From the military bases of the Florida Panhandle to the nation’s capital and the international stage, Jonathan Earles’ career has wound through defense intelligence, law enforcement, the private technology sector, and government and foreign affairs.
Earles grew up in Florida with military presence all around. In high school he worked at the Coast Guard Station Destin, going on boating patrols. He studied at the Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, taking courses on threat and vulnerability assessment, surveillance and countersurveillance, and Dynamic International Terrorism, which addressed how the military works with the private sector on counterterrorism efforts.
Armed with that knowledge and a two-year degree, he got a contract with the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. From this, he was recruited by the CEO of Babel Street to serve as assistant director for operations and analysis at the fledgling technology and knowledge company based in Reston, Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Babel Street uses open-source intelligence (OSINT) techniques that enhance search capabilities and make analysts more efficient.
“Rather than using one specific platform, they impart the general knowledge and wherewithal to use any data mining tool, which is invaluable in moving between missions or changing companies,” Earles explained. “I gained incredibly valuable on-the-job learning and experience there.”
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Shifting to law enforcement, he went through the police academy and became a Metropolitan Police Officer. At one point, when a broken foot sidelined him, he was detailed to the Strategic & Tactical Analysis Command Center at Police Headquarters, a division of the Homeland Security Bureau. There, he was involved in threat analysis and coordination and criminal intelligence work.
Meanwhile, he finished his bachelor’s from Florida State University online and then earned a graduate certificate in Counterintelligence from the Institute of World Politics in D.C.
He then landed a gig as an OSINT trainer with Echo Analytics Group in Tampa, commuting from his home near the airport in Arlington, Virginia; only then did he scale back to the D.C. Police Reserves Corps. The 4-month contract was working with the U.S. Department of Defense to learn open-source methodology.
Earles then followed the government job path and took an internship in the Office of Executive Technology for the U.S. State Department and Secretary of State. After four months, interns can be converted to full employees (which he was), then he was detailed to the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs.
“So much of my work in intelligence was cyber-based, I wanted to learn more about the legalities involved,” Earles said.
He chose Albany Law School’s online Master's of Science in Cybersecurity & Data Privacy because of the program’s solid, current knowledge of cybersecurity geared for other than coders and computer scientists.
“It sounded like a ‘win-win’ with what I wanted educationally and what I planned to do in the future.”
He also appreciated the program’s flexibility and was extremely impressed with the faculty – particularly program director Antony Haynes, associate dean for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of law. They had Air Force experience in common: Dean Haynes graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and taught computer science there, and Earles had studied and worked with several USAF units.
His detail at the State Department – in the Office of Global Policy and Program on the Counter-Narcotics team – involved a lot of work with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations around the globe. Focusing on drug supply production, their projects require multi-million-dollar budgets.
“The M.S. program was very relevant to what I do,” Earles said. “The financial courses helped with knowing the legalities involved and compliance with what you can and cannot do internationally. Just knowing legal terminology is extremely helpful; it has saved me in meetings 10 times over,” he laughed.
After just over 6 months on detail, Earles was converted to a permanent Foreign Affairs Officer, thanks largely to earning his master’s degree from Albany Law School.
“The general national security legality awareness I gained from the program is definitely beneficial in my work,” Earles summarized – so much so that he is hoping to pursue yet another online M.S. from Albany Law School, this time in Financial Compliance and Risk Management.
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