In May of 2017, the Navy Reserve IP Officer community met for its annual leadership symposium at SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic in Charleston, South Carolina. Commanding Officer Capt. Scott Heller welcomed nearly half of the officers from the 1825 designator, a few of their active duty counterparts, and guest speakers for three days of mentorship, training and technical briefs. Additionally, a training surge was held immediately after the event.
Subject matter experts and Department of the Navy leadership spoke on a range of subjects including: cyber fires, DON/Defense architecture; blockchain technology; cybersecurity workforce training and certifications; IP contributions at the operational level of war (OLW); and international relations.
The attendees heard from four flag officers from the information warfare community, including the keynote speaker, Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, then Director of Warfare Integration for Information Warfare (OPNAV N2N6F). (Norton is now the deputy director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.) She spoke about the importance of support from the Reserve community and took questions from the attendees. Randy Cieslak, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) chief information officer, also spoke about some of the challenges he faces regarding integrating the disparate capabilities of the service departments’ IT networks.
Lt. David Carroll, from Commander, 10th Fleet, led a particularly informative discussion on cyber fires. While Cryptologic Warfare officers have historically led cyber operations, Carroll detailed why the IP skill set is particularly well-suited for both offensive and defensive cyber operations. “IPs’ understanding of the network architecture is integral to fires planning in targeting. They know how to achieve desired, proportional effects; understand how and when to deploy defensive measures; and understand how to mitigate collateral effects.”
New this year was the presence of the Chiefs Mess. An invite was extended to the goat locker, and ITCS John Janachowski, the Reserve IT rating advisor, briefed on the health of the Reserve IT workforce. He also suggested ways to build a professional IT workforce and foster better alignment between the IP and IT communities.
Immediately upon the conclusion of the symposium, Lt. Cmdr. Neal Harper led a training surge. IP Officers are required to obtain both their Information Warfare Officer (IWO) pin and IP Basic certification. Overall, 38 officers received training with five of nine obtaining their IWO pin and two out of three passing the IP Basic Board. Additionally, 10 officers completed the IP intermediate qualification.
While many of the discussions were technical in nature, much time was spent on mentorship. Reserve IP captains spoke about the community health, reviewed service records, and even dissected the oath of office. Reserve IPs are a small community of about 200 members, many of whom are embedded in units with few or no other IP officers. This can make it challenging to stay connected with each other. The community adapted by using web-based teleconferencing to conduct training and even holding virtual certification boards, but face-to-face mentorship was still necessary. Recognizing this need, members bootstrapped an annual symposium to bring together the community for face-to-face mentorship and networking opportunities. Volunteers work with a Reserve IP captain to plan the schedule, invite speakers, determine a location, and work out logistical needs. Past events were held at Andrews Air Force Base and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Cmdr. Charles Young for his guidance in planning and executing the symposium.
Lt. j.g. Joe Impinna is an Information Professional Officer serving at Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) at Camp Parks, California and is crossed assigned to the Commander, Naval Forces Japan Headquarters unit in Minneapolis, Minnesota.