According to an article in Florida Today that featured Gene Poteat of the AFIO, the battle against radical Islam and terrorism will continue for a long while. As a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), I have attended seminars in Tyson Corner, VA that Poteat has sponsored.
He is an interesting and knowledgeable guy. Poteat developed missile guidance in the 1950s on the Space Coast and knew little about the U.S. Intelligence Community or the CIA. As an engineer with Bell Telephone Laboratories, he had a crucial skill needed to keep track of Soviet missile development during the Cold War. Not surprisingly, the CIA tried to talk him into joining them, but he didn't know who they were! Now, as president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Poteat said the best place to get that (expertise) was in the area of Cape Canaveral, and he was lucky enough to be one of those people that was interviewed when he worked at the Cape.
Poteat spoke at last Saturday's AFIO Florida Satellite Chapter meeting at Indian River Colony Club, where he detailed moments in history when espionage played an important role behind the scenes.
I'm proud to be one of the 5,000 members of the AFIO since its major objective is to create interest in high school and college students for U.S. intelligence careers. For example, the Florida Satellite Chapter, where Poteat spoke, connects and mentors students in Brevard County and is expanding its outreach.
According to Jack Lee, vice president of the Brevard-based chapter with about 40 members, “We are trying to revitalize the chapter. We are in the process of forming a speakers’ bureau of qualified people that will go out and speak to civic organizations, schools and career fairs. We try to identify individual students who may be interested in pursuing intelligence as a career and hope to be able to help support them in some manner of stipend of scholarship.”
At the AFIO chapter meeting, Poteat lectured on how good spy craft changed the outcome of past military conflicts. Florida Tech students attended the lecture- students who are studying aviation security.
Florida Tech has offered the graduate course for a decade, and it must constantly adapt to changes as the war on terrorism evolves.
“Bad guys are getting smarter every day,” said Paris Michaels, Florida Tech professor. “They are savvy and a very sophisticated enemy, so we try to meet that level of sophistication.
We are talking about students who are going into a field that is on the front line and no one really knows how to do it. The threat keeps changing.”
Poteat believes the war on terrorism is being fought more on an intelligence battlefield than any previous conflict and presents unique challenges. He added,
“This war is a lot more dangerous and difficult than the Cold War ever was because you have an enemy now that doesn’t wear a uniform, they hide among the civilians and they love to die to kill you.”