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CHIPS Articles: Information Assurance Training Underway on USS Abraham Lincoln

Information Assurance Training Underway on USS Abraham Lincoln
By Mary Purdy - January-March 2009
"The network is down." These four words can wreak havoc on anyone's day, but for Defense Department networks the consequences can be dire. Successful cyberspace operations, including operating, defending and securing the network, ensure cross-domain freedom for U.S. operating forces — and denying that same advantage to adversaries.

The ability to know what is normal and what is abnormal activity in a dynamic network environment of intrusions, viruses and malware is a competency that must be mastered.

The information assurance workforce is essential to assuring the DoD and the Department of the Navy (DON) have adequate security measures to protect and defend information and information systems.

With the increasing threat evidenced by the hundreds of daily attempts to breach U.S. military computer networks, equipping an IA workforce that is educated and trained to meet these challenges is an imperative. Throughout government, efforts are underway to address this requirement.

To address complex information assurance mission requirements, the DoD Chief Information Officer directed the services to improve the skill level of the information assurance workforce (IAWF).

In response to DoD Directive 8570.1, Information Assurance Training, Certification and Workforce Management, the DON CIO has chartered a department-wide IA workforce working group (IAWWG) to identify and improve policy, processes and tools to transform the department's future IA workforce. Some of these major initiatives include:

• Improving how IA orientation and refresher awareness training is delivered;
• Identifying standardized IA qualifications, training and certifications; and
• Developing procedures to identify and manage IA positions with trained and certified personnel.

But how do you train a forward deployed force? The Fleet Commanders IAWF Improvement Initiative was designed to meet this challenge.

While on a seven-month deployment, Sailors from the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group completed a successful IA commercial certification training and testing pilot. This initiative will pave the way for the afloat Navy to meet DoD's goal that requires approximately 110,000 military, civilian and support contractors, throughout all services and agencies, to be IA commercially certified by December 2010.

Led by USS Lincoln's combat systems information officer Lt. Cmdr. David White, the IAWF from the carrier, and its escort ships, chose three different training methods for the pilot program.

Lincoln Strike Group Sailors took Security+ commercially developed training via Navy e-Learning SkillSoft courses; Carnegie Mellon University's Virtual Training Environment that includes labs and mentors; and commercial certification courses.

Anthony Solano, an instructor from the Ultimate Knowledge Institute Corp., led Security+ training classes for about 100 Sailors during Lincoln's deployment. Information systems technician chief petty officers from the ship's combat systems department administered the commercial certification exams using the Pearson VUE electronic testing platform.

Standing up Pearson VUE test centers afloat also enables testing for other certifications, including Adobe and Cisco certifications.

"The ship can claim bragging rights with 95 percent of the Lincoln Strike Group IAWF now holding an IA commercial certification. Overall Navy certification status is at almost 40 percent. Many ashore units have high passage rates, but afloat operational tempo makes it more difficult to achieve," said Mike Knight, Naval Network Warfare Command program manager for IAWF management.

Sailors, afloat and ashore, are studying for commercial certification courses every day so lessons learned from the Lincoln pilot will be shared with other carrier strike groups to facilitate training.

Free exams are available to IAWF Sailors through the Navy’s Credentials Program Office. The program office also helps determine eligibility and provides free test vouchers for other commercial certifications. More information can be found on the Navy Credentials Program Web site at https://www.cool.navy.mil.

Being able to train and test underway will help the Navy achieve not only DoD IAWF requirements but also DON continuous learning requirements. The Lincoln pilot also demonstrated that while some Sailors thrive in a live classroom environment, others do well with online courses and in the Virtual Training Environment.

"Deckplate leadership from the chief petty officers, which includes training, mentoring and motivation of the Sailors, was the key to our success," White said.

Mary Purdy provides support to the DON CIO IT Workforce Team.

EVERETT, Wash. (Oct. 12, 2008) Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) arrives in its homeport of Everett Wash. Lincoln is returning from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class N. Brett Morton.
EVERETT, Wash. (Oct. 12, 2008) Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) arrives in its homeport of Everett Wash. Lincoln is returning from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class N. Brett Morton.
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