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    Inaugural Information Warfare Cruise Allows Midshipmen to Deep Dive on a Career as an Information Warfighter

    Inaugural Information Warfare Cruise Allows Midshipmen to Deep Dive on a Career as an Information Warfighter

    Photo By Jacquelynn Fisher | 210729-N-N0105-1003 - U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen Class of 2022 pose for a group...... read more read more



    Story by Jacquelynn Fisher 

    Naval Information Forces

    SUFFOLK, Va. – U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) First Class Midshipmen now have the opportunity to take a deep dive into the Information Warfare (IW) Community prior to service selection week, when they apply for their chosen designator upon graduation. Traditionally, Midshipmen summer training meant spending time on a ship, an aircraft carrier, a submarine, or a supply corps command. All that changed this summer with the establishment of the IW Community Cruise.
    The last several years have seen USNA accession numbers for the IW Community increase. Providing an IW Community Cruise better prepares future IW officers as they progress through their academic training and then join the Fleet. The goal is to have the IW Community make a strong, positive impression on the Midshipmen prior to their service selection, to help them decide if a career in the IW Community is right for them.
    Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, Commander, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), established her end-goal expectations to the IW Commanders and Officers in Charge. "You and your teams are to connect with these Midshipmen and communicate how our domain brings both IW capabilities to the fleet and underpins all other warfighting operations," said Aeschbach. "Highlight the pivotal role IW plays in support of strategic competition, fleet design, and Distributed Maritime Operations. Share what the IW enterprise brings to the table across all levels of warfare, and what drives you and our teams daily. Talk to them about why you love what you do."
    The IW Community Cruise gives Midshipmen a first-hand look at real-world environments and the ability to learn directly from the IW Community in the following IW disciplines: Cryptologic Warfare (CW), Cyber Warfare Engineer (CWE), Information Professional (IP), Intelligence (Intel), and Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC).
    The IW Community Cruise starts with Core Week. Midshipmen in Core Week collectively receive briefings and visit various IW commands throughout the domain. For this year's cruise, Aeschbach kicked off the IW Community Cruise with an 'iBoss Welcome Brief' at Naval Information Warfare Development Center. Midshipmen then toured the Fleet Weather Center, Norfolk (FWC-N); 2nd Fleet; U.S. Fleet Forces; Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC); Naval Network Warfare Command (NNWC); Navy Information Warfare Training Group; and Naval Computer & Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT).
    Designed to showcase the IW Community as a competitive and exciting warfare community to the next generation of naval leaders, the breadth of the IW Community cruise is geared to impress upon the Midshipmen the fact "that IW is foundational to our nation's ability to compete, deter, and win," according to Aeschbach. Tours and briefs provided to the Midshipmen at the various commands kept that fact in mind.
    Each command tour offered the Midshipmen the opportunity to speak with IW officers, some of whom were once Midshipmen too. Upon arrival at NCTAMS LANT, the Midshipmen were paired with an IP junior officer who stayed with their assigned Midshipman throughout the tour to answer their questions about NCTAMS and life as an IP. The Midshipmen were given a full tour of the site including visits to Tech Control, Message Center, and the Joint Fleet Telecommunications Operation Center watch floor.
    Afterward, they were briefed by Lt. Cmdr. Andy Rucker, NCTAMS LANT Communications Officer and a 2005 USNA graduate, and LCDR Dimitri Hatley, NCTAMS LANT Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications Officer, and a 2011 USNA graduate, on the unique opportunities and assignments available to officers in the IP Community. They described the variety of shipboard assignments that first-tour IP Officers are eligible for in the Afloat Network Security Initiative Program / Junior IP Officer Training Program.
    Closing out this tour, Capt. Bradley Kinkead, Commanding Officer, NCTAMS LANT, and a USNA 1993 graduate addressed the group. Kinkead provided his perspective as a senior IP Officer, took additional questions, and strongly encouraged the Midshipmen to consider the IP Community for their service selection.
    “The Midshipmen’s visit to NCTAMS LANT enabled them to gain valuable insight into not only the critical 24/7 role that NCTAMS LANT plays in maintaining Assured C2 for over 150 fleet and shore units, but the wider IP community as a whole,” said Rucker.
    Other stops on the IW Cruise included the watch floors of FWC-N, and NNWC and NCDOC, two commands that share a joint watch floor space. Lt. Shuntiyea Langston, NCDOC’s Navy Red Team Operational Officer, and Lt. j.g. Megan Cessna, NCDOC’s Cyber Threat Analysis and Reporting Division Officer, escorted the Midshipmen and discussed the mission priorities of NCDOC and the commands within the IW community as well as for the Fleet.
    “They were given a tour of our watch floor by the Battle Watch Captain of how we receive information and the process the watch floor undergoes to determine if there is a compromise and if so, what kind it is,” said Cessna. Topics covered on the watch floor included Countermeasures, Incident Handling, and the Black Knights' role, the watch floor's analyst team. Cessna, a CW officer and USNA 2018 graduate, also oversaw the portion of the NCDOC tour where the Midshipmen reviewed some of the intelligence products NCDOC disseminates.
    Langston, a former Cryptologic Technicians (Collection) Sailor and a 2016 USNA graduate, explained how the Navy Red Team tests the Navy’s networks for any vulnerabilities. Department Heads for the Defensive Cyberspace Operations (DCO) Afloat team and 552 Cyber Protection Team (CPT), Lt. Case Shillieto and Lt. Tori Caldwell, explained their hand-in-hand working relationship with the Fleet in exercises, operations, and for network compromises. Shillieto is an IP officer; Caldwell is a CW officer.
    The IW Cruise included more than brick and mortar stops. Midshipmen also toured a CVN, including a tour of the primary IW spaces onboard and had discussions with the Information Warfare Commander (IWC) and the Deputy IWC. This unique perspective gave the Midshipmen the chance to see first-hand the types of billets they can hold as a junior IW officer, as well as what they can strive for at the O5 / O6 level – to have command or become an IW Commander.
    After Core Week, the Midshipmen splintered off into Strand Week. The length of this part of the IW Community Cruise lasted from one to two weeks depending on the chosen designator - CW, CWE, IP, Intel, or and METOC.
    USNA’s Class of 2022 was the first to participate in the IW Cruise, and the experience was well received. "More than anything, the information received in Core Week made me realize just how vast the Navy truly is. As someone who has to select my designator in a couple of weeks, I've thought long and hard about what exactly I want to do in the Navy," said Midshipman 1st Class George Yang. "After attending Core Week, I realized that my answer is quite simple: I want to do everything. In particular, the Cryptologic Community can offer me a good taste of everything that the Navy can offer, from direct support of the aviation community to hunt-forward teams. Through this community, I can interact with everyone and everything to make a tangible effect on our Navy's operations. This aspect of Core Week is what made it truly indispensable, and I'm excited to see what the future and the Navy have in store for me."
    "Going into the IW Cruise I had an idea of what I wanted to service select, but the cruise opened my eyes to the possibilities the Navy has to offer within the IW Community, concurs fellow classmate, Midshipmen 1st Class Peter Pryharski. "My choice to select Information Professional was solidified during the cruise because of the tours we went on and the people I met within the community. I have wanted to select IP for a while now, but the most beneficial part of the core week was understanding what the other communities within IW accomplish. It amazed me how all of the communities within IW are so intertwined and how much they work together on a daily basis."
    The IW Community Cruise will now be an annual event, divided into two or three blocks to allow for maximum participation. NAVIFOR intends to explore including Naval Recruit Officer Training Command Midshipmen and adding a Space strand in the coming years.
    NAVIFOR’s mission is to generate, directly and through our leadership of the IW Enterprise, agile and technically superior manned, trained, equipped, and certified combat-ready IW forces to ensure our Navy will decisively DETER, COMPETE, and WIN.
    For more information on NAVIFOR, visit the command Facebook page at or the public web page at




    Date Taken: 08.23.2021
    Date Posted: 08.23.2021 10:53
    Story ID: 403715
    Location: SUFFOLK, VA, US 

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