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Pellissippi State offers security intelligence

Security intelligence operations is the topic of a cutting-edge course offered for the first time in Spring 2008 by Pellissippi State Technical Community College.

The new course, the latest to be taught through the Security Engineering and Administration Technology program, will focus on gathering, processing and disseminating the information, or intelligence, necessary to protect important assets in a high-threat environment.

The SEAT program, launched in January 2006, prepares students to compete for high-paying jobs in corporate and government security.

To plan the course, John Sterling, program coordinator for SEAT, attended a 60-hour class conducted by SCG International Risk, a private company in Virginia Beach, Va. SCG specializes in training government and law enforcement personnel who deal with international risk situations.

Sterling says attending the training was an ideal chance to gain the latest knowledge that will be integrated into Security Intelligence Operations, a special topics course.

“Terrorists and criminals are becoming ever more technologically sophisticated, and security professionals must proactively plan to detect and deter those threats,” Sterling said.

“Pellissippi State’s SEAT program will always be expanding the curriculum so that our graduates are a step ahead of the competition when they begin seeking placement in this kind of job environment.”

The tactical Human Intelligence Operations course Sterling attended was conducted in a simulated hostile environment in and around a major U.S. city. Federal agents participating in another class served as the opposing forces for Sterling’s group.

To explain what he learned and will bring to the new course, Sterling provides an example:

“Imagine you are an intelligence or security officer, whether government or private sector, and you are sent into a foreign or domestic hostile environment. To effectively perform your job, you must obtain accurate information regarding the threat to your employer. To gain this information, you’ll need to make contact with a member of the local population or group — a potentially dangerous situation for both the security officer and the informant. In order to protect both the officer and the ‘source,’ the security officer will have to know how to communicate without being detected. This is the nature of covert operations.”

Sterling and other participants learned how to establish clandestine contact with an informant, using advanced techniques of operational tradecraft such as surveillance and counter-surveillance.

To find out more about SEAT or the new course, contact Sterling at 865-539-7272 or


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