My Name is Hilary Hope Minkler, I am twenty-seven years old and working to complete an American History degree with a minor in intelligence studies. I am originally from Morgan Hill, California where I graduated Ann Sobrato High School in 2009 with a 3.6 GPA. The entirety of my family still resides in Morgan Hill and I visit my Mother, Father, Sister, Brother-in-law and new Nephew frequently. While a majority of biographies that you read will be from individuals specializing in an intelligence or security field, my life has been and will continue to be devoted to the same.

After attending less than a semester of college at Gavailan Community College in Gilroy, California, I decided to join the United States Army. I attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson and directly followed on to Fort Huachuca Arizona where I was awarded with my specific job as an Intelligence Analyst upon completion. My first assignment was with the mighty, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado; during this assignment I fluctuated between several intelligence positions before landing the billet that I would deploy with. Throughout this fluctuation I worked in a fusion cell as an Al Qaida in Iraq Analyst, as a subject matter expert for all operations occurring in Ninewa Province, Iraq, a security manager, and then I found my calling as a current operations analyst.

While working as a current operations analyst the headquarters of my unit was called upon to deploy as the higher headquarters of Southern Afghanistan. Encompassing four provinces, Zabul, Daykundi, Uruzgan and Kandahar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I deployed early with nine other soldiers of various ranks, I recall feeling magnanimous that the nation had called on us and we were answering with excitement and readiness. Overall, I spent over a year working in the Joint Operations Cell, where I tracked over 11,000 significant events and was able to explain to the commanding general what threat organization was tied to attacks and what Afghan contingency was repeatedly being targeted. Additionally, I took over trend analysis and production to create a picture for operational planners and analysts, to better protect American forces on specific routes- featuring what type of attacks were most likely to occur against them while operating in the Area of Responsibility. This was the first point in my career where I truly saw the impacts that analysts and intelligence professionals can make from single source to all source, when working with operators on a mission.

Directly following return from Afghanistan, I was reassigned to Joint Base Lewis McChord after successful completion of the United States Army’s paratrooper school. After earning the parachutist badge, I joined 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in their all source production section. Due to heavy deployments and operational exercises I took control of the section and quickly imparted my intelligence requirements, learned with the 4th Infantry Division with the soldiers below me. However, I had a lot to learn concerning the special forces community in how they did business and what their expectations were. I struggled for the first year, however due to excellent leadership- found in the Counterintelligence cell, I learned quickly and with unwavering support.

After spending two years in this section, I was asked if I would like to deploy with one of our lower echelon’s staff in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first female noncommissioned officers within a special forces battalion, to this day there are still only two in my battalion. In December of 2016, I joined the staff in Kuwait as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Special Operations Joint Task Force’s Joint Intelligence Collection Enterprise.  Due to classification my duty description remains mute, however I began working with counterintelligence which is where I gained understanding of how large the threat, especially while working in a joint environment can be.

Although Kuwait only counts as a hardship tour, I can honestly say this tour was the one that took the hardest toll on my mind, body and life in general. There are six other countries/organizations at minimum operating in Syria and Iraq, understanding all of them took me so much more time and dedication that understanding the Afghan problem set. I had seven soldiers working beneath me and one junior staff sergeant that required a great deal of support and training as well. However, I was provided with one of the best commissioned officers and warrant officers that I have ever worked with and possibly will ever work for while serving. My captain was probably the most brilliant man I have ever met, with an ability to work five problems simultaneously while understanding them fluidly. My chief warrant officer, had by back with whatever I needed support in, from advice with soldiers to the person that explained historical problems still effecting the battlefield.

After a six-month rotation we returned together from Kuwait, where I was requested to stay within 2nd battalion due to my hard work, rather then return to my previous section. I did not take this lightly, as noted there is only one other female noncommissioned officer within our ranks. Although this is prestigious, sometimes it has flaws, such as, there are no female latrines in our entire building, I walk a quarter mile to use the bathroom. While this annoys me and numerous other patriarchal items, I find joy in being an intelligence professional, there is satisfaction each day when I return to my home, and solace knowing that there are other professionals out there safeguarding us and our way of life while forward and while sleeping in our beds at night.

I hope one day to have done the corps such a service as Staff Sergeant Richard Eaton Jr. did, earning the appurtenance of the Knowlton Award reflects great credit upon the intelligence professional that he was. He paid the ultimate sacrifice, which for members of the intelligence corps is marginal to this day. Understanding SSG Eaton’s dedication to the mission emboldens the importance of our jobs in protecting national security and interests of the United States Government, I hope that throughout my tenure as it continues on in the United States Army, that I can impart the same trademark on my successors.

You can read her Press Release here.  You can read her essay on the Understanding the Counterintelligence Threat Through A Case Study of Ana Belen Montes.