Doing the IWO PQS and IDWO PQS as a Reservist

Doing the IWO PQS and IDWO PQS as a Reservist

Postby Bull Ensign » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:26 pm

[SIZE="4"]The Reservist Problem[/SIZE]
I am trying to find ways to do the IWO PQS (and eventually the IDWO PQS) as a reservist. By "as a reservist" I mean by doing these qualifications with as little active duty time as possible.

[SIZE="4"]My Problem[/SIZE]
My issue is that I cannot continue to choose the Navy over my civillian employer and career. I am in a position where I am at a high level and have no replacement. While business was slow I was able to take a lot of time off to take care of things like IWBC, however that is no longer the case.

[SIZE="4"]My Attempt at a Solution[/SIZE]
I am attempting to come up with some sort of plan and curriculum starting with the IWO PQS, to get sign-offs without having to do more months of active duty. This plan and curriculum however depends on several questions that I am trying to get answers to.

1. Can we get IWO PQS credit for IWBC? [color="Red"]NO[/color]
I am aware of how controversial this question is, but at some point in the recent past a lot of 100 and 200 series credit was given in a letter after graduating the course. This letter is no longer given. This is a big deal because the number of signatures you got credit for in IWBC was roughly 75% of the PQS. I have been running this question up my chain of command for quite some time; those items which credit were given for are not mission specific and are covered and tested on in the course.

2. Can we get PQS sign-off by qualified officers at out local command during the drill weekend? [color="Green"]YES[/color]
This is okay for some commands and not others. While my command has the ability we have yet to exercise it, and have not scheduled it into the drill weekend. I know that the Intel community does this with success at places.

3. Can get get virtual sign-off on the PQS? [color="DarkOrange"]UNKNOWN[/color]
Though VTC or NSTS, has anyone heard of being able to do a PQS item sign-off in this manner? Not for a watch standing obviously, but for a definition.

4. Can we get PQS sign-off at the parent command (one of the big four) on the weekend? [color="DarkOrange"]UNKNOWN[/color]
There are running 7 days a week, so this question is could a reservist drive down on a weekend and get sign-offs of any kind?

5. How long does it take to get the 100 and 200 series of the IWO PQS signed-off on?
There are about 350 definition related items. Is this something that could be worked through in 2 weeks, 2 months, or longer assuming the material is known? Maybe the first 4 questions are not as relevant if this is something that can be done in a reasonable amount of time active or reserve.

[SIZE="4"]The Timing[/SIZE]
For me and several other officers, it has taken almost 2 years just to get to point where we can attend IWBC. Waiting for clearance, waiting for a spot, and scheduling it into our civilian lives. It is after that point with 3 years left that we are fully capable of doing the IWO PQS and IDWO PQS.

This means the goal of this plan is for reservist officers to be able to complete the IWO and IDWO and 3 years.

I would greatly appreciate any advise, input, opinion, and experience on my questions and what I and others are trying to do.
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Postby das » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:02 pm

Bull Ensign wrote:[SIZE="4"]The Reservist Problem[/SIZE]
I am trying to find ways to do the IWO PQS (and eventually the IDWO PQS) as a reservist. By "as a reservist" I mean by doing these qualifications with as little active duty time as possible.

[SIZE="4"]My Problem[/SIZE]
My issue is that I cannot continue to choose the Navy over my civillian employer and career. I am in a position where I am at a high level and have no replacement. While business was slow I was able to take a lot of time off to take care of things like IWBC, however that is no longer the case.


The response you're likely to get is, "This is what you signed up for," or "What happens when you're deployed?"

The fact is, we all planned for the eventuality of deployment. In my case, I explicitly planned with my family and employer on at least one, perhaps two, 1-year deployments over an 8-year period. I planned on drill weekends, ATs, conferences, and the 10-15 hours/week of additional work I do for the Navy.

What many didn't plan on was four months of active duty orders for training when the our sister IDC communities of INTEL and IP have figured out how to train their Reserve Officers in a reserve-friendly (drill weekend/AT) format, and when the two-month long IWBC is supposed to handle most of the PQS.

[SIZE="4"]My Attempt at a Solution[/SIZE]
I am attempting to come up with some sort of plan and curriculum starting with the IWO PQS, to get sign-offs without having to do more months of active duty. This plan and curriculum however depends on several questions that I am trying to get answers to.

1. Can we get IWO PQS credit for IWBC? [color="Red"]NO[/color]
I am aware of how controversial this question is, but at some point in the recent past a lot of 100 and 200 series credit was given in a letter after graduating the course. This letter is no longer given. This is a big deal because the number of signatures you got credit for in IWBC was roughly 75% of the PQS. I have been running this question up my chain of command for quite some time; those items which credit were given for are not mission specific and are covered and tested on in the course.


As you have found, no. The entire purpose of the curriculum at IWBC is to teach the IWO PQS. But the story CID now tells is that the Big Four NIOCs were not pleased with the level of knowledge of the students coming out of IWBC, and could not agree on what would constitute an appropriate baseline level of knowledge. It was at this time that CID stopped signing off on the PQS entirely, leaving it up to a students' first command to take care of PQS and boards.

2. Can we get PQS sign-off by qualified officers at out local command during the drill weekend? [color="Green"]YES[/color]
This is okay for some commands and not others. While my command has the ability we have yet to exercise it, and have not scheduled it into the drill weekend. I know that the Intel community does this with success at places.


Yes, qualified Officers at your own command may sign off on any portion of the IWO and IDWO PQS. But at remote NR NIOCs not co-located with one of the Big Four, who may often only have one unqualified IW Officer, there is usually no structure or training plan, meaning there is no set or scheduled way to get signoffs. This is the case even though RDML Clusen, Deputy Reserve Commander of 10th Fleet, has said that a new reserve JO's "highest priority" should be completing the quals.

3. Can get get virtual sign-off on the PQS? [color="DarkOrange"]UNKNOWN[/color]
Though VTC or NSTS, has anyone heard of being able to do a PQS item sign-off in this manner? Not for a watch standing obviously, but for a definition.


Yes, definitely. I have done this via classified and unclassified VTC, and there's nothing to say it couldn't be done by phone if the signing Officer was comfortable with the process.

4. Can we get PQS sign-off at the parent command (one of the big four) on the weekend? [color="DarkOrange"]UNKNOWN[/color]
There are running 7 days a week, so this question is could a reservist drive down on a weekend and get sign-offs of any kind?


Yes, BUT. The "but" being you'd need to coordinate ahead of time, and many of the Big Four will likely end up wanting this to be arranged through your chain of command. That said, as long as you can get officers who agree to teach, assess, and/or sign off sections, you absolutely can do that.

5. How long does it take to get the 100 and 200 series of the IWO PQS signed-off on?
There are about 350 definition related items. Is this something that could be worked through in 2 weeks, 2 months, or longer assuming the material is known? Maybe the first 4 questions are not as relevant if this is something that can be done in a reasonable amount of time active or reserve.


Completely anecdotal and second-hand information, but I have heard comments like, "it's barely possible to do it in two months," but this is also a result of the fact that the IW community appears to prefer to use the same training pipeline that it uses for its active component to train the reserve component.

Meanwhile:

Reserve INTEL Officers go into a training pipeline which consists of 18 months of drill weekends (a DWE format NIOBC), at the end of which they have completed the requirements to become a qualified INTEL Officer. The INTEL community is also very Officer-heavy, meaning that every command has a very defined and visible interest in tracking, boarding, and qualifying their Officers.

Reserve IP Officers have been offering VTCs for the entirety of the IP and IDWO PQS, including the requisite signoffs, and have also been doing one- and two-week cruises and "boot camps" which cover the entire IP and IDWO PQS, conclude with a board, and result in members becoming qualified and receiving their pin.

The general Reserve IW answer is four-month active duty orders to your supported command for training -- after having already done two months at IWBC.

I can't argue with the reasoning that such a path will result in more exposure to real-world operations, and more prepared and well-rounded Reserve IW Officers. But the two month IWBC is explicitly designed, according to the IWBC Course Manager, to teach the IWO PQS -- yet IWBC doesn't sign off anything in the PQS, nor does it do anything other than "check the box" that one must attend IWBC. The explanation now offered is that IWBC is simply designed to "expose you to the material". But the analogous NIOBC and IPBC handle PQS items for INTEL and IP.

[SIZE="4"]The Timing[/SIZE]
For me and several other officers, it has taken almost 2 years just to get to point where we can attend IWBC. Waiting for clearance, waiting for a spot, and scheduling it into our civilian lives. It is after that point with 3 years left that we are fully capable of doing the IWO PQS and IDWO PQS.

This means the goal of this plan is for reservist officers to be able to complete the IWO and IDWO and 3 years.

I would greatly appreciate any advise, input, opinion, and experience on my questions and what I and others are trying to do.


So here is what I am doing:

- I have attended a number of IDWO sessions done via Defense Connect Online by the IP Community (unclassified VTC, essentially)
- I am doing self study
- Because my command's drill location is a 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live, I managed to secure access to a SCIF in my city about 10 minutes away. This was no easy task, but it gives me a place to study SCI material and to attend AC PQS VTCs offered at my supported command.

My plan is to have the IWO and IDWO PQS complete, or as near as possible, and everything else that can possibly be done remotely complete by the time I go to by supported NIOC — and I still plan on doing two 1-month ADTs to be successful.

It seems that some in our community have looked with scorn on the IP Community's "boot camp" concept for IP Basic and IDWO boarding, saying they can't possibly be turning out good officers. My question would be this: are they meeting the criteria laid out in the PQS, or not? It seems that's the question we should be asking, too.
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Postby Bull Ensign » Tue Sep 11, 2012 10:19 pm

Thanks for the information.

You are correct about the assumptions about the active duty requirements for completing the qualification process. I had planned for 2 months of IWBC, 1 month of study and related activity for boards, and the typical 2 weeks AT each year, with the knowledge that I would be going IA for a year a couple of times once qualified and O3.

It wasn't until pre-IWBC that I realized that there wasn't much of a plan for getting PQS signatures as a reservist. The initial reaction was that I would need to go active for 4-6 more months, which I just can't do. As I have started poking at this though over the last several months I have been finding out more and more that there is a plan in place (at least at my parent command); it just hasn't been executed yet.

1. Can we get IWO PQS credit for IWBC?

Yes, this is something that probably isn't going to change.

2. Can we get PQS sign-off by qualified officers at out local command during the drill weekend?

Luckily at my NR NIOC we have several qualified officers that have the ability to sign-off.

3. Can get get virtual sign-off on the PQS?

This is great news. I would have no problem taking off a Friday every now and then to meet at a scheduled time with someone from my parent command.

4. Can we get PQS sign-off at the parent command (one of the big four) on the weekend?

Also great news, but I would need to work it out with my parent command.

5. How long does it take to get the 100 and 200 series of the IWO PQS signed-off on?

Barely 2 months sounds about correct based on what I have heard. With the ability to get weekend sign-offs, to do sign-offs through VTC, and to visit the parent command on the weekends it sounds like there is a reserve option (with a lot of coordination).

There is also the plan in the works at my parent command, so hopefully I will be able to start getting sign-offs soon.

Also, there are a lot of similarities between the IWO and IWDO PQS. I have been advised to attempt to get dual sign-off where applicable. I have a matrix of the where the sections of each align if you would like it.
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recent experience

Postby SDecker » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:17 pm

I recently took five-month orders to Georgia to complete my IW and IDWO qualifications, because I faced the same dilemma. I completed IWBC last spring, and spent a year with my unit trying to get signatures and training. The problem I ran into is that the officers in my unit, although qualified, had been grandfathered in, and were not familiar with the pipeline requirements.

The issue is that the PQS covers an impressive breadth and depth of material, and as IW officers we need to not only be completely comfortable with the academics (terms, definitions, etc), we need to be able to apply them in an operational sense. The signatures were just the beginning. The qualification board assumed that you already knew those, since you had your signatures, had passed a written exam, and gone through a O-3 murder board that highlighted line item knowledge. What the board wanted to know was whether you could apply that to various scenarios.

Everyone is still trying to get a handle on how to qualify Reserve IWs with the same level of confidence that they have in Active IWs. If you look at the timeline, AD IWs have 18 months from the time they arrive at their command to qualify. That might not be their full-time job, but it is their priority. Since I was just down there working with them, I can tell you that they work hard towards qualifying, with study groups, scheduled classes, and a lot of extra evenings and weekends. And they still struggle to pass the boards. The Reserve gives us 36 months, but if you add up the days in uniform, it still comes to barely a quarter of the time, and almost none of it is spent standing watch or doing operations.

There is a few things I could propose that are helpful in getting ready. There is an Intel unit that drills with us, and they faced a similar problem. The JOs banded together and we started holding a class every drill weekend where we would cover a couple of sections and get signatures. We also set us VTCs with NIOC Georgia, where one of their active duty officers volunteered to lead a class, and then some designated person would sign the PQS on their behalf. They have managed to knock out signatures for most of the 100 and 200 sections of the Intel and IDWO books. If you have a population of IW officers, I would suggest setting up something similar. Also, your supported command should be able to set up training opportunities to prepare you for their board process. Contact your RSO and get in touch with the training officer for that command, and see what you can set up.

I don't have a great answer for the training that is required beyond that. I know taking 5-6 months out of their lives is not an easy option for most Reservists. You might be able to do ops time in 1-2 month intervals. My feedback after training is that new accessions to the community need to be told up front that after accepting a commission, that they will spend a year on active duty orders, going through DCO, IWBC, and time at a Big Four station, rotating between national, Navy, and DIRSUP shops to get the experience necessary to face the board. Folks like us, who are caught in the transition, just have to work out our own process. Good luck, and I hope this helps.
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