Becoming an Information Warfare Officer

Becoming an Information Warfare Officer

Postby Seth » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:02 pm

I am a Petty Officer First Class currently going through the Seaman to Admiral-21 Program selection process and this is my story.

My purpose is two-fold. First, to share my experiences so that others may take from it what they may. Second, to solicit your comments, criticism, and questions.

The intention is to present the events in chronological order. Generally, this is to begin with personal background information, then my first attempt, and concluding with an in depth discussion of the here and now.

03JUN08:

The dream of being a Naval Officer began innocently enough, as I watched the F-14s hurdled across the deck of an aircraft carrier in Top Gun. I wanted to be a part of something that stood for the principles I believed in, to somehow give back to all the people that had made a difference in my life, and to be one of the Navy's best fighter pilots "soaring across God's blue canopy". Though I prepared to be a college student with my studies, that calling never seemed to disappear. Thus, to this dismay of my friends and family, I announced my intention to join the Navy in the nuclear field as a submarine volunteer. Each of them tried, on several occasions, to persuade me otherwise with the joys of college and how that would be a more direct route to becoming a pilot. However, I was persistent and polite in my response. For me, there was no better time than the present to follow my dream and I had to experience the Navy first-hand before I could commit to being a leader. A great many things have occurred since that date and though all of it has taught me a great deal about our values and system, what it means to be a leader, and myself it is more biographical information that I will skip over at this time.

I want to become a Naval Officer because I see it as the next step in my commitment to the Navy and to the Sailors that have worked for me and with me. I want it because I can think of no other job more challenging personally and professionally. I look forward to having a guaranteed leadership role as I follow in the footsteps of those that have gone before me. It is a goal that I have had for some time, and I will continue to be persistent in my pursuit of it.

05JUN08:

Before I discuss my first package, I would like to touch on what I said yesterday. I discuss my background because I believe that this whole process starts with a choice. I think one should weigh their motives carefully before becoming an officer, because an officer should represent the principles on which our country was founded. Once the decision has been made, do not let anybody, but yourself, change that decision. There are several options to become an officer and, if that is where the heart is set, nothing can stop you...or at least there will be on hell of a good time trying.

My first Seaman to Admiral package was four years ago. I had been preparing the material and familiarizing myself with the instructions when the NAVADMIN was released. The next week it was posted in the plan of the week and I informed my chain of command of my intention to submit. I was surprised to find out that the package was due in just a few days. I turned in a completed package, not included interview sheets. My impression was that I shocked quite a few people.

I then began to prepare for my first interview, which ,I assumed, would be like the several Sailor of the Quarter Boards I had previously stood. I walked in having memorized the Oath of Office for an officer along with the Code of A Naval Officer, both found in Chapter One of The Naval Officer's Manual, and several other rather irrelevant pieces of information. None of my preparations helped me. It was not a test of what I knew, but a question of who I was and if I was right for the program. In spite of being ill prepared, I did well because I was myself; however, my package was not forwarded beyond that stage.

I took it hard, mainly because only one out of the three officers on my board would provide feedback that I had individually requested a few days after the interview. I had a large amount of respect for this officer because I had worked with him over the past year and was familiar with much of the work and change he had fought for during that period. What he said and how he said it still lingers, but the whole experience taught me a great deal about who I was as a person.

10JUN08:
As I did last update, before continuing I would like to summarize my previous comments. First, the key to preparing for this is to start now. For some, with a good amount of leadership experience and know how, the main hurdle is putting the package together. Read the OPNAVINST, current and past NAVADMINs, go through the last Fleet Brief, and reference the correspondence manual. In my experience there has always been someone willing to review and/or someone's accepted package to compare. Others may need to build some leadership experience. If you are looking for new perspective or to refine your skills, I found the Officer Leadership Development Guide via NKO to be a good starting point. Second, try to arrange a practice board or two. Finally, be persistent. It is easy to be discouraged and not apply again the following year. The decision can only be made by you.

This year started much like my last attempt. I had been slowly updating my package waiting for the NAVADMIN to be released or to hear about the command's time line in the Plan of the Week, which, do to an honest mistake of not being promptly informed, turned out to be a good thing because I had less than a week to submit. On the plus side this command did not need all the copies certified to be true copies, but did want all original copies of college transcripts re-sent and three copies made to be placed in binders and page-protectors. With the support of co-workers and family, I finished the package.

My first interview went very well. Honestly, I did not prepare for it as I did before. My goal was to be relaxed, confident, and most of all, me. The next week I followed up with three of the four officers on my board and each of them had very positive things to say, but one thing stood out: too stiff, professional, black and white. My assumption was that during an interview the point was to be relaxed, but proper. However, the underlining point was the need to be able to relate to people and I was most certainly able to bring those characteristics out in my latest interview.
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Postby webmaster » Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:39 pm

What has been your greatest challenge thus far in the process?
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Greatest Challenge

Postby Seth » Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:46 am

webmaster wrote:What has been your greatest challenge thus far in the process?


I have had many challenges during this process such as issues with administrative offices and lack of interview experience, but the greatest challenge I face is the one I face every day - me.
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Postby OmegaMan » Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:03 pm

Seth wrote:the greatest challenge I face is the one I face every day - me.


A bit of advice. If you want to be an officer, you need to display more confidence in yourself. Your subordinates will pick up on that quickly and they will also lose confidence in your leadership abilities.
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Postby jordan » Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:28 pm

Rupe wrote:A bit of advice. If you want to be an officer, you need to display more confidence in yourself. Your subordinates will pick up on that quickly and they will also lose confidence in your leadership abilities.


Good advice but I give you credit for being that honest
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Postby phrogpilot73 » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:33 pm

Rupe wrote:A bit of advice. If you want to be an officer, you need to display more confidence in yourself. Your subordinates will pick up on that quickly and they will also lose confidence in your leadership abilities.

I agree, but I get what he's saying. As I told a number of young Marines who asked me how I went from Enlisted to Officer, I told them. Then I would end it with that I realized that the only limits I had were those I had set for myself. Once I realized that, the sky was the limit. I guess my advice worked, because one of my Marines is currently in BOOST and enrolled at the University of Arizona.
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Postby OmegaMan » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:01 pm

I agree with the statements from the others in the forum, kudos for your honesty. And I suppose this is the best venue to do so, being relatively anonymous.

At the same time, I wanted to point out to you how it may come across. I talk from experience here. I was a direct accession ENS placed in a LDO dirsup shop, half of which were SWO's, and most of our enlisted were senior PO1's. I learned quickly that such statements are easily misinterpreted and taken for weakness. I just wanted to save you from that bit of JO training.

Aside from that, I like the idea of posting your trials and tribulations. It will be a great tool for your fellow Sailors!
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Postby Seth » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:32 pm

Seth wrote:I have had many challenges during this process such as issues with administrative offices and lack of interview experience, but the greatest challenge I face is the one I face every day - me.


Rupe wrote:A bit of advice. If you want to be an officer, you need to display more confidence in yourself. Your subordinates will pick up on that quickly and they will also lose confidence in your leadership abilities.


phrogpilot73 wrote:I agree, but I get what he's saying. As I told a number of young Marines who asked me how I went from Enlisted to Officer, I told them. Then I would end it with that I realized that the only limits I had were those I had set for myself. Once I realized that, the sky was the limit. I guess my advice worked, because one of my Marines is currently in BOOST and enrolled at the University of Arizona.


I certainly agree with you. There are many things that subordinates will pick up on that will erode their trust in a leader's abilities, lack of confidence being one. However, I would debate that acknowledging one's weaknesses does not display a lack of confidence, but rather the exact opposite. This process is simple and it is clearly written out and explained in the instruction. Interview skill are helpful, but what is truly necessary is being yourself, staying relaxed, and speaking honestly. Ultimately, on a personal level, the most challenging part of the STA-21 process is embracing a character of constant positive change, balance, and integrity and then sharing that with others.

Rupe wrote:I agree with the statements from the others in the forum, kudos for your honesty. And I suppose this is the best venue to do so, being relatively anonymous.

At the same time, I wanted to point out to you how it may come across. I talk from experience here. I was a direct accession ENS placed in a LDO dirsup shop, half of which were SWO's, and most of our enlisted were senior PO1's. I learned quickly that such statements are easily misinterpreted and taken for weakness. I just wanted to save you from that bit of JO training.

Aside from that, I like the idea of posting your trials and tribulations. It will be a great tool for your fellow Sailors!


In any presentation I find the real challenge is not presenting the information well, but ensuring the message is not misinterpreted. Thank you for the tip, and I look forward to others down the road.
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