Information Warfare Warriors: Camp Lemonnier Certifies First IDWS Class
For the first time in Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti's eight-year history, 12 U.S. Navy sailors stationed on camp were certified in the Information Dominance Warfare Specialist program - a branch of the Navy warfare qualification program focused on information dominance, October 21.
The sailors, seven active duty and five reservists, have worked since March 2011 to implement and participate in the IDWS program on camp.
"Regardless of what command (a sailor) is in, he or she needs to understand the mission and how to contribute to it," said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Loretta Glenn, camp senior enlisted leader. "The IDWS program provides a basic understanding of a particular job, which allows you to go and help wherever needed."
The IDWS program was approved and implemented across the Navy by the chief of naval operations in September 2010. Its purpose is to provide a link between the U.S. Navy Information Dominance Corps and its professionals in the field. Both enlisted and officer ranks are open to pursue their respective warfare devices. But, before an individual can pursue either the enlisted IDWS device or the Information Dominance Warfare Officer device, the sailor must first meet certain qualification standards, as outlined in naval instructions. After the initial standards are met, an applicant must demonstrate proficiency on four core ratings: information technology, cryptologic technology, intelligence and aerographic operations. After eligibility is determined, the applicant must pass both a written and oral exam before meeting with a board. The time it takes to complete the IDWS program depends on an individual's investment, said Petty Officer 1st Class Desiree Dukes, information systems technician, who helped organize and develop the program from its inception. "The program is open to everyone," she said. "It depends on the level of dedication they invest in the program -- how hungry they are. This is a difficult and commitment-heavy program, but it sets those who complete it apart from everyone else." Initially, the IDWS program was established to allow camp personnel to qualify for a warfare pin, because Camp Lemonnier functions are not considered expeditionary in nature, said Glenn. However, during the development phases of the project, the IDWS program was expanded to include personnel from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, provided they have already earned an EXW device, which demonstrates the mastery of skills required for their expeditionary warfare assignment. Within the Navy, and according to instruction, it's a requirement for enlisted sailors attached to an Information Dominance command with an approved EIDWS program to earn a warfare device. Although Camp Lemonnier is not such a command, for some, like Dukes, the introduction of IDWS to the camp marked the opportunity to earn her first pin. "As a reservist, I didn't have many opportunities to earn a warfare device," she said. "This is extremely important to me. I was honored to be included in the program." In addition to being a revered honor among sailors, Glenn said the warfare device also signifies versatility and dedication to the mission. It shows a desire to be ready and able to handle tasks outside typical duties and responsiblilities, which gives a sailor a sense of inclusion in the overall mission of the camp. "It gives the sailors at Camp Lemonnier a sense of ownership in the mission as a whole," said Glenn. "If I come to you during a crisis and need you to perform a job outside of your normal duties, the warfare device tells me you have the skills to complete the mission at hand." In order to present this opportunity to service members at Camp Lemonnier and its tenant units, a group of dedicated individuals devoted the time to making this concept a reality, by creating an operational program from the ground up. Although some of the original program architects redeployed prior to its launch, which prevented them from earning the device, a handful of sailors were able to see the process through in its entirety. According to Senior Chief Petty Officer William Wallen, a reservist and individual augmentee as well as the camp information systems senior enlisted leader, contributors like Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Foster, electronics technician, were vital in ensuring the process was handled smoothly. "Foster has been there since the beginning," said Wallen. "She delivered quite a few of the (required) lectures to the subject matter experts -- probably more than any other individual involved." Foster lent her technical expertise toward the creation of the IDWS Personal Qualification Series, a common series used in every aspect of training in the Navy. This document, which became the study manual for the course itself, was broken down into three groups: common core, platform specific and Camp Lemonnier specific sections. An individual pursuing a warfare qualification device must demonstrate profiency in all areas on the PQS before being pinned. Foster encouraged anyone interested in pursuing the IDWS device to stay driven and focused on the end goal. "Don't get discouraged or give up on the qualifications," Foster said. "I saw this program being built from the ground up. There were times where I thought it would never get going, let alone would I see a qualification before I left here.
"Completing the oral board put everything into perspective for me," she said. "I saw all the hard work and dedication that every subject matter expert, including the ones who have already redeployed, put into this program. What each of them did made it a reality. I can't thank each and every one of them enough." Wallen also had high praise for the people involved, citing their dedication to class coordination, scheduling and acquiring presenters. He was impressed by how proficient sailors like Dukes were, even though this was her first exposure to the warfare specialist process.
"Getting this program going was a great example of a team effort," he said. "We couldn't do it without all the folks involved."
Each person involved shared a sense of ownership in the project, said Wallen. "This program is very meaningful to personnel on camp looking to earn this device," said Dukes. "I feel very proud to have a personal stake in the program." Wallen mentioned of essential contributions by Petty Officers 1st Class John Matthews, information systems technician; Rex Selvaratnam, information systems technician; Andreco Cline, aerographer's mate; and Senior Chief Patrick Thomas, yeoman, to the success of the program. "The time and effort that it has taken to establish this program from the ground floor has been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding," said Matthews, a reservist who also works as a solutions architect. "To work with the great individuals who served on this establishment has been one of the highlights of my career."
He said the teamwork and pride demonstrated by the group made the end result all the more amazing and unique.
"This also allowed an opportunity for me to gain a warfare qualification, which is extremely difficult to do as a reservist," said Matthews. "To have this qualification be based upon my civilian career and Navy career was a big plus."
It was a sentiment echoed by Glenn, who said the success of the project was directly because of the people involved and their level of commitment. "These are the the plank owners of the program here," she said. "They made this happen."