Final approval of officer and enlisted warfare programs for Information Dominance personnel was great news. A rigorous qualification program has the potential to further professionalize the field, but to do so, the program must be respected.
The good news of program approval was bolstered by a recent Navy Times article, available here, cut and paste from the 29Sep10 CHINFO Clips: Info Warrios, Get Your Pins – by Mark Faram, Navy Times 04Oct10.
In the article, Fleet Master Chief Jay Powers, the senior enlisted Sailor in Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet, committed to a qualification program without grandfathering, the practice of accepting experience in lieu Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) completion. Master Chief Powers’ intent was quite clear; “There will be no fast-tracking or grandfathering of qualifications,” an idea he said was discussed and “hotly contested.”
Disallowing grandfathering is exactly how warfare qualifications should be; however, Master Chief Power’s comments only apply to the Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist (EIDWS) program; they do not apply to Information Dominance Officer (IDO) qualifications. In fact, the IDO program has an established Accelerated Qualification Process. Behold the double standard.
Sadly, Cyber Command/10th Fleet leaders decided to set different standards for their officers and their enlisted Sailors. Certain officers, many in fact, need only minimal experience and some other qualifications (many experience-based themselves) to qualify for an accelerated qualification process approved by Vice Admiral Dorsett . Officers eligible for fast-tracking need only complete an e-learning tutorial and a 30-question exam for final IWO completion. Although for many it will introduce new information, it’s far from challenging. At least one officer with average experience completed the review and the test (successfully) in just a few hours.
A two-hour review and a 30-question test do anything but maintain the integrity of the program, an imperative according to FLTCM Powers’ interview with Navy Times.
Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet leaders need to quickly reconsider their approach to qualifying a number of officers with a fast-track program, even one which is only available for a short time. As Fleet Master Chief Powers told Navy Times, “anything seen as making it easier for a select few would ‘erode the credibility of EIDWS.’”
And so it would for any warfare qualification, officer or enlisted. In this case, fast-tracking IWO qualifications will not only erode the credibility of a brand new warfare program, it risks eroding the credibility of the nascent IDC community as a whole.
Obviously some number of officers and enlisted members of the IDC need to be designated as qualified in Information Dominance based on experience and a RIGOROUS delta training and examination; otherwise there will be nobody to qualify the less experienced members of the community. But any group so qualified should be strictly limited to the most experienced officers (perhaps CWO4s and 5s, LDO LCDRs and all CDRs and CAPTs) and senior enlisted professionals (perhaps SCPOs and MCPOs).
The Information Dominance Corps needs to treat its officer and enlisted leaders equally, and get rid of the double standard. Doing otherwise could do significant damage to the reputation of IDC officers and the community itself.
And respect as warfighters might already be something the IDC needs to work on.