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CHIPS Articles: Leadership Programs Training Community’s Next Generation of Information Warfare Civilian Leaders

Leadership Programs Training Community’s Next Generation of Information Warfare Civilian Leaders
By George Lammons, NAVIFOR Public Affairs - January-March 2019
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) held an orientation week for its newest civilian executive leadership class last month.

Naval Intelligence Activity distributed a notice for potential executive leadership applicants for its program, all in a continuing effort to assure the Information Warfare Community’s next generation of civilian leadership.

Leadership is the secret sauce of military organizations. And the continuity of civilian leadership requires a ready pool of potential leaders, which is the purpose of the civilian executive leadership programs.

The IWC programs are designed to provide personal and professional opportunities to IWC civilians and commands. Participation in the programs is neither a guarantee or a requirement for civilian promotion, but participants will gain tools and knowledge that can help them in their careers and their jobs.

“The Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command Executive Leadership Program (CELP) builds a foundation for civilian leadership development and prepares our employees for potential placement in key leadership positions within our workforce,” the CELP instruction says.

CELP is the NMOC civilian leadership program. Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) and Naval Intelligence Activity have developed similar leadership programs to help identify highly motivated and talented civilians and prepare them for leadership positions if they get the opportunities.

“You get out of CELP what you put into it. If I had only stuck to the minimum requirements, I know that I would have missed out on some significant growth opportunities along the way,” said Jason Pyron of NAVIFOR, a 2016 CELP graduate. Pyron formerly worked at the Naval Oceanographic Office, an operational subordinate of NMOC.

Some pursue the programs to make them more competitive for promotion while others use them for personal growth and to learn tools to improve their performance.

“What I saw were some opportunities to get some good civilian training,” said Dan Banks of Information Warfare Training Group (IWTG) Gulfport and a graduate of the inaugural CELP class. “I think it did a lot for me.”

Banks, a retired chief petty officer and department head, said he was not interested in leaving his command, but he wanted some leadership tools to help him better manage civilians after leading Sailors during a Navy career in uniform. IWTG Gulfport was formerly the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Professional Development Center, also a NMOC subordinate.

NAVIFOR has Mid-Level Development Program (MLDP) and Senior-Level Development Program (SLDP). Naval Intelligence Activity has the Navigation Leadership Development Program. All have similar goals, but all are different in their setups, their eligible grades, and the substance of the courses.

CELP, which started in 2012 and has produced 13 graduates, has heretofore been restricted to the oceanography community. It accepts six into the program each year. NMOC pays all the expenses, including the participant’s travel. The program was started before NMOC was a part of the Information Warfare community. Although it remains focused primarily on the oceanography community, this new class included a NAVIFOR Stennis-based employee. NMOC is headquartered at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi.

The program is two years and includes remote assignments, shadowing, leadership interviews and attendance at high-level meetings. It also includes a week-long orientation at Stennis to begin and week-long east coast and west coast trips to tour all Naval oceanography assets in the U.S.

It also is tiered – GS/GG 5-10; GS/GG 11-13; and GS/GG 14-15 – with the requirements modified for different tiers.

NAVIFOR’s MLDP and SLDP have been in place for 10 years and produced collectively 319 graduates. The courses are conducted wholly in Suffolk, location of the NAVIFOR headquarters. NAVIFOR’s in-house programs are open to anyone in the IW community in the Hampton Roads area, only because travel requirements would make attendance impractical for employees outside the area. The 10-month programs are all classroom-based, one or two days a month, on average. They don’t have remote assignments or shadowing requirements.

The two programs are slightly different to accommodate senior-level employees and mid-level employees.

“We feel it’s a good thing,” said Dan Deighan, NAVIFOR Staff Training Officer. “It’s in the [leadership] framework, and it’s good for personal and professional growth.”

Navigation is for all of the Department of the Navy IWC, not just the intelligence community, this includes the Marine Corps and NCIS. Abe Mousavizadegan, Navigation Leadership Development Program director, said the program has had a number of civilian participants from throughout the IWC and, “from all over the world.” Like the other leadership programs, there are no guarantees of promotion for Navigation graduates, but two graduates have been promoted to the Senior Executive Service, Mousavizadegan said. Aside from promotions to the Senior Executive Service, many program participants have received promotions to the next higher grade.

“Of course, we hope to train all of the next generation of IWC civilian leadership, but at the end of the day, what we teach are leadership skills, tools and concepts; all of which have applications regardless of paygrade,” Mousavizadegan said.

The three-year program is starting its fifth cohort or “fleet” this year. There are always three fleets in session. Each fleet meets one day per quarter and has two field trips visiting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and IW installations/units in the Hampton Roads area. Participants also shadow senior leaders and have an IWC rotational assignment in a professional field different than their own. There is also a requirement to complete (or show credit) for a Joint Duty Assignment. The program recently added a day for all the IW “tribes” to make presentations to the fleet.

Unlike the other programs, Navigation is limited to grades GS/GG13-15. Mousavizadegan said that exceptions are made in rare and extraordinary occasions.

Navigation has a 16-member class. Mousavizadegan said the program leadership had experimented with different size fleets, but “16 seems about right to maximize fleetmember experience and program resources.”

Naval Intelligence Activity pays for the course and course materials, but the participants’ resident commands finance the travel expenses for their own participants.

While determination of their overall effectiveness may require years, leadership program participants and IWC leadership both say they have seen the benefits of the program already.

As the CELP instruction says: “The program provides opportunities not generally available and is designed to challenge participants to take responsibility for identifying those opportunities.”

NAVIFOR’s mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.

For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, Navy News webpage at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.

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