Archive for the 'Information Dominance' Tag

Much has been written of late about “Creating Cyber Warriors” within the Navy’s Officer Corps. In fact, three prominent and well-respected members of the Navy’s Information Dominance Corps published a very well articulated article by that very title in the October 2012 edition of Proceedings. It is evident that the days of feeling compelled to advocate for such expertise within our wardroom are behind us. We have gotten passed the WHY and are in the throes of debating the WHAT and HOW. In essence, we know WHY we need cyber expertise and we know WHAT cyber expertise we need. What we don’t seem to have agreement on is WHO should deliver such expertise and HOW do we get there.

As a proud member of both the Cryptologic Community and the Information Dominance Corps, I feel confident stating the responsibility for cultivating such expertise lies squarely on our own shoulders. The Information Dominance Corps, and more specifically the Cryptologic and Information Professional Communities, have a shared responsibility to “Deliver Geeks to the Fleet.” That’s right, I said “Geeks” and not “Cyber Warriors.” We don’t need, and despite the language many are using, the Navy doesn’t truly want “Cyber Warriors.” We need and want “Cyber Geeks.” Rather than lobby for Unrestricted Line status, which seems to be the center of gravity for some, we should focus entirely on delivering operational expertise regardless of our officer community designation.

For far too long, many people in the Restricted Line Communities have looked at the Unrestricted Line Communities as the cool kids in school. Some consider them the “in-crowd” and want to sit at their lunch table. Some think wearing another community’s warfare device validates us as naval officers and is the path to acceptance, opportunity, and truly fitting in. We feel an obligation to speak their language, understand the inner workings of their culture, and act more and more like them. Some have grown so weary of being different or considered weird that many would say we’ve lost our identity. Though establishment of the Information Dominance Corps has revitalized our identity, created a unity of effort amongst us in the information mission areas, and further established information as a legitimate warfare area, many continue to advocate that we are lesser because of our Restricted Line status. We seem to think we want and need to be Unrestricted Line Officers ourselves. Why? Sure, we would like to have direct accessions so that we can deliberately grow and select the specialized expertise necessary to deliver cyber effects to the Fleet. Yes, we would like a seat at the power table monopolized by Unrestricted Line Officers. And yes, we would appreciate the opportunity to have more of our own enjoy the levels of influence VADM Mike Rogers currently does as Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, U.S. TENTH Fleet.

But there is another path; a path that celebrates, strengthens, and capitalizes on our uniqueness.

In the private sector, companies are continually racing to the middle so they can appeal to the masses. It’s a race to the bottom that comes from a focus on cutting costs as a means of gaining market share. There are, however, some obvious exceptions, my favorite of which is Apple. Steve Jobs was not overly interested in addressing customers’ perceived desires. Instead, he anticipated the needs of the marketplace, showed the world what was possible before anyone else even dreamt it, and grew a demand signal that did not previously exist. He was not interested in appealing to the masses and he surely wasn’t focused on the acceptance of others in his industry. He was focused on creating unique value (i.e. meaningful entrepreneurship over hollow innovation), putting “a dent in the universe,” and delivering a product about which he was personally proud. We know how this approach evolved. The market moved toward Apple; the music, movie, phone, and computing industries were forever changed; and the technological bar was raised with each product delivered under his leadership. Rather than lobby for a seat at the table where other leaders were sitting, he sat alone and watched others pick up their trays to sit with him. Even those who chose not to sit with him were looking over at his table with envy, doing their best to incrementally build on the revolutionary advances only he was able to realize.

Rather than seek legitimacy by advocating to be part of Team Unrestricted Line, we ought to focus on delivering so much value that we are considered a vital part of each and every team because of our uniqueness. I am reminded of a book by Seth Godin titled “We Are All Weird.” In it he refers to “masses” as the undifferentiated, “normal” as the defining characteristics of the masses, and “weird” as those who have chosen not to blindly conform to the way things have always been done. For the sake of argument, let’s consider the Unrestricted Line Officers as the masses, those considering themselves “warfighters” as the normal, and the Information Dominance Corps as the weird. I say the last with a sense of hope. I hope that we care enough to maintain our weirdness and that we don’t give in to the peer pressure that could drive us to lobby for a seat at what others perceive to be “The Cool Table.” By choosing to be weird and committing more than ever to embrace our geekiness, the table perceived to be cool will be the one at which the four Information Dominance Communities currently sit. It won’t happen by accident, but it will happen, provided we want it to happen. Not because we want to be perceived as “cool,” but because we are so good at what we do, and we deliver so much unique value to the Navy and Nation, that no warfighting team is considered complete without its own personal “Cyber Geek.”

I sincerely respect the opinions voiced in the article to which I referred earlier in this post. However, I think we are better than we give ourselves credit for. Let’s not conform, let’s create. Let’s not generalize, let’s specialize. Let’s not be normal, let’s be weird. Let’s choose to be Geeks.

CDR Sean Heritage is an Information Warfare Officer who is currently transitioning from Command of NIOC Pensacola to Staff Officer at U.S. Cyber Command. He regularly posts to his leadership-focused blog, Connecting the Dots.

Fouled Anchor Intro: This post appears at the request of a leader in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and its Self-Synchronization Team, known as the IDCSync. While the subject may appear a bit specialized on the surface, the concept should have wide appeal, particularly for other relatively small communities. It should also be of interest to members of other warfare communities, arguably beneficiaries of the IDC’s specialized skills, and the IDC can only benefit from your comments and contributions.

I was compelled to ask before posting it how are the discussions, since many take place on Facebook, are they anonymous. Well, Facebook obviously isn’t, but many of the ideas shared via IDCSync appear in their weekly newsletter. They are submitted anonymously or come from other non-attributed sources. They may originate anywhere, from offline discussions to passing comments or unofficial gripes. It is proving an effective means of converting ideas which may have died in the passageway to discussions with a Flag audience.

There are many outlets for this type of post, but the IDCSync sought publication here, on your USNI Blog, because they understand that this blog has Navy-wide relevance and reach…much like the IDC itself.



In the spirit of taking permission, demonstrating horizontal leadership, and active communication, the below post comes from the “Cloud of Collaboration” that is the Information Dominance Corps Self-Synchronization Team…

“Fostering Collaboration and Conversation Across the IDC”

They have never met in person, individually or as a group, yet they are a team in the strongest sense of the word. They volunteer their time. Their work is strictly unofficial. Their individual anonymity ensures only the group as a whole gains credit for their actions. Their collective efforts enable collaboration and ensure collective situational awareness across a newly-formed community. They are self-starters who believe in “making time” for the collective good of that community. They are the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Self Synchronization Team.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ordered the establishment of the IDC on October 6, 2009. As outlined in OPNAV Instruction 5300.12, “the IDC has been created within the U.S. Navy to more effectively and collaboratively lead and manage a cadre of officers, enlisted, and civilian professionals who possess skills in information-intensive fields.” Those personnel include Information Professional (IP) officers and Information Technicians (IT), Information Warfare (IW) officers and Cryptologic Technicians (CT), Naval Intelligence officers and Intelligence Specialists (IS), Oceanography (OCEANO) officers and Aerographer’s Mates (AG), select members of the Space Cadre, and associated civilians. Under the leadership of the newly-established Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6) the IDC encompasses more than 47,000 Navy professionals.

The IDC Self Synchronization effort — IDCsync for short — began shortly after the IDC was established with just one person and an idea: Find a way to bring the members of the IDC together using the latest in collaboration and communication tools.

That individual effort soon grew with the addition of a number of like-minded individuals. Today, the IDCsync Team is as diverse as the IDC itself with team members hailing from the ranks of active and reserve force enlisted and officer ranks, as well as civilian members of the community. Their guiding principle is “making time;” each member makes time to make their environment, their shipmates, and the entire IDC better.

The group’s greatest strength, beyond its members, is its unofficial status. This is a grassroots effort of IDC members working for and with other IDC members to move the community forward. As an independent initiative, the individual efforts of the team members are not constrained by anything more than the group’s collective approval. But as IDC members themselves, the group has a vested interest in forwarding a productive, collaborative dialogue aimed at improving the IDC as a whole.

Tools and Channels

To reach the members of the IDC, the IDCsync Team employs a number of channels drawn from the tools of the trade of the information age (and the IDC) — email (using a newsletter format), the web, and various social media venues.

Most of the effort is concentrated on the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook site, which currently serves over 2,000 members. The page’s stated purpose is “To share unclassified information, enhance our collective situational awareness and facilitate the development of a common Navy IDC culture.”

IDCsync Team members independently post information relevant to the IDC on the Facebook page, coordinating their efforts electronically via a team coordination site and online chat. Information shared runs the gamut of the IDC interest areas — technology, innovation, and leadership issues included. if it’s deemed pertinent to the IDC, it is posted on the site. The ultimate goal is to spark conversation and collaboration between members.

In recognition of its growing audience and increasing reach, the site has been used by members of the IDC Flag Deck to disseminate official correspondence and reach the greater IDC collective. IDCsync’s audience includes everyone from the backbone of the IDC, our enlisted Sailors, to commanding officers, current and former IDC Flag Officers, and civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) staff. Administrators and site members alike can post information, share ideas, and collaborate.

The primary IDC Self Synchronization web site contains pertinent IDC documents and resources with the intent of creating a “one stop” library of information.

The team also sends out a weekly newsletter which encapsulates Facebook posts for the previous week. The same information is also disseminated via Twitter, Google+ (Google’s new social networking site), and eChirp on Intelink-U. Details of all the venues are available on the web page.

With the IDC Self Synchronization team and tools in place, the only missing element is you.

Does the idea of sharing, collaborating, and enhancing the professional knowledge of the community resonate with you? Then now is the time to step out of the audience and join the conversation. Join your community conversation by visiting the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook and web sites today. The forum belongs to you — make it your own!

To learn more, visit, post a comment on Facebook, or email your questions/comments to

Making Time,

IDC Self Synchronization Team