Life as an Ensign IWO

Postby Sparkplug » Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:44 pm

Sum1 wrote:I only partially agree with the above poster. The reasoning behind sending you to large NIOCs/RSOCs after IWBC is to expose you to as many facets of the IW job as possible. The reality of your situation is you will most likely end up working as a watch officer sooner or later, so getting that exposure now along with sea time is a good way to round you out early. I've spent a great deal of time in Hawaii as both an enlisted CT and an officer, and can tell you that our Ensigns, while we get a lot of them, all have relatively similar experiences. You will spend a little bit of time on the watch floor, most likely followed by DIRSUP time. If you're an able-bodied male (and "volunteer") you are most likely going sent subsurface. The females get sent to fulfill surface direct support requirements, if the platform can accept a female. We do have some males doing surface direct support, so it's still possible, but not probable.


Roger on your reasoning for assignment to one of the big NIOCs, but don't forget about Yokosuka, San Diego, Norfolk, and Misawa. Each of those also has a DIRSUP mission (and Ensigns assigned at the commands). Having served at both a small NIOC with a DIRSUP mission and one of the major centers, I can say that they both have their advantages. Either way, don't be a wall flower and pursue opportunities when ever possible.
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Postby Sum1 » Sat Dec 06, 2008 9:48 pm

Each have a DIRSUP mission, but it won't expose you to the national intelligence side that the big NSA sites will, and you won't be able to get the real watchfloor experience.

Overall, you get an opportunity to learn more things and get a more complete idea of the opportunities for IW officers as a first-term JO at a big NIOC/NSA site (read: Hawaii, Gordon, and to a lesser extent Texas).

With that said, I'm looking into DIRSUP stuff at one of the other places rather than a straight PCS afloat, too. Not sure what I'll do yet... both Yoko and Misawa are tempting.
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Postby Twidget » Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:27 pm

First of all, CONGRATS on your pro-rec!

yoshi wrote:In my opinion ..., avoid watch floors (they do nothing for you as a Naval officer and are so procedurally routinized that there is no value an the IW officer, those billets only exist because someone with culpability has to sit in that seat - it could be (and has been) filled by an idiot)


In my opinion, as some one who sat a watch position at Ft. Meade, and someone who considers themselves not an idiot, I think your opinion is severely generalized based on a very limited experience at one location. I got some amazing experience leading a team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and a Coast Guardsman, providing daily operational support and force protection to all services. I also learned so much about national processes and capabilities from the very senior and intelligent civilians with whom I served. I spent just under one year on watch. Some people spent over that, but no one was anywhere near 2 years from what I saw at Ft. Meade.

Anyway, I didn't get as broad an experience at Ft. Meade, not because I got sucked into a watch job, but because I was stuck waiting for my clearance for over 6 months. I was able to volunteer for a four-month deployment that was VERY good experience leading the SIGINT team in an interagency/interservice environment, something that many Navy officers on IA don't do in 12-14 month tours. I was only qualified to take that deployment after my watch rotation, so I knew how to fully integrate National SIGINT systems.

I wish I had been able to learn more about Navy operational SIGINT by doing a DIRSUP during first tour, but I know I'll get plenty of that doing PCS afloat next tour, and I certainly would not characterize my time on watch as having "no value".
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Postby Sparkplug » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:08 pm

Twidget wrote:First of all, CONGRATS on your pro-rec!



In my opinion, as some one who sat a watch position at Ft. Meade, and someone who considers themselves not an idiot, I think your opinion is severely generalized based on a very limited experience at one location. I got some amazing experience leading a team of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and a Coast Guardsman, providing daily operational support and force protection to all services. I also learned so much about national processes and capabilities from the very senior and intelligent civilians with whom I served. I spent just under one year on watch. Some people spent over that, but no one was anywhere near 2 years from what I saw at Ft. Meade.

Anyway, I didn't get as broad an experience at Ft. Meade, not because I got sucked into a watch job, but because I was stuck waiting for my clearance for over 6 months. I was able to volunteer for a four-month deployment that was VERY good experience leading the SIGINT team in an interagency/interservice environment, something that many Navy officers on IA don't do in 12-14 month tours. I was only qualified to take that deployment after my watch rotation, so I knew how to fully integrate National SIGINT systems.

I wish I had been able to learn more about Navy operational SIGINT by doing a DIRSUP during first tour, but I know I'll get plenty of that doing PCS afloat next tour, and I certainly would not characterize my time on watch as having "no value".


The standard watchstanding rotation for those who are assigned to the watch at Ft. Meade is between 12 and 18 months. After that, most JOs are either deployed or rotated to other jobs to help broaden their experience. While not all get the opportunities to do everything they would like during their tour, the CO is VERY involved in the placement of officers to help maximize their IWO growth. On another note, most of my JOs that were watchstanders found their time on the floor very educational and productive.
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Postby Sparkplug » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:22 pm

Sum1 wrote:Each have a DIRSUP mission, but it won't expose you to the national intelligence side that the big NSA sites will, and you won't be able to get the real watchfloor experience.

Overall, you get an opportunity to learn more things and get a more complete idea of the opportunities for IW officers as a first-term JO at a big NIOC/NSA site (read: Hawaii, Gordon, and to a lesser extent Texas).

With that said, I'm looking into DIRSUP stuff at one of the other places rather than a straight PCS afloat, too. Not sure what I'll do yet... both Yoko and Misawa are tempting.


I agree that there is a chance for exposure to a broader range of billets at the larger sites, however a good CO, XO, or mentor should be able to help you learn about what other opportunities are out there. Interactions with your leadership (and in some cases senior enlisted) help to flush out mission areas not necessarily assigned to a given command. I did my first tour at a small NSGA, followed by PCS afloat and PG school. When I was then assigned to Ft. Meade as a senior LT, I felt that I had a good understanding of what billets were available because I had early and frequent contact with senior members of the community.

On a second DIRSUP tour - I would advise against it. CW when I was negotiating for orders to my second tour was that JOs should only do one type of DIRSUP and then look for assignment to a ship, PG school, or a large site. Once you've punched the DIRSUP ticket, no matter what platform, you don't need to punch it again. Look for something that will include increased responsibility and more opportunities for leadership and professional growth.
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Postby Sum1 » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:58 pm

I only say a 2nd DIRSUP tour because at a place like NIOC Yoko the only difference between PCS afloat and DIRSUP is when your ship is in port you're sitting in an office building rather than on the ship. You're on board every time it gets underway and still have the opportunity to earn your warfare pin, etc, etc.

I've already spoken to the detailer, not only about PCS afloat but about the specific ship that I want (more than 2.5 years out already). He was more than happy to entertain the PCS afloat assignment that far in advance. Obviously, nothing is set in stone until much, much later, but for his purposes he said having people slotted for billets is a good thing. It's funny, but my plan is to basically do exactly what you did... finish this DIRSUP tour, hit the PCS afloat billet, and then push for PG school. After that I'd prefer an overseas assignment (PCS afloat would be in Pearl), but I would definitely cross that bridge when I got to it.
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Postby Jake Bebber » Tue Dec 09, 2008 2:46 am

concept03 wrote:Well, I did it! I found out yesterday that I have been pro-rec'd for Information Warfare. I can still hardly believe I've been (nearly) selected (still waiting on the official notice after the background check)

I'd like to know if anyone has some ideas as to what I could expect after OCS. I'm 27, married, and no children. What is life like for an O-1 IW officer? I'm curious primarily how long I should expect to not be able to see my wife. I have a good idea that I can expect at least one (very likely two) 6-month sea deployment, with run up work requiring 2 weeks away at a time.

Any thoughts or information you can provide is greatly appreciated!

I'm not far from where you are ... an ENS IWO. Just a word of advice - be prepared to be deployed immediately when you reach your first command after IWBC! I went straight from OCS (off the street, not prior enlisted) to IWBC to reporting to my first command (NIOC MD - Ft. Meade). (managed to squeeze in five weeks to finish my doctoral dissertation and graduate from grad school in between) Within a couple months of arriving at Meade and getting my clearance complete, I was deployed IA to Afghanistan for a year. (April 1 of 2007 I graduate OCS - April 1 of 2008, I'm sitting in Afghanistan ...)

At OCS and at IWBC, our instructors told us time and again that within the first couple of years of being a JO, we'd be heading to Iraq or Afghanistan. None of us believed it because we thought that we'd have to get our PQS qualification done first. Well, I'll be putting on JG in April and I'm just now starting my PQS since my first years in the Navy were spent in the Army! (or "Narmy" as you'll call it when you get deployed)

I'm not saying it WILL happen, but just be prepared (and have your family prepared) that it can happen.

This isn't to discourage you either. I had a blast while deployed! Heck, it's why I joined! But if you do get deployed, you'll have to start "relearning" your IW material when you return unless you're doing an IW job. I was an IO officer for a PRT (provincial reconstruction team) so I was doing some IW work, just not in a TS environment - more PSYOP, PAO, key leader engagements, public diplomacy support, etc.

Good luck at OCS!
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Postby ENSFINLEY » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:50 am

As small as our community is, there are so many different scenarios that come into play on what you?ll be doing during your first tour. It really all depends on where you get stationed and what billet you?re there to fill, and your XO. I?m a Direct Support Officer (DSO) here at Fort Gordon Georgia, but my experience is totally different from that of a DSO from Texas or Hawaii. My advice is to just have fun with OCS, IWBC, and enjoy being the JORG at your first command.
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FUN!

Postby jitter » Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:22 pm

Ha! There will be no fun in IWBC! Just long hours strapped to a chair while we pump knowledge into your head with a fire hose. :eek:

But OCS is a blast, bring your party hat and make sure to call your Gunny funny names, they like that and if you can make sure you get caught with some sort of contraband, it makes for an interesting day. :rolleyes:

:mad: <-- My Gunny every single day.
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Postby gtwhitegold » Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:38 pm

Has anyone successfully earned their dolphins as DIRSUP, or is that solely reserved for LDOs and Nukes or other permanent party?
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