JULY 16, 2015, NORFOLK (NNS) – Reserve information professional (IP) officers participated in a weeklong training surge at Information Dominance Corps (IDCRC) Region Mid-Atlantic in preparation for earning the Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) qualification, June 23-28.
The IDWO qualification designation signifies that a Sailor has achieved a level of proficiency in the Information Dominance community. To earn their IDWO pins, IP officers, like other members of the IDCRC, must show that they have the knowledge and proficiency across a broad range of IDC competencies to be prepared to deploy and support the Navy mission.
“From the very beginning of this qualifying process, we stressed that the reserve IP officers have to achieve the same qualification standards as our active component,” said Capt. Barry Tanner, commanding officer, Navy Reserve Navy Information Dominance Forces (NR NAVIDFOR). “Our job is to mobilize and support the fleet and if we are not trained at the same standard, we can’t do the job.”
As a forward-leaning community that must meet high demand with limited personnel, it is important for IP officers to be trained and ready to complete the mission.
“Our guys may go out once, twice, maybe three times. Afghanistan, Horn of Africa, all sorts of different mission sets that we’ve been supporting all these years. Eighty to 90 percent of the IP community has been, is, or will be mobilized in the next 12 months,” Tanner said. “We want to provide officers that can do the job. That’s the whole goal behind events like this.”
Currently, 56 percent of the IDCRC officers have earned an IDWO pin. The IDWO qualification program and breast insignia were announced in NAVADMIN 058-10 in 2010. Formal designation as an information dominance warfare officer signifies that eligible Navy officers have acquired specific knowledge, skills and experience, and have demonstrated proficiency at the professional level of competence required for satisfactory performance of assigned duties. A finalized instruction on the program was released in OPNAV instruction 1412.13.
Qualifying for the IDWO pin involves two major steps. Officers must first complete a rigorous Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS), and then go before an inspection board.
The PQS tests IP officer knowledge of the different disciplines within the IDC. Unlike the active component, the reserve IP officers must complete the process while dealing with the challenges of managing a separate civilian career.
“The PQS requires over 100 signatures. In an ideal situation for the active component, the students are in a command where they can actually go and talk to experts in certain fields and receive one-on-one, in-depth training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Karl Pilz, NR NAVIDFOR manpower officer. “Unfortunately, that’s not the case as a reservist. Typically students attend online corroboration sessions with an instructor and they log in, view and listen to the presentation. They do that usually one night a week for several months in order to go through all of the sessions.”
Once students complete the PQS, they can attend a training surge like the one held last week, which is designed to help them review the material and prepare for the board.
“Our IDWO board features two students answering questions from three instructors,” Pilz said. “The students use teamwork to answer the questions, however, each one needs to know the answer. The boards can run 60-90 minutes in length.”
The training can be intensive because of the need to understand the different facets of the Information Dominance community.
“The training is very challenging,” said Ensign Joseph Impinna, a student preparing for the IDWO board. “I am an IP and about half of the PQS is IP materials. However, we are expected to learn about information warfare, intel, space, and meteorology. So it’s very challenging because you are expected to bring yourself up to speed on these different areas outside of your concentration.”
Not only do board members want a student to be knowledgeable about the information, they want to see how the student communicates the information.
“What the board wants to see is that we understand the subject matter at a high level. The goal is to be qualified for IDWO so you can walk into a building and do your job,” Impinna said. “We want to communicate impact to the skipper or executive officers. We spend all this time learning the facts, but when we attend the training surge, we are practicing how to communicate effectively.”
The overall goal is to make sure that the reserve officers received the same quality of training as the active component.
“We created a process that ensures the rigor of our qualification is at the level that our active component expected,” Tanner said. “The fear was someone would see one of these events and see it as a rubber stamp, so we’ve successfully created a standardized process that’s created a tougher board than anywhere else. We want to make sure that everyone proves that they know what they’re talking about.”
While active component candidates must obtain Information Dominance Warfare qualification within 36 months of reporting to their initial non-training assignment, Reserve candidates have 60 months to obtain their qualification.
The IDCRC was established in 2012 to man, train and equip Reserve personnel from the information professional, space, information warfare, oceanography and meteorology, and intelligence communities, who all play critical roles in the maintaining the Navy’s three core Information Dominance capabilities: assuring command and control, maintaining battlespace awareness and integrating kinetic and non-kinetic fires.