As a U.S. Army intelligence officer stationed in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, Ian Gore ’13 was a targeting officer, responsible for building “target packets” against enemy combatants: working with locals to find out who the enemies were, compiling evidence against them, explaining to the unit commander why a particular person should be arrested and detained, and describing the goals that would be achieved.
“I really enjoyed it,” says Gore, a native of Indianapolis and a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “It was very challenging, but I also really enjoy just being in the advisory role to the commander.”
One of the most professionally fulfilling experiences came the first time his unit went out to capture a target that Gore himself had identified and developed a case on from the start, from working with intelligence collectors to verifying their information to telling the commander they were ready to go.
“I stayed up all night watching the surveillance video from the surveillance plane,” he says, “especially since there was a debate, right up to the day of the operation, on whether the house I had was the right house. I was pretty insistent with our commander, but at same time because of all this debate, you think, ‘Umm, maybe it’s not …’ At the end, it was the right house. That was my first target and it was a very satisfying moment to see the fruits of my labor.”
Gore also did a tour in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, last year. “In Afghanistan, I was typically awake at 6:30 in the morning and didn’t go back to my room until about one in morning on the average day, and you’re doing that seven days a week,” he says. The contrast with life at HLS is stark. “Here, I get to sleep, and on weekends I can even sleep in a little.”
Gore was drawn to the military because of its strong sense of brotherhood and emphasis on leadership skills for officers. But it wasn’t until West Point, where he served for several years on the school’s cadet-run honor committee, that he decided to go to law school. “What I really enjoyed about it the most was when weird situations would come up that no one had ever thought about before, and you’d have to consider, ‘Does this really constitute cheating? Is this really lying?’ I really enjoyed that analytical process, and over time, that’s what drew me to wanting to go to law school,” although, he adds with a laugh, he has no idea yet what kind of law he wants to practice.
Gore turned down the opportunity for a full ride at other, less-expensive law schools through the Army’s Funded Legal Education Program in favor of studying at HLS, where the G.I. Bill is paying a portion of his tuition and fees. “To be able to go to school completely paid for and still get my full captain’s pay would have been nice,” says Gore, who has resigned his Army commission. “I just think Harvard offered so many opportunities — coming to school here, the world is pretty much open to you, and you can go down any path you want to.”
He’s been delighted to find HLS receptive to him and other military personnel. “I have to admit, I’m a little surprised!” he says. “Obviously the military is a conservative institution, and with don’t ask don’t tell, with the law school’s history there, there’s a kind of thought that Harvard isn’t very friendly to military people.” After several months at HLS, he says, “I honestly could not disagree more. I feel the students in my section have been very welcoming, especially when they ask what I did before law school and hear some of the stories, there is a lot of interest in it. And obviously the dinner with the dean [on Veteran’s Day] was a great experience. I would say I’ve been welcomed with open arms.”