SUFFOLK, Va. (NNS) --
Information Professional (IP) restricted line officers are going to sea as Communications Officers (COMMO) on combatants - destroyers (DDG), cruisers (CG), and amphibious dock landing (LSD) ships - in a program called the Afloat Network Security Initiative (ANSI).
The purpose of the IP onboard is to deliver cybersecurity trained officers to lead onboard network teams in the maintenance and defense of shipboard systems; to provide an additional division officer focused on network security and associated tasks; and to work with Surface Warfare Assistant COMMOs to increase and sustain warfighting readiness.
The program has performed to expectations.
"The vast majority of the feedback has been very positive," said Capt. Rick Larson, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) deputy chief information officer, who has overseen the program. "COs who were not sure of what to do with an IP officer have come to rely greatly on them and have wondered how they managed without them. Most have been integrated into the crew well and have made great strides in increasing cybersecurity readiness for the ships."
About 40 ships have IP COMMOs, but ultimately all 113 DDGs, CGs and LSDs will have IP COMMOs with the rank of lieutenant junior grade. Plans call for 100 of the billets to be filled in FY 19 with lieutenant junior grades because of a shortage of IP officers available at that rank. Until there are enough IP Lt. j.g. officers, the community will fill the positions with ensigns, lieutenants, limited duty officers and chief warrant officers from the IP community. A surface warfare ensign serves as assistant COMMO. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Board determined that the amount of work required to lead and manage the radio division required two officers.
IP officers also have seen their training model change to accommodate their new responsibilities and to accommodate the increased manpower demands from the new billets. The community transitioned from an eight-week to a 20-week IP basic course in August 2016 and is evaluating experience opportunities to allow for the completion of the information warfare and IP basic qualifications prior to ANSI COMMO tours.
The new IP basic course has graduated 14 students from the pilot class, 17 students will graduate July 11 and 18 on Sept.12. The current plan is to have six classes per year for a total of 132 quotas. The leadership at the new Information Warfare Training Center has committed to a seventh class if necessary.
The IP Afloat ANSI program started as a pilot program in 2015 following a 2014 Memorandum of Agreement between NAVIFOR and Commander, Naval Surface Forces. CNO made the program permanent in August 2015.
The pilot program started with USS Normandy (CG 60) and included a total of 10 ships with the IP officers reporting during the year as the jobs opened.
NAVIFOR's mission is to provide combat-ready information warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.
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