NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) – Navy Cyber Warfare Engineers from the Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group (NCWDG) participated in the Navy League’s 2018 Sea-Air-Space Exposition at the at Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Mryland, April 9-11.
Sea-Air-Space is an annual event hosted by the Navy League of the United States. It is now the largest maritime exposition in the U.S. and continues as an extension of the Navy League's mission of maritime policy education and sea service support. Cyber Warfare Engineers (CWE) from NCWDG participated in the event to educate and inform SAS participants about their direct commissioning program and answer questions about this unique career field.
Lt. j.g. George John, a CWE assigned to NCWDG, discussed the community and how the Navy is actively searching for software developers to join the team.
"Navy Cyber Warfare Engineers are technical experts, in software engineering and design" said John. "All CWEs have computer science or computer engineering degrees; many of us have private sector experience or served as an enlisted sailor. The CWE community is basically comprised of software experts who also feel the desire to serve as a Naval Officer."
The CWE program is composed of a very small, elite community of highly-skilled individuals. Since its creation in 2011, it has been a highly competitive and selective program and applicants must be able to convey knowledge of software design methodologies, system architectures, and networking technologies, as well as demonstrate programming proficiency in a technical interview conducted by other CWEs.
According to the commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. 10th Fleet, Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, during his testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee for Cybersecurity Mar. 13, the CWE program is necessary for talented individuals with a background in cyber.
“As the ‘War for Talent’ continues due to the combination of an upward trending economy and an ever increasing competition for cyber skillsets, the CWE aims to attract the best and the brightest from society to join us,” said Gilday.
Several other CWEs also attended SAS, including Lt. Christopher Liu, currently serving at NCWDG as a plans division officer, and is the most senior CWE in the Navy.
“The CWE program has been trailblazing in every way since the community stood up,” said Liu, who was a prior Electronics Technician before receiving his direct commission as a CWE. “In the last five years, we’ve seen a maturing of our training programs, our software development processes and environments, the lateral transfer approval process, and the increase in CWE billets.”
Liu believes events like SAS allow Navy Information Warfare professionals, including CWEs, to explain their officer communities to people who may not have a good understanding of the CWE program.
“When I first applied for the CWE designator, no one at the time had any idea what a CWE was,” said Liu. “There are still even some misconceptions today. For example, CWEs focus primarily on software engineering and coding; not being a ‘cyber operator’.”
Liu also shared some advice to individuals who might be interested in becoming a CWE.
“An individual who would like to apply for the CWE program should have an engineering bachelor degree, and be very good with C, Assembly, and Python programming at the bare minimum,” said Liu. “Additionally, being a CWE officer means the Navy still expects you to be prepared to meet all military standards, such as physical readiness and military bearing.”
Ensign Jordan Acedera, the Navy’s most junior CWE and a former systems engineer role in military aircraft simulations, explained his motivation for joining the community.
“First and foremost, I wanted to join the Navy and serve as an officer,” said Acedera. “I also wanted to make better use of my computer engineering degree and sharpen my programming skills; what better place to do so than today’s Navy.”
Since its establishment, FCC/C10F has grown into an operational force composed of more than 16,000 Active and Reserve Sailors and civilians organized into 29 active commands, 40 Cyber Mission Force units, and 29 reserve commands around the globe. FCC serves as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the Navy's Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. C10F, the operational arm of FCC, executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides support of Navy and joint missions in cyber/networks, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.
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