Jess Rudo completed basic training in 2004 and OCS (Officer Candidate School) in 2011. She served in Civil Affairs during her enlisted time and in Military Intelligence as an Officer. She started her career at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, in a Reserve Civil Affairs Battalion, the 404th, deploying to Iraq in 2008 with the 2-327th Infantry, where she was one of only a few women on any FOB she served at. Later, as a Lieutenant, she deployed to Afghanistan as the S2 (Intelligence Officer) for 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery in 4th Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Currently she is teaching History at West Point.
In this interview, she describes her experiences combatting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan as both a Civil Affairs NCO and a Military Intelligence Officer. In 2008, she deployed to Samara, stationed at FOB Brassfield-Mora on a 4-person Civil Affairs Team. She focused on “winning the hearts and minds” of the people, regularly distributing school supplies, conducting medical and veterinary engagements, and working to provide healthy sources of drinking water. Local women regularly came to her with their concerns, asking her for help when they were not comfortable talking with male Soldiers. During this deployment, the Army focused on “clearing” Samara, cordoning off areas with T-walls. She talks about building relations with the Iraqi citizens, and working with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the Iraqi Army and Police (who “didn’t want to interact with me”). The primary threat initially was AQI, but it changed over time. In 2013, she deployed to Khost, Afghanistan, and was stationed at Camp Clark. As a Military Intelligence Officer, she focused on analyzing indirect fire attacks by discerning patterns in the timing, and seeking to disrupt those patterns. During this deployment, the unit found a camera that contained a number of useful videos that were shared with other intelligence organizations. As an Intelligence Officer, she recommends being “a big confident voice,” noting that it is key to building trust. She advises future MI Lieutenants to be willing to learn and think critically, and always take care of their Soldiers.