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CHIPS Articles: Navy Merges Sub Radio and IT Ratings

Navy Merges Sub Radio and IT Ratings
By MC1 Mark D. Faram, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs - March 17, 2020
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The rise of great power competition at sea has led to the Navy redoubling its efforts to own electronic warfare across the world’s oceans - both above and below the surface.

That battle in the subsurface domain is getting a boost in the form of a rating merger, the result of which increases the Navy’s undersea electronic warfare effectiveness while enhancing the force’s ability to operate and maintain computer networks onboard its boats.

Starting this summer, one of the silent service’s newest ratings – Information Systems Technician (Submarines), or ITS for short, will nearly triple in size as it merges with the fellow submarine rating Electronics Technician (Radio), known as ETRs.

“This merger will allow the Submarine Force to address concerns with ITS workload while simultaneously building our electronic warfare subject matter expertise,” said Vice Admiral Daryl L. Caudle, Commander Submarine Forces. “Mastery of electronic warfare will be critical to the Submarine Force’s contribution to the high-end fight.”

The move, which has been in the works since the summer of 2019, is expected to take another year to be fully complete. On the manpower side, the 740-strong ITS rating will bring on-board the roughly 1,600 ETRs.

The end result will be an ITS general rating made up of two service ratings – one dedicated to communications, the other concentrating on electronic warfare. Both skill sets will share the workload of submarine information technology, too.

The merger decision was made after a multi-year manpower survey identified a need to increase the numbers of information technology specialists on submarines intersected with the need to beef up the ability for responding to emerging subsurface electronic warfare threats.

“Merging ETR into ITS as a service rating addresses both of these priorities,” said Capt. Angela Katson, head of enlisted plans and policy for the Chief of Naval Personnel. “While raising the total number of Sailors available to perform local-area network maintenance and operations on submarines, it also creates a career path for Sailors to become specialized professionals in the electronic warfare mission area.”

The move is in keeping with the Navy’s Rating Modernization effort, part of the Navy’s ongoing Sailor 2025 move. It is expected that the merger will eventually allow ITS Sailors greater flexibility in duty assignments.

The move will be more than just getting a new rating patch for ETRs but bring with it a choice among two separate career paths. All Sailors in the combined rating will now get a new career path in either the ITS-Communications or ITS-Electronic Warfare service ratings.

These career paths will be distinct, each managed by separate training pipelines and NECs, and will have their own rating examinations as well as advancement quotas. Billets will be managed by NECs and aligned to enhance the career paths of our Sailors.

Sailors currently serving in ETR or ITS ratings will work closely with their community managers to ensure they are selected into the optimal career path.

“Sailors will be assigned by a combination of their desires and the needs of the Submarine Force,” Katson said. “While every effort will be made to ensure that the Sailor’s desires are met, ensuring a healthy future rating structure and future promotion potential is vital to the future health of all Sailors in the rating.”

Once converted, all Sailors will be required to complete a qualification package that denotes their current skills and identifies what new training they need to come up to speed in their new duties and responsibilities.

The first E-4 through E-6 advancement exams will be given this coming fall. The first chief’s exam will come in January 2021.

For ETR Sailors converting in, they’ll switch their rating badge to the iconic lightning bolts of both the ITS rating and surface Information Systems Technicians.

This historic mark has signified communications in the Navy since 2012, when it was first introduced for electrician’s mates qualified as radio operators. The device was then a specialty mark worn on the lower uniform sleeve signifying the qualification.

When the radioman rating was created in 1921 the same lightning bolts were adopted for the uniform badge. In the late 1990’s the radioman rating in the submarine force became ETR’s.

Meanwhile their surface counterparts merged with data processing technicians to create information systems technician.

More information can be found in NAVADMIN 066/20.

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