For the bulk of Mass, the Air National Guard’s job is intelligence analysis

City says 7,000 summer jobs are available for Boston youth ages 14 to 18

At the Air National Guard base in Cape Cod where Jacques Teixeira worked until his arrest by federal officials Thursday, fighter jets used to be a major mission. But over the past 16 years, the focus has shifted to military intelligence gathering.

That put the 21-year-old Teixeira, a first-class pilot, in the closely guarded arena of information from the start, when he was enlisted in 2019. Two years later, he was given a top-secret security clearance, according to an FBI affidavit filed in A federal court in Boston on Friday alleges that Teixeira leaked top-secret military documents on social media.

“To obtain his security clearance, Teixeira would have signed a binding lifetime non-disclosure agreement,” FBI Special Agent Patrick Luekenhoff wrote in the affidavit.

Teixeira was part of 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base near Mashpee, part of Joint Base Cape Cod. About 1,200 military personnel work in the wing, according to a spokesman. The unit’s stated mission is to provide “accurate worldwide intelligence, command and control”, as well as personnel for “rapid combat support and homeland security”.

The covert work of reviewing intelligence data and analyzing videos and photos of foreign websites is something the public does not see. When the National Guard operates across the state, it often responds to natural disasters, storms, and civil unrest. Former Governor Charlie Baker even deployed The Guardian to help administer COVID vaccines at the height of the pandemic.

But that’s no more than a quarter of the work the National Guard does, according to L. Scott Rice, a retired three-star Air Force general who oversaw all National Guard units across the country, including the 102nd Intelligence Unit. He said that The bulk of the work is for the federal government, and relates to military operations abroad.

It is not yet known how Teixeira, who holds the title of Major in Cyber ​​Defense Operations, obtained the documents and shared them in an online group. But Rice said the military routinely trusts young recruits with deadly weapons and top secret information.

“It’s a very responsible job that we give our guys. Most of the time — all the time, actually — they do it accordingly,” Rice said. “Every now and then we have a hiatus. And to see that is so devastating, so deadly and so sad.”

The leak of the document exposed weaknesses in Ukraine’s air defense and included other sensitive intelligence on Russia and South Korea that embarrassed the Biden administration.

“How on earth could someone at his level reach this kind of intelligence?”

Calder Walton

Calder Walton, a historian and author at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said the leak raises new questions about how the US military protects its intelligence.

“How on earth could someone at his level reach this kind of intelligence?” Walton asked. He noted that the main issue is how the younger generations interact with technology, compared to their superiors in the military.

“We expect young men to go and fight wars for us,” he said, so they need access to solid intelligence. “But there is also a need for some sort of sanity check — just on how widespread the intelligence is and who gets it.”

Walton said Teixeira appears to have been motivated by ego and impressing friends for breaking National Guard rules on top-secret information.

The New York Times reported that Teixeira was the alleged leaker before the FBI arrested him in his hometown of Dayton on Thursday. In its complaint, the federal government alleges that Teixeira began posting classified information in December on a social media platform, identified in the reports posted as Discord.

He appeared in federal court on Friday and is being held until a hearing next week. Not yet entered into an appeal. A court-appointed defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Officials with the 102nd Intelligence Wing did not respond to WBUR’s request for an interview; The Massachusetts National Guard declined to be interviewed.