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Intelligence Analysis Course Deepens Student Understanding of Ukrainian Crisis

Headshot of Jason Bratcher

Jason Bratcher ’23 (Fallston, MD) drew on his interest in history and political science to turn his attention to studying Russia’s threat to U.S. national security.

When Jason Bratcher chose to study and write about Russia for his Intelligence Analysis National Security class in the 2021 Fall Semester, he had no idea Russia would attack its neighbor and former Soviet satellite Ukraine only a few months later.

As an Intelligence Analysis major, Jason knew that Russia was a main adversary of the United States and likely would continue to be a prime concern long into the future.

“I wanted to learn what I’d be facing in the real world when I go to get a job,” he says. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at York College of Pennsylvania, Jason plans to work at a government intelligence agency such as the CIA or Defense Intelligence Agency.

Jason partnered with fellow Intelligence Analysis students Michael Durant ‘23 and Brianna Chavis ‘23, both Cybersecurity Management majors, to write a chapter about Russia’s threat to U.S. national security in the book Intelligence Analysis: Domestic and Foreign Threats Confronting the Biden Administration. The Intel Analysis book is written by students yearly and its publication is arranged by Professor John Weaver and Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy. It serves as an updated resource for intel professionals.

The project wrapped up at the end of the Fall Semester, but as the lead author of the chapter on Russia, Jason is responsible for updating it throughout the publishing process.

A shocking turn of events

When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, “It was very shocking,” Jason says. “We didn’t really expect it. Near the end of fall 2021, we had started seeing some things that would have said to predict this, but at that point, we wouldn’t have pieced this together.”

Working on the Intelligence Analysis book wasn’t Jason’s introduction to Russia. He has been studying the Russian language and took a political science course that delved into the governments and politics of Eurasia and the former Soviet Union.

“We learned a lot about the history of Russia and Ukraine,” he says. “That helped put everything into context.”

Jason is still figuring out how to incorporate current events involving Russia and Ukraine into his chapter without making it a play-by-play of the war.

“The chapter has to be kept very vague in its first iteration so as not to create conclusions about things that might go out of date in a week,” he says.

The chapter has a much broader focus than just the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It examines Russia’s cyber capabilities and the country’s focus on the Arctic, issues that remain major national security concerns for the United States.

“I’m still looking for a good point where the chapter can be more accurate,” Jason says, “but the fog of war is blocking information.” 

The most difficult part of the process has been accessing the necessary sources. Only specific types of sources can be used for the book, and often they take time to be published.

“You have to find government documents that are sometimes hidden,” Jason says. “Finding Russian documents has also been difficult. It would be very easy to write a whole chapter or book about this event, but I’m trying to limit the focus on that and cover Russia’s national security threats as a whole.”

Intelligence Analysis: Domestic and Foreign Threats Confronting the Biden Administration is scheduled to be published in summer 2022. Jason realizes that the knowledge and experience he’s gained through this assignment will help him long into the future.