AL ASAD, Iraq -- Sgt. Aaron E. Spivack can’t really talk about his job. He can tell you it’s important, and he can give you the basics, but don’t expect details, you’re on a need-to-know basis.
The Tucson, Ariz., native is the intelligence chief for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, and the work he and his fellow intelligence analysts do helps keep service members one step ahead of the enemy.
After graduating from Tucson High School in May of 2000, Spivack joined the Marine Corps as the first step in working with a federal intelligence service, a life long goal of his.
“I have always been fascinated by military intelligence, and joined for my future,” he said. “Since I was young, I have wanted to work for the FBI or the CIA, and I knew the Marine Corps would be a good start.”
Spivack arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for basic training Sept. 4, 2000, and after completing recruit training and Marine Combat Training he reported to Basic Military Intelligence Analysis school in Virginia Beach, Va.
In Virginia, he learned the basics of intelligence, both ground and aviation, as well as the other intelligence agencies within the armed forces.
After school, he reported to the Air Combat Intelligence Office of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.
During his first year in the Air Combat Intelligence Office, Spivack worked in various areas of the wing’s intelligence community. Rotating through each cell, he experienced and learned each aspect of his job.
With constant training exercises and hands-on experience, Spivack and his fellow intelligence analysts, would soon be using their talents in the War on Terror.
After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Spivack began working target intelligence in Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom from Cherry Point, and in July of 2002, he deployed with VMAQ-4 to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia to support Operation Southern Watch.
“We were doing all we could to feed our 2nd MAW assets that were either preparing to deploy or already in country,” he said. “In that environment there were a lot of things that posed a threat to the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zone. Our work gave the pilots and aircrews intel on what type of things they were up against.”
Returning home from Operation Southern Watch, Spivack was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division’s Task Force Tarawa for duty with Marine Aircraft Group 29, the aviation combat element of the task force.
The day he reported in at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C., he, and the majority of the Marines in the task force boarded a bus for Naval Station, Norfolk, Va., and he soon sailed on the USS Siapan for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The entire time, from the second we pulled out of port, we ran 24-hour operations,” he recalled. “Intelligence fuels operations. From the very beginning, we prepared the intelligence picture for battle planners.”
When the operation commenced in March 2003, Spivack joined the rest of the task force as they began the push towards Baghdad. Leap-froging from forward operating posts, Spivack and the intelligence team provided vital information for Marines, sailors, soldiers and pilots operating in southern Iraq.
“We were analyzing intelligence from all the agencies,” he said. “Our products not only helped Marines, but many units in southern Iraq.”
The task force halted in Al Kut, and it was there Spivack had the chance to go out into the city during humanitarian missions. On several occasions, he helped to bring food, water, doctors, blankets and supplies to the people of Al Kut.
“It was an amazing feeling,” he recalled. “It was great to know that you are helping people who have nothing.”
At that early stage in the war, Spivack said the Iraqi men and woman were hesitant to approach the Americans. As time went on however, he said they were well received.
“At first only the children would approach us— running up to our vehicles laughing and waving,” he said. “In time, most of the Iraqis warmed up to us, and it was great to help them.”
In late May 2003, Spivack returned to North Carolina and after working the summer and fall with the Air Combat Intelligence Office, received permanent orders to VMAQ-4 in November.
As Operation Iraqi Freedom continued, the Seahawks of VMAQ-4 continued to train and prepare for their upcoming deployment. Similar to his time in ACI, Spivack continued to train and advance in the intelligence field.
“The intel field changes at a rapid rate,” he explained. “If you are not continually training and working with the other agencies and units, when it comes time to do your job for real, you are not going to be able to do it.”
After a deployment to the western Pacific, where the Seahawks trained in Japan and Thailand, the squadron found out in July 2004 that they would be deploying to Iraq. In August, Spivack was meritoriously promoted to his present rank, sergeant.
The squadron arrived here in January, and have been flying missions in support of U.S. forces on the ground since. Serving as the squadron’s intelligence chief, Spivack said due to the nature of the squadron’s mission, the Marines of VMAQ-4 have been busy.
“We know we are having an affect out there,” he said. “Our aircraft play a vital role in protecting those Marines, sailors and soldiers on the ground.”
In addition to his duties as intelligence chief, Spivack also serves as the anti-terrorism, force protection chief, overseeing the security of the southern part of the airfield.
“It’s a good change of pace,” he said. “Our Marines are happy to be out there doing their best to keep our area as safe as possible.”
His work in the aviation, and specifically, the EA-6B Prowler intelligence community has not only allowed his squadron to continue to provide air ground support, but is helping to improve the strategical employment of the Prowler’s capabilities.
“Our work here has had a significant impact on the strategic level,” he said. “Our work has been seen by many generals in top organizations. Our assessments have helped shape the role of the squadron in a tactical environment.”
As he prepares to return with the squadron in July, Spivack said he is proud to do his part in this operation and looks forward to moving one-step closer to his life-long goal of working in federal intelligence.
“I have been fortunate to work in a variety of units, in almost every aspect of the Marine Corps,” he said. “If it was a six-month deployment or just a week or two, it’s been awesome to see all the sides of the intelligence cycle.”
*For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this story, please contact Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis by e-mail at defilippisrc@acemnf-