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CIA representative augments AWC staff

Posted 6/25/2010   Updated 6/25/2010 Email story   Print story


by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

6/25/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- An analyst from one of the nation's most secure organizations serves as an academic representative to Air University's Air War College.

Christopher Keast of the Central Intelligence Agency's Directorate of Intelligence is currently assigned to Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, as a special advisor and also serves as a full-time instructor at AWC in the Department of International Security Studies.

"Each of the service war colleges has a CIA representative, and we are appointed by the agency's director. I'm integrated into the faculty of Air University," he said. "My day job is to teach a classified elective course on the CIA and two courses within my department."

Mr. Keast said the academic representatives are in place at the colleges because they provide an opportunity for students to learn more about the CIA and hear a civilian perspective.

"In teaching the elective course, I talk about the CIA's roles and missions, and what it does and doesn't do with the military," he said. "I also invite high-level speakers from Langley (the CIA's Virginia Headquarters) to come to AWC, and that gives students additional opportunities to talk with real CIA employees."

Mr. Keast said his primary mission at AWC, teaching about the agency, is what he enjoys the most about his job. He also said interaction with the students is beneficial.

"I see the full spectrum of Air Force career fields in my job to include pilots, operations personnel, support officers and others, and that provides a great opportunity to get to know them and hear their stories," he said. "You really begin to see the strength of the seminar system because in that system you teach each other."

Mr. Keast said "wearing his AU hat," he sometimes does lectures for Air Command and Staff College and has spoken to a couple of the elective courses at ACSC.

"I have representational duties that are sometimes just a matter of showing the flag, and that is good," he said. "Often, CIA speakers that come to Maxwell will also give unclassified briefings that many base members can attend. We want to let people see what their tax dollars are buying, but we also have a responsibility to protect our government's secrets, which their tax dollars are also buying."

Mr. Keast has been at Air University for two years and will be here two more years before returning to Langley. He said prior to coming to Maxwell, his CIA analyst job required a lot of writing and a lot of briefings. His present job supports educating students about national policy makers, and he feels his many years at CIA headquarters has helped him with his AWC tasking because he knows the Langley operation from the inside.

"Also, working at Maxwell and living in Montgomery has been a fantastic experience for me and my wife," Mr. Keast said. "It has been an interesting change of pace for me having worked in the Washington, D.C., area for so long, and we really appreciate the lack of traffic here and the lower cost of living. And, I enjoy the interaction with the AWC faculty and the military members."

He said he was active duty Marine Corps then Marine Reserve before applying for his present position in the mid-1980s. His father, who was a career Naval intelligence officer and had done a tour at CIA, encouraged him to apply.

"Actually, I applied at a good time because there wasn't nearly as many applicants then as there were later," Mr. Keast said. "Beginning on Sept. 12, 2001, applications to join the CIA went up tremendously and have remained high to this day."

He said the CIA is involved in "a lot of interesting things" and has "a real sense of purpose and mission." Mr. Keast said once individuals are employed by the agency, a lot of opportunities open up to them. He has worked on a variety of projects in many different countries of the world.

Mr. Keast said he is appreciative of the help he receives from the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education.

"The LeMay Center has a small intelligence shop that provided us working space, and they have been a great resource for us," he said. "They are really good people, and we are appreciative of their technical assistance. I hope in some small measure we have returned the favor."

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