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PEARL HARBOR - As the importance of information dominance has grown, so too has the need for U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) Sailors to be skilled in the information technology field. In the past, PACFLT staff Sailors earned the Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist (EIDWS) pin at other commands. That all changed March 1, 2016, when the PACFLT EIDWS instruction was signed, opening the doors for two PACFLT Sailors to earn their pins.
Master Chief Cryptologic Technician Collection Tara O'Brien and Chief Intelligence Specialist Jared Jeppson, pinned April 21, are the first to earn the EIDWS insignia from PACFLT.
"It feels good to be one of the first to be pinned at PACFLT," O'Brien said. "It is definitely a plus for our Sailors. We can do everything right here and we don't have to go through another organization to get qualified. It's phenomenal because you have a lot of Sailors that are going to come here first term on shore duty, in a rate that does not see much sea time, have the chance to earn a warfare pin."
The Navy established the EIDWS program Feb. 19, 2010, with a goal of providing a common link among the information dominance corps (IDC) communities. Navy Information Dominance Forces (NAVIDFOR) released a message in June 2015 that revised who can administer the program.
"There were some business rule on whether your command can have a program or not," said Master Chief Intelligence Specialist Jason Martin, PACFLT EIDWS program manager. "That depended on if you had enough information warfare (IW) Sailors. PACFLT did not qualify at first, because the staff was so diversified, but when we added all detachments that we support and added those numbers to the mix, we then had a meeting to show our intent and got the thumbs up to start the program."
Martin, who was qualified at his previous command, built the program from the ground up, to achieve specific knowledge, skills and experiences to enhance the Sailors' understanding of information warfare, and to increase the Navy's warfighting and mission effectiveness.
"The number one reason for PACFLT to have this program was accessibility and professional development; making Sailors more aware of the mission set," said Martin. "We have different disciplines of IW Sailors who are now cross pollinating with one another. Warfare programs are essential in ensuring our Sailors understand and are able to effectively engage a situation, operate effectively and ensure backup as needed on a daily basis."
Martin said building the program was a lengthy process and required establishing controls.
"All warfare programs only stand on their integrity and I want PACFLT to be the gold standard," he said. "We are a flag command and we should be leading at the front. When it came to developing this program we strived for excellence. We made sure we did everything right and are always inspection ready."
The EIDWS program was designed to institute a rigorous qualification program to identify highly qualified and diversified information dominance professionals. It covers specific knowledge pertaining to the IDC ratings. To qualify, Sailors must demonstrate an understanding of several rates, including aerographer's mate, cryptologic technician, information systems technician, and intelligence. The updated program opened the door for serval hundred IW Sailors and reservists who would normally have a hard time earning their qualification.
"It is an arduous and often unforgiving environment we Sailors normally operate in," O'Brien said. "It dictates the need for all personnel to have a basic understanding and operating knowledge of the IDC platform as it pertains to warfighting, mission effectiveness, and command survivability."
The new PACFLT Staff program is open to personnel in IDC ratings who meet the prerequisites and may become available next year to other Staff Sailors on a case-by-case basis.