WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Marine said his family has a long history of service so he chose to become a Marine like his father.
Karl Timmons decision to serve in the military and law enforcement allowed him to see more than thirty countries.
Timmons said he learned very valuable lessons from the Marines: know your job, no matter what you do in life, know the next person’s job as if your life depends on it, because it just may, always be flexible and never neglect your walk with the Lord.
He said the troops on the front lines have to have someone telling them where to go, and how to get there, so that’s where intelligence steps in.
He said as the intelligence analyst, they were always watching three things: terrain, weather, and the enemy.
“If you know when the sun is coming up and you knew when it was going to be light if the enemy doesn’t have night vision, they can’t do anything until it is light,” Marine Karl Timmons said.
He said timing was everything.
“Timing, of everything you can do, as well as what the enemy can do,” Timmons said.
Timmons said every job was a piece of the puzzle.
“He was the one who would do the arts and graphics for us,” TImmons said.
In addition to the graphics guys, they also had so-called “squints.”
Timmons said they called them that because they were always squinting to look at graphics and photos.
“They send all the reports of what they see to an analyst who takes the information and tries to recreate the puzzle,” Timmons said.
He said once the analyst figured out the big picture.
“That’s me giving a briefing, satellite imaging, maps,” Timmons said.
He said they would map out, and then show where all the friendlies were.
“Then, you’d put an overlay over that same map to show where the enemy was, where they’d been, and where they are going,” Timmons said.
The analysts were constantly tracking trends.
“Customs, things to look for, what’s regular, what’s baseline, what’s irregular,” Timmons said.
He said they gained a lot of information, through role playing, with those who lived the culture.
“It’s very insightful, little things that we wouldn’t think about,” Timmons said. “You do role playing, so people know what they are going to see and hear.”
Information was constantly changing.
“You deal with people with the language barrier, who look at us through their lense, of what they understand of America,” Timmons said. “I loved being able to interview them, to find out what makes them tick, so we could accomplish whatever it was that we needed to do.”
He said people loved to help, it was just a matter of figuring out what motivates them.
“Long hours, that we did reading, analyzing and briefing,” Timmons said.
They had to grab sleep wherever and whenever they could.
He said the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit stayed busy training when Saddam Hussein started showing what he was up to.
“That’s me gearing up for Desert Storm,” Timmons said. “We knew it was inevitable, we just didn’t know exactly when.”
He said early one morning on the ship, Desert Shield got very real.
“You could just hear tick, tick, tap, tap, tap, tick, tick, that was the Marines loading their weapons with live ammo,” Timmons said. “You could also hear the priest going up and down and whispering last rites.”
From times of war, to his efforts to help liberate people from many countries.
“In Liberia, Africa, that was for Northern Turkey, providing comfort to people who were claiming to be refugees,” Timmons said.
“If you work with people with respect and compassion, it makes a world of difference,” Timmons said.
He said that applied in the Marines and beyond.
After serving in the military, and a short stent preparing other service members, he went to work in federal law enforcement.
He said he learned early to be a thermostat, not a thermometer, and to realize you have to change how you deal with people, depending on who they are.
“You might be dealing with a convicted felon for one interview, the next one you have a scared 17 year old, that has just come here to work,” Timmons said.
He was an honor graduate when he became an Immigration Detention Officer.
“Find out what motivates the person without judging,” Timmons said.
He said you have to always keep in mind there will be cultural differences.
“From their country, if law enforcement says empty your pockets, they are going to steal, in the United States I had to explain to them, no, no, in the United States, you get your items back,” Timmons said.
He said in the more than 20 years he spent in federal law enforcement, the question was always, ‘what are we going to do to help you with this problem?’
He said it was all about setting the tone of the interview, developing trust, and meeting their basic needs.
“I get it, you know, just another person, by the grace of God we could be in opposite chairs,” Timmons said.
Timmons said from the day he headed to boot camp, he always kept that in mind.
“Once people understand that you really do care about them as a person, and have respect and compassion, they fully understand,” Timmons said.
He said when it comes to technology in intelligence, less is more.
Timmons said analysts now are so reliant on technology, they’ve lost that human interaction, like the one-on-one interviews Timmons often did.