Lt. Col. David A. Rababy, Chief of Staff of U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, addressed the importance of intelligence in recent U.S. combat operations in a speech to students at the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service fraternity house on onday.

Rababy, who is primarily an interrogator and a translator in the human intelligence sector of the Marines, discussed this subdivision of intelligence. “If you want to prevent another Sept. 11, this is how you do it.”

Whereas sectors like imagery intelligence give pictures of what has already happened, human intelligence tells what is going to happen in the future, he said.

Rababy stressed the importance to Marine Corps intelligence of having strong linguistic assets and a sensitivity to cultural differences, referring to several examples from his experiences in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Restore Somalia and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Because of the profusion of cultural and linguistic barriers, the Marine Corps is currently placing more emphasis on language capability, Rababy said.

One example he gave of the demand for linguists as cultural liaisons was that officers in all Arab communities will not speak with enlisted American soldiers; instead, they will only speak with American officers.

These Arab officers view speaking with someone of a lower rank as “beneath their cultural standards,” Rababy said. Situations like these, he said, give rise to the great need for linguistic resources.

Rababy cited Arabic, Korean, Russian and Spanish as the four languages of primary importance today. There is especially a “big push to recruit Arabic speakers” to the Marine Corps, he said.

Rababy also spoke about the reasoning behind the scarcity of publicized information on nuclear weapons in Iraq. “There is proof of chemical weapons and there is proof of biological weapons [in Iraq],” but he did not comment about the existence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. He said that protecting the sources and the methods of obtaining such information takes priority over the public’s desire for specifics. It is in the nation’s best interest, he said, to keep that secret and be able to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Rababy also discussed his opinion on the United States’ current relations with Iraq. “I have the highest respect for the Iraqi people” he said. “They have a lot of respect for the United States, [but] that respect is whittling away.”

He said that as the United States pulls troops out of Iraq and replaces them with Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian troops, a major culture clash will result. The entrance of alcohol and prostitutes into Iraq by means of the Ukrainian soldiers is heightening the escalation of frictions, Rababy said, and if the United States does not correct its relations with Iraq, sooner or later Iraqi support will be completely lost.

Mike Boswell (SFS ’06), a member of Delta Phi Epsilon and Navy ROTC, said he was impressed by Rababy’s first hand knowledge of weapons facilities in Iraq. Formerly a self-proclaimed “ardent skeptic” on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he said that Rababy’s remarks convinced him otherwise.

Timothy Heck (COL ’04), a member of Delta Phi Epsilon, met Rababy this summer in Quantico, Va., where he worked under Rababy as an intelligence aide for Marine Corps Intelligence Activity. When Heck asked Rababy to speak at the fraternity house, Rababy readily agreed.

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