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CHIPS Articles: CIWT Modernizes Fleet IW Training with Innovative Technology

CIWT Modernizes Fleet IW Training with Innovative Technology
By Glenn Sircy, Center for Information Warfare Training - January 12, 2021
PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT), a Naval Education and Training Command learning center responsible for training and preparing over 22K information warfare (IW) professionals annually, enters 2021 focused on new opportunities to develop and employ the most effective and sophisticated means available to train IW professionals into skilled combat-ready warfighters who are both disciplined and tough in such a dynamically evolving warfare area.

Exercising agility, innovation and adaptability, the CIWT N4N6 and N76 teams have been the driving force in collaboratively working with the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD), along with the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) PMW-170, leading the development of the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D® (MRTS 3D®) Surface Ship Radio Room (SSRR).

The MRTS 3D® SSRR represents an affordable, scalable, tactile content delivery methodology, which uses the latest in gaming technology system engineering affording students multiple opportunities to virtually perform tasks within a virtual representation of a system.

“The ever-evolving dynamic security environment and tightening fiscal constraints demand that we leverage advances in technology, information systems, and the sciences that offer new and creative opportunities which change the landscape of how we train and prepare our information warfare professionals,” said Capt. Marc Ratkus, commanding officer of CIWT. “Our platforms and systems are only as good as the people operating them. Training systems modernization and innovations such as the MRTS 3D® Surface Ship Radio Room will posture our information warfare professionals to support their respective commanders with assured command and control, enabling freedom of maneuver and achievement of our national security strategy, bore-sighted on Great Power Competition.”

The initiative is the latest training innovation developed to support accession and advanced skills fleet communicator training needs. It replaces the Journeyman Communications Course “C” School’s Virtual Radio Room end-of-life training simulation, used since 2006, and provides a tactile environment that immerses the accession and journeyman Sailors into SSRR simulation based upon the guided-missile destroyer’s, or DDG’s, latest communications suite.

Ultimately, the MRTS 3D® SSRR will be integrated into the Journeyman Communications Courses onboard Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) San Diego, Virginia Beach and Corry Station, with planned integration into two of the Information Systems Technician Block 0 courses onboard IWTC Corry Station and the Information Professional Basic Course onboard IWTC Virginia Beach.

“A tremendous amount of planning went into the MRTS 3D® Surface Ship Radio Room,” shared Chuck Sauter, CIWT’s N7 director. “In short, this is a big deal, and we used real fleet problems as MRTS 3D® scenarios. The system will be used in multiple CIWT courses and potentially by other learning centers such as the Navy’s Submarine Learning Center and the Center for Surface Combat Systems. Additionally, Naval Information Warfare Training Group and the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center may utilize it for their training purposes.”

This is another great example of CIWT’s domain-wide innovation supporting the Ready, Relevant Learning pillar of Sailor 2025, which leverages training technology that ranges from simple visual demonstration tools to more complex, immersive simulators and virtual trainers.

With anticipated utilization in the Journeyman Communications Course in October 2021, the initiative has been a herculean effort that faced fiscal, technology development and implementation challenges for many internal and external stakeholders.

“Equipment procurement was a multi-command effort between CIWT, NAWCTSD and NAVWAR,” shared Harold “Mic” O’Connell, CIWT’s N4N6 director. “Overcoming numerous logistical obstacles, changing technologies, and infrastructure upgrades, the team is on track to produce 16 MRTS 3D® classrooms, 336 MRTS 3D® stations, supporting over 1600 accession students and approximately 325 fleet returnees in the Journeyman Communications Course “C” School at a cost of approximately $4M. Most noteworthy is all this will be accomplished regardless of the added complexity introduced by COVID-19 that makes even the routine necessary actions that much more difficult to accomplish. CIWT is, however, a can-do organization and the N4N6 and N76 teams will make this successful.”

The initiative has also taken numerous man-hours to develop a realistic training product which now simulates more than 18 different circuits and practical equipment relevant to communications circuit paths encountered onboard U.S. Navy surface ships.

In addition, CIWT N76 SMEs were integral to the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for 20+ communication circuits used in support of the Journeyman Communications Course MRTS 3D® software and curriculum development.

“These SOPs did not previously exist, and have subsequently been posted onto the Sailor Web Portal for fleet use, a colossal effort lauded by NAVWAR PEO-C4I and type commanders,” added Sauter. “Their efforts showcase another a great example of CIWT’s domain-wide fleet impact, supporting commanders in their missions to fight and win.”

IWTC Virginia Beach currently offers 59 courses of instruction in information technology, cryptology, and intelligence with an instructor and support staff of 230 military, civilian, and contract members who train over 6,600 students every year at 5 training sites in the Hampton Roads area. It is one of four school houses for Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) and also oversees learning sites at Jacksonville and Mayport, Florida; Kings Bay, Georgia; and Groton, Connecticut to continue aligning Information Warfare community training.

With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 22,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.

For news from the Center for Information Warfare Training domain, visit www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ciwt/, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (January 11, 2021) Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (IT) Zachary Mollette, a Navy IT rating subject matter expert attached to the Center for Information Warfare Training’s N76 directorate, navigates the different functions of a Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System 3D® (MRTS 3D®) Surface Ship Radio Room (SSRR) onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida. The MRTS 3D® SSRR represents an affordable, scalable, tactile content delivery methodology, which uses the latest in gaming technology system engineering affording students multiple opportunities to virtually perform tasks within a virtual representation of a system. (U.S. Navy photo by Glenn Sircy/Released)
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