VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course (NIOBC) and Information Professional Basic Course (IPBC), 20-week accession-level courses taught at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach for students learning to become naval intelligence and information professional officers, have recently incorporated a sponsorship program which brings senior information warfare (IW) officers from the fleet in to serve as mentors. An idea that came to fruition in late 2022 has now become a staple at IWTC Virginia Beach for eager and inquisitive prospective IW officers.
Each NIOBC and IPBC class is paired with a different fleet command, and the sponsor from that command (typically the senior intelligence or information professional officer), acts as the mentor for that class during their time in the school house.
The goal of the sponsorship program is for that senior IW officer to impart some of the knowledge and wisdom gained through their experience to the students prior to them joining the fleet. The engagements between mentor and mentees usually consists of question and answer sessions where the students ask questions on IW related subjects, or general Navy related subjects such as how to prepare for a deployment, which are the most sought after billets, or things they can do to become the best naval officer possible. These engagements occur approximately every five weeks during the course and culminate with the mentor speaking during the combined graduation ceremony.
IWTC Virginia Beach strives to provide the students with a variety of different commands to act as sponsors. Thus far, three iterations of both courses have graduated with a sponsor command and seven classes will have completed the course by the end of calendar year 2023 with a sponsor. Sponsor commands have included the Office of Naval Intelligence, United States Fleet Forces, Carrier Strike Group 2, and Amphibious Squadron 4 (PHIBRON 4), with Naval Special Warfare Development Group scheduled to mentor the classes that begin in July.
This month, Lt. Cmdr. William Mallory, the senior intelligence officer for PHIBRON 4, spoke with NIOBC class 23040 during their Threat 101 block of instruction. The class wasted no time and began peppering the Mallory with questions about the fleet and his time in the service. He spoke at length about work-up cycles in the amphibious community, maintaining professionalism during deployment, integrating the greater information warfare community in his intelligence work at PHIBRON 4, and how best to prepare his intelligence team for deployment. Mallory implored the students to approach each day when preparing for deployment as if you had already begun, and that “mimicking deployment [on a daily basis] is now [his] top priority.”
The conversation ultimately shifted to focusing on the best strategies for making a difference in the fleet as an intelligence officer. Mallory challenged the students to “relentlessly pursue the truth by any means possible” during their first tours in the fleet, and told the students that operational intelligence is the community’s bread and butter.
The students are learning about a variety of threat platforms during their current block of NIOBC. Upon reaching the operational intelligence block of instruction at the end of the course, Mallory’s words will hopefully start to gather meaning to the students, as he noted that as intelligence officers we will track “any asset under the water, on the water, or in the air; that’s our job.”
IWTC Virginia Beach currently offers 74 courses of instruction in information technology, cryptology, and intelligence with an instructor and support staff of over 300 military, civilian, and contract members who train more than 7,000 students yearly at five training sites. It is one of four schoolhouses for the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) and also oversees learning sites at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Jacksonville and Mayport, Fla; Kings Bay, Ga.; and Groton, Conn.