Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team Fellowship
By Paula Middleton-Jameson
Formed in 2013, the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) falls under the direction of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which partners with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). JCAT focuses on the principles and framework of its predecessor, the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG), established in 2007 in response to recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
The team offers a unique 1-year fellowship for state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) first responders; public safety personnel, such as firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers; analysts; and public health professionals. Individuals selected for this opportunity assume an active role in designing and crafting counterterrorism-related intelligence products for state and local agencies and private sector colleagues and partners.
JCAT fellows work daily in collaboration with analysts from the intelligence community (IC) to share information with SLTT partners and the private sector by producing relevant, timely counterterrorism-focused products at the lowest possible classification for broad dissemination. Additionally, the fellowship affords the IC with a first responder’s active perspective and allows JCAT to leverage the resources that state and local partners contribute.
To qualify for the JCAT fellowship, individuals must meet certain requirements.
- SLTT law enforcement or intelligence personnel (sworn or unsworn), as well as DHS, fire, EMS, or public health professionals, serving in any of several areas may apply.
- Multiagency task forces (public health, law enforcement, fire, or EMS)
- Long-term investigations
- Critical infrastructure programs
- Law enforcement intelligence
- Homeland security (fire, EMS, or hazmat)
- Candidates must have a minimum of 3 years performing in one of these capacities—individuals with supervisory experience receive preference.
- The home agency’s chief executive must provide a recommendation.
- Applicants must be able to relocate to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and serve a 1-year detail.
- Personnel must possess or have the ability to obtain a TS/SCI clearance.
Reflections on JCAT Fellowship
Major Todd Coyt, Atlanta, Georgia, Police Department, JCAT Fellow, August 4, 2014, to August 7, 2015
What was your background prior to your fellowship with JCAT?
Prior to the fellowship, I was the commander of the Atlanta Police Department’s Homeland Security and Intelligence Unit. I interacted daily with the FBI on specific incidents and special events (e.g., presidential and dignitary visits and major sports tournaments). I was a member of an FBI fugitive task force where I developed a strong working relationship with the bureau. These assignments helped me develop an understanding that in certain environments not all information can be shared.
What were the perks of the fellowship opportunity?
The fellowship opportunity had many perks. I would have to say that one of the primary perks was the people that I worked with and met while assigned in D.C. Everyone at JCAT had a different background and different talents that they brought to the group. Being able to work and talk with them on a daily basis gave me an opportunity to learn many different skills and viewpoints.
What was the most beneficial part of the fellowship?
The most beneficial part of the fellowship was being able to take part in the many different training classes that I never would have had the privilege to participate in. The courses helped me gain a better understanding of the IC and also to build a network of contacts across the IC.
Did you acquire any new resources for your department (e.g., being added to a distribution list to receive intelligence products or new unclassified accounts, like LEEP)?
There are several resources that I brought back to the department that seem to be very helpful. I believe the new resources that I became familiar with will provide us with a wealth of information that will help us protect the citizens of Atlanta at a higher level.
What did you learn that you did not know before, or is there something you had an opinion about or thought you knew that changed as a result of the fellowship?
I was very surprised to discover how many “scary smart” people there are in the IC. Equally as important, I was impressed with the work ethic and passion they showed on a daily basis to complete their assignments.
Would you recommend the fellowship opportunity to colleagues? If so, how would you pitch it or sell it to them?
Yes, I would recommend the fellowship opportunity to colleagues. While I was on my fellowship, I recommended it to several people whom I worked with and also others at other agencies. I have sold it by stating it is a great opportunity to learn from people that you would never have thought you would work with. You would also be able to visit locations and take courses that you never knew existed. Come with an open mind, and the sky is the limit.
What made you consider the fellowship opportunity? What about it initially caught your eye or piqued your interest?
I became aware of the fellowship because of my role as the unit commander in the Atlanta Police Department’s Homeland Security Unit. I felt that the fellowship would offer an immense educational opportunity and a new challenge. I would be put out of my comfort zone, changing cities and jobs for a year. I would have to sink or swim. I feel that challenges bring about the best learning experiences.
What did you work on, or what were your responsibilities during your fellowship?
Some of my responsibilities at JCAT were to help improve information sharing between federal agencies and the state and local agencies. While at JCAT we helped collaborate with other members of the IC to research, produce, and disseminate counterterrorism intelligence products for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies. Last, but not least, we helped advocate for the SLTT and private sector throughout the IC.
Some of the ways I accomplished these responsibilities were by giving briefings to IC groups on the capabilities and mind-set of state and local law enforcement agencies. Many in the IC have little knowledge of the unique capabilities and resources first responders can bring to the fight. This lack of knowledge helps create a perception that law enforcement is limited in its ability to contribute and that it struggles to keep confidential information private.
How did the fellowship opportunity help you professionally (e.g., did you get an award or recognition from your home agency, or did it help you get a promotion or desired assignment within your department)?
I believe that the fellowship opportunity helped me professionally by letting me know that I need to constantly challenge myself in order to become a better leader, coworker, and employee. The opportunity also showed me that growth and development are the keys to making organizations better. Communication, knowledge, and trust are integral parts in having strong partnerships. In protecting the communities that we live in, we have to continue to build these partnerships.
Mrs. Middleton-Jameson is a management program analyst assigned to the FBI’s Office of Partner Engagement, Information Coordination and Engagement Unit.
For JCAT fellowship application information, call 571-280-1307 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.