write a concept of operations for this on how to flow and how it should work. Sit down with William Commander who, in my opinion, again, is brilliant and a very hard working S3 that asked the right questions, Major Carstens(ph) and Colonel Saxton(ph) and formulated a very solid comment to these things for the future and as the time wound down from 513 to get ready to refill back, it was determined, you know, that this media stuff--we'd come over there, we had tested it and succeeded with it. There was no other activity or entity in the Army inventory that could continue with this except for us. You know, I felt that that was probably a big loss but we realized that the 513 couldn't do it for the whole Army on a continual basis and as we were transitioning on the 18th with coming in, we'd pull that functionality out--out of the ____(3 seconds). I went back to Fort Gordon for a little while to try to get some other people earmarked and stood up the training program to get those that would to be designated into the site that counterintelligence technical element for doing these infrastructure protect or assistance with computer forensics and so forth and getting those guys on the training program for anyone that was coming in. I worked at that training program, got a couple people in--hired and then I choose another column to come out to--back to Qatar as an ops officer because they needed an ops officer--one that was there and was being promoted and they needed a replacement. So, I went back up to Qatar for another six month stint and out there _____(3 seconds) until I returned and subsequently went back to Qatar again and I resigned from the MISOP program and on the 26th of February. That's me in a nutshell.

Alan Pendergast:

You also have a future. What's your next job going to be?

Frank Sutton:

Well, I'm going back now. I just took an intelligence specialist position. I've been grandfathered with the National Capital region in Washington, DC. I don't have a starting date yet, I received a job offer, and I think my going there and working in that area--I think I can continue to sell some of my ideas and visions that I think--where CI should go.

Alan Pendergast:

Ok well, just to go over a few things because I think you might have even minimized them a little bit. I know you know they're important but the contingency ops course that you worked later turned into a --what was the name of that course report at Fort Watuchita(ph)___(2 seconds)?

Frank Sutton:

Yea, they--

Alan Pendergast:

Counter intelligence force protection service operation course--

Frank Sutton:

Right--

Alan Pendergast:

--and that was the embryo, if you will, in the con-ops course, which grew up into a DA certified course in which all agents go through in Lewa(ph), you know, that's an amazing thing in and of itself?

Frank Sutton:

They've since renamed themselves first Information Operations Battalion and they housed what was called the Information Dominance Center. They didn't have an intelligence piece which synchronizes all the different intelligence sign and becomes everything that's coming in and give a--give a tactical commander full spectrum picture of areas that that he may potentially have to go into. Yeah that is--

Alan Pendergast:

And the last thing--doing the computer forensics in Afghanistan in the operations officer and obviously the ops officer had control and--over all those counter intelligence teams running all over Bosnia and Qandahar and Uzbekistan and all over the place and with you and your reports and conducting first level analysis but the computer analysis--the computer forensics stuff and I know you can't go into detail on that for classification purposes, so we can only just imagine capturing Al-Qaeda and Taliban personnel and getting their computers and you know, you--

Frank Sutton:

The amount of data that were in these computers to analyze was, I mean, typically, you know, you have what is called a document and there are basic procedures. A soldier goes out and he finds--he tags and bags any--any of the documents, maps and those types of things, that's common soldier function but now we're in a new age where these guys are running around with laptops and they're being able to connect their laptops into satellite phones and communicate with people all around the world and hard drive, which you know, represents some of the sizes of hard drives and the size now of 40 gigs in the laptop. 40 gigs is, you know, 200 four-drawer or five-drawer safes worth of documents. Taking these analytic forensics tools and doing string searches for languages that I don't understand and having scripts built and those kinds of things to deal with the specific languages throughout Afghanistan--the urgu(ph) the Pashto, the Dari, the Farsi, I mean, the arabic and having to, you know, siphon through all these documents for what, that little piece of a puzzle that might save a life or catch another Taliban or Al-Qaeda operative somewhere. It was a lot of work and, you know, you can't be a so thorough that you lose sight of the battlefield perspective and that's what I focused on--was that initial triage. I would go through the stuff as it pertained to the battlefield that I was in and in the area that I was in. I couldn't look at the big investigative picture for that but we evacuated it, I mean, quickly I took an image of it--I worked it when I could, as I could, for a battlefield relevancy while the main piece and the hard drives and so forth were evacuated back for the higher echelon triage or major surgery per se, so.

Alan Pendergast:

Okay, well, I just wanted to close this up by saying thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me, and I appreciate it, Not only you doing the interview, but everything you've done for the military. The intel field is one of those fields that doesn't get a lot of recognition because there is not a lot of bright lights and glamour in it, but obviously you made a difference in it and thanks, I appreciate it.

Frank Sutton:

Thanks.

Alan Pendergast:

All right.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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