Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel that prepares them to conduct information warfare (IW) across the full spectrum of military operations.
IWTC Virginia Beach offers 65 courses of instruction in information technology (IT), cryptology, and intelligence with an instructor and support staff of 280 military, civilian, and contract members, who train over 6,400 students every year at six training sites in the Hampton Roads area. It is one of four schoolhouses for the Center of Information Warfare Training Center (CIWT), a learning center for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), and also oversees four learning sites at Jacksonville and Mayport, Florida; Kings Bay, Georgia; and Groton, Connecticut to continue aligning IW community training.
Cmdr. Boyden took command of IWTC Virginia Beach in http://www.nrl.navy.mil/December 2016. Since that time he and his staff have focused on delivering ready, relevant learning to the fleet and Sailors.
He responded to questions in writing in early July.
CHIPS: Can you discuss what the business process review phase of block learning for Intelligence Specialist "A" school achieved and how it came about? I understand the new initiative is expected to be online in 1.5 years.
Cmdr. Boyden: Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) – an initiative of Sailor 2025 – will replace the ‘as-is’ one-and-done approach to Intelligence Specialist (IS) training by providing a continuum of learning that updates and refreshes an IS’s skills across their entire career. The first phase of RRL, Block Learning, will convert selected accession-level IS “A” and “C” schools to a modularized design. This approach includes analysis of the existing course content to more closely align the delivery of content to when the IS will perform the work in the fleet.
U.S. Fleet Forces’ Eight Guiding Principles served as the backbone for the IS rating review analysis process; ranging from ‘do not break fleet readiness’ to minimize knowledge, skill, and ability (KSA) atrophy where gaps exist between learning and performance. Collecting and analyzing the data and then formulating blocking recommendations were all borne out of these principles.
IS Block Learning is scheduled to ‘go live’ at IWTC Virginia Beach in October 2019. Between now and then, we have some significant work to do – both in terms of recrafting sizeable portions of the selected IS “A” and “C” school curriculum, as well as preparing new learning spaces outfitted with the proper training systems. This endeavor is not as easy as moving a few already-developed sections of curriculum around. We are talking about major muscle movements for the IS rating and Naval Intelligence writ large – movements of which IWTC Virginia Beach is excited to be a part.
CHIPS: From reading the news releases from the CIWT enterprise, I can see that continuous process and business improvement is ongoing across all the training centers, which includes curriculum development. Can you talk about who is involved in developing and improving the curriculum and what the process is?
Cmdr. Boyden: Curriculum development and improvement is definitely a team sport. Certainly the fleet, as the ‘customer’ of our training, is involved in accurately defining the training requirements. The Type Commanders play a healthy role in this part of the process, ensuring their platforms have access to the training needed. For our more technical courses, the Systems Commands play a large role in providing the gear on which our students train, in addition to the curriculum. Obviously, NETC, CIWT (as Curriculum Control Authority), and IWTC Virginia Beach all own pieces of the curriculum development and improvement process. And backstopping this entire team is the Resource Sponsor with the funding.
A little closer to home, perhaps the most successful ‘model’ for development and improvement is having curriculum developers locally imbedded with our instructors at the schoolhouse. Our instructors are the on-the-ground, in-the-classroom Subject Matter Experts and Master Training Specialists, and we have found that the success of curriculum development is directly related to our instructors’ ability to guide the CIWT curriculum developers in real-time.
Our instructors’ knowledge of and passion for our course material makes them uniquely equipped to ensure curriculum is developed right the first time for the fleet, which saves the Navy time and money overall. The cost of having to ‘fix’ poorly developed curriculum – typically as a result of developers and instructors being separated by time and distance – is certainly wasteful and delays delivery of the training the Navy needs.
CHIPS: Are the courses a combination of instructor-led and online training, and do they include industry certifications? Can you talk about the skill level of your instructors?
Cmdr. Boyden: Our course offerings are in-resident, instructor-led courses. This approach guarantees a uniformity of course delivery and an ability for NETC to standardize training value across the Navy.
Some of our more technical courses carry industry certifications. A few of our courses carry DoD Intelligence Community certifications. And some of our courses are accredited by the American Council on Education (ACE) for higher education credits.
The training and certifications/accreditations value of our courses is only realized via our all-star instructor staff. Their skill level varies, as one might imagine, based largely on experience and qualifications. The instructor who just checked onboard brings with him or her a different skill level than does the instructor who is finishing up a three-year tour, is certified to instruct in multiple courses, and has earned his or her Master Training Specialist and Master Training Mentor qualifications.
The beauty of our instructor program – led by our first-rate Training Specialist – is that we take that brand new check-in and provide him or her the opportunity to grow into that seasoned instructor in fairly short order. Overall, I am happy to brag that our instructors are world-class, award-winning Sailors who make the business of training the next generation of information warfare professionals look easy.
CHIPS: Do you survey your students about the effectiveness of course content? Are any external organizations involved in course improvement?
Cmdr. Boyden: All of our students have the opportunity to provide feedback on the course(s) they take via the student critique program. The student critique program is a proven, valuable tool for identifying training and quality of life issues at IWTC Virginia Beach. The purpose of the student critique program is to provide feedback to the training and course supervisors on areas such as training and curriculum effectiveness, safety, and quality of life issues. It also provides a source of feedback to our instructors on their performance.
This feedback – especially from fleet Sailors – is always valued input for our team, and is used to help us continually evolve our courses and stay current with where the fleet needs our courses to be.
Training Requirements Reviews (TRR) serve as the formal NETC mechanism by which external organizations advocate for the scope, intent, and fleet need of already-developed curriculum. Proper Resource Sponsor, Fleet, and Type Commander participation in TRRs is absolutely essential to maintaining valid training requirements. Without this participation, the validity of our courses can atrophy, and we risk delivering “negative” training to our students – which is oftentimes worse than no training at all.
CHIPS: What is the criteria for applying for a course?
Cmdr. Boyden: All of our courses are advertised via the Catalogue of Navy Training Courses (CANTRAC), which allows searching for formal Navy training course information. The enterprise Naval Training Reservation System (eNTRS) provides fleet activities the ability to view and request seats in Navy schools. Any specific criteria or prerequisites for course enrollment will be annotated in these systems.
CHIPS: What do you think are the characteristics of a good student?
Cmdr. Boyden: The best students are willing to learn. They choose to come into our schoolhouse with an attitude that we are here to teach them something they do not know, or perhaps have forgotten. IWTC Virginia Beach is committed to improving our nation’s and our Navy's warfighting ability to win any operation information warfare professionals are called to conduct by providing the absolute best training experience possible for our students' current and future jobs. All we need in return is for our students to jump onboard and be willing to absorb our instructors’ lessons.
CHIPS: IWTC Virginia Beach has a big responsibility in ensuring that students are prepared to conduct Information Warfare and can excel at their jobs in the fleet. What do you think is the most important part of the command’s success?
Cmdr. Boyden: Our mission, coursework, and staff composition reflect the information warfare community. We hold seven separate “A” schools (officer, enlisted, active, and Reserve component), 20 Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) code-awarding “C” schools, and nearly 40 other officer and enlisted courses in locations spanning from Groton, Connecticut to Mayport, Florida.
IWTC Virginia Beach is the Navy’s largest Information Warfare training enterprise on the East Coast, graduating over 6,400 students annually. Our bumper sticker reads: The birthplace of Naval Intelligence and the home of information warfare professionalism. Yes, IWTC Virginia Beach has a big responsibility – one we take very seriously.
Our people are our keystone and absolutely drive our success. I spent time earlier talking about our instructors. Obviously, our instructors are on the frontlines of the training experience – we are a training command, so it is appropriate to highlight them. But I would be remiss if I did not mention the multitude of behind-the-scenes professionals who also help make us successful – our special security office personnel, administrative support team, supply and facilities folks, networks magicians, and training cadre are all critical to our mission.
Across the board, IWTC Virginia Beach has the best people, aligned to a common purpose, guided by unbridled professionalism. I am blessed to be able to work alongside the IWTC Virginia Beach team.
CHIPS: Is there anything else you would like to discuss?
Cmdr. Boyden: I truly appreciate this wonderful opportunity to share the great work the IWTC Virginia Beach team is doing to help train our Sailors for the Navy the nation needs. Thank you.