CCU introduces new intelligence command center

Coastal Carolina’s Department of Intelligence and Security Studies is opening an Intelligence Operations Command Center (IOCC). 

Jonathan Smith, Intelligence and Security Studies (ISS) department chair said the command center will be a place for students in the ISS department to get an understanding of what a real intelligence facility is like. 

Joseph Fitsanakis, director of the IOCC explained the center has a chain of command and functions like a real intelligence facility. As director, Fitsanakis is chief executive and under him are six Special Security Officers (SSO) who are responsible for maintaining security protocol in the command center. 

Clay Penegar, special security officer, explained this system is in place to imitate the structure and hierarchy of an official intelligence facility. 

“In a real-life sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) these are basically a manager of whatever happens inside this secure briefing area,” Penegar said. 

In the information department of the facility there are six mission centers and each have a director. Each mission center gathers their own focused data and presents it to their senior analyst, who then briefs the director of the command center on the group’s findings. 

Fitsanakis said intelligence analysts must be able to gather and assess data about a problem that they may know nothing about and explain the situation to a decision maker so that they may make informed decisions.  

“Ours is an actual simulated intelligence command center with all the components of an actual facility that you would see in the CIA or the NSA,” Fitsanakis said. 

He said students in the IOCC will have statistical classes, war simulations, and nationwide security threat simulations. 

Sarah Gabriel, special security officer, said students must be a part of the chanticleer intelligence brief if they want to join the IOCC, although regular intel students can come in to get work done and get a feel for what it’s like to work in an intel facility. Gabriel said her involvement with the IOCC will help her in her career search after college. 

“It just shows we have experience working in the environment that we will be, and not a lot of students get that,” she said. 

Smith said the IOCC is being funded by CCU’s intelligence operations budget. 

“With regard to the creation and budget for the lab, I would be remiss if I did not thank Provost Ennis and Dean Bornholdt for their support in bringing the lab to life,” Smith said. “Their support was elemental in making this happen.”