NORFOLK (NNS) -- Officers serving in an expeditionary command now have the opportunity to earn an additional qualification designation (AQD) with the establishment of the expeditionary warfare AQD.
The AQD was announced in a naval message released in June by the commanders of Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger.
The qualification provides officers to impact the global environment while serving in an expeditionary capacity. The AQD allows officers to expand their skill sets from blue water traditional warfare into the littoral and irregular warfare battlespace.
Leadership at NECC, the type command sponsor for the expeditionary officer AQD, identified a need to provide officers serving in expeditionary units with a designation that signifies their enhanced level of operational performance and allows them to remain competitive for promotion.
"These types of tours are extremely important and will give officers the skill sets that will make them a better overall surface warfare officer (SWO)," Pottenger said. "They're not off track, they're not substandard, they're not secondary to a normal division officer tour. I think the officers themselves will be our best mode of broadcast."
The AQD is available for officers of any designator who have completed, or will complete, an operational 18-month tour within NECC. Also, any officer serving as a qualified riverine warfare officer or as a combatant craft unconventional warfare officer can request the AQD via their detailer.
Since the start of the command in 2006, NECC has matured maritime expeditionary capability in the green and brown water environments. This capability has been provided to combatant commanders primarily through riverine and maritime expeditionary security force (MESF) units. Examples include riverine units providing security to protect critical infrastructure in Iraq and patrolling Iraqi rivers in search of weapons caches, MESF providing force protection for Military Sealift Command chartered vessels in support of antipiracy operations, providing point defense for Iraqi oil terminals and training Iraqi forces to perform this mission.
"Successful execution of these unique expeditionary missions requires seasoned professionals and a process to track these professionals in order to ensure we groom officers with the requisite skill sets to take on the challenges of commanding these forces," according to the naval message announcing the AQD.
Also, NECC has developed, in coordination with Navy Personnel Command's PERS-41, a derivation of the SWO's career path to allow for follow-up tours at riverine or MESF units. This would permit an initial tour at the division officer or department head level, with repeat tours as an O-4, O-5 and O-6. These are critical leadership and staff billets in riverine and MESF, including O-5 and O-6 command, tours that are well recognized as competitive SWO assignments, according to the message.
"This new career path provides great balance between traditional afloat sea tours and NECC tours," said Capt. Dave Steindl, head of Surface Warfare Assignments (PERS-41). "Coupled with other programs like XO/CO fleet-up and specialty career path, surface warfare officers now have more choices and flexibility in their career than ever before."
Pottenger agreed, and said, "The lieutenants that I have met are our best advertisement because they truly enjoy the opportunity to do something so unique, something like being the commander of a small boat detachment and the expeditionary combat training that they get for these particular assignments. They don't get to do anything like that anywhere else in the Navy."
Officers can contact their detailers for more on the the expeditionary warfare AQD and for more information regarding opportunities for tours in NECC.
For more news from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/necc/.