Home Art CISS students publish information on debt traps in Montenegro

CISS students publish information on debt traps in Montenegro

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Shaio Zerba, director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, speaks to students during one of the center’s exercises. Several students in the program contributed to research for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Project Tearline, giving them real-world experience in the intelligence community. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Five University of Mississippi students contributed to research National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Project Tearlinean open source intelligence platform created to expand analytical reach with external groups and encourage in-depth understanding of diverse topics for the intelligence community.

Student project explored what could happen if Montenegro were to default on the Montenegrin-Chinese Belt and Initiative loan agreement. In 2014, China agreed to help finance a highway between Montenegro and Serbia to boost economic growth.

A condition of the agreement stated that failure to pay the loan would result in Chinese ownership of Montenegrin assets as repayment.

“It was an exciting way for students to interact with the intelligence community and put into practice the analytical craft they had learned in school.” center intelligence and national security courses” said Shaio Zerba, director of the university’s research department. Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.

“When they go to an interview with an agency, they can cite that as an example of their research that actually met the rigors of the intelligence community.”

The project concluded that while a Montenegro default was unlikely, the outcome of such a default would allow China to potentially gain ports, railways and other infrastructure in the Balkan country. .

Sydney Lynch, an Ole Miss junior art history and classics major from Long Island, New York, was a team leader for the project. She said working with the NGA gave her experience creating high-level intelligence reports while using what she learned during the experience. minor in intelligence and security studies.

“The foundation provided by CISS allowed me to learn many applicable skills,” Lynch said. “All the projects we do in our classes produce real intelligence reports. Although this was a theoretical report, the methods and techniques taught in class were very important in writing this report.

The five researchers are members of the Open Source Analytics Center, a student-led group producing open source intelligence on national security issues. When COSA members approached the N.G.A.the lead agency for geospatial intelligence, discussed partnership last fall on an upcoming report, the intelligence agency recommended the Montenegrin debt trap dilemma, said Kevin Riehle, educational associate professor of studies intelligence and security and educational advisor to COSA.

“This is an area where the NGA doesn’t have a lot of staff,” he said. “The students really filled a gap in NGA.”

The intelligence agency provided aerial photographs of Montenegrin infrastructure such as ports, mines and railways. This allowed the students to determine the potential value of these facilities to China, Riehle said.

The students’ research could be useful to members of the intelligence community focusing on the Balkan region or those tracking Chinese investments, among others, Riehle said.

“One of the missions of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies is to give students an understanding of how the intelligence community works,” he said. “Research like this – using real images and addressing a question relevant to the intelligence community – provides students with real-world experience.

“It’s not just theoretical; these are students doing real work for the intelligence community.

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