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Defence HUMINT: An Airman’s Story

One of our personnel takes us behind the scenes within our Human Intelligence team Please note we can’t share their identity due to security reasons.

02 November, 2021

I’d heard of Human Intelligence (HUMINT), but only through rumours. A place where experience counts more than rank. A job split between overseas deployments and down-time back in New Zealand.

After applying to do the assessment, I searched the intranet to see what I’d be in for but found nothing. It is a well-kept secret between those who’ve gone through the process and don’t want to spoil the experience for the next intake.

Looking back now, the assessment was a lot of fun but at the time I felt like a kite in a storm, my attention grabbed from every direction by the staff who piled on instructions without giving feedback as to how you were doing. Somehow, I made it to the end of the week and was astounded to learn I’d been ‘deemed suitable for further training’.

Fast forward eighteen months, I found myself in Trentham with eleven strangers in a rough-looking fenced-in compound containing empty office rooms and a windowless shipping container that looked uncomfortably like an interrogation centre. Thankfully that’s where the resemblance ended.

Defence Source Operations (DSO1) is a course like no other. Frustrating, empowering, emotional and immensely rewarding. I was guided through 15 weeks of awkward meetings, complex tradecraft planning, late night map studying, and precise report writing by one of the NZDF's most experienced HUMINT operators whom I now work alongside.

Breathing a huge sigh of relief, I passed the course and was posted to 1 (NZ) MI Coy and immediately sent to a MIQF.

Okay, it wasn’t the most glamorous introduction to the intelligence trade, but since then it’s been exciting, rewarding, and I’ve quickly got up to speed.

While we’re still a long way from where we want to be, it’s a privilege to help build the foundations and culture of one of the Defence Force’s most niche and globally relevant capabilities.

The Defence Source Operations Assessment (DSOA) is the gateway for all Military personnel interested to pursing a path to the NZDF Defence Human Intelligence (HUMINT) capability.

Originally published in Air Force News Issue 240 (pdf, 2.2mb)