VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Midshipmen at the U. S. Naval Academy spend their summers a bit differently than the average college student in the United States. Instead of summer vacations, time at the beach, or private internships, midshipmen take part in an annual summer cruise that better prepares them for their futures in the fleet by tangibly introducing them to military commands across a wide variety of designators and missions.
The overall purpose of the summer cruise is to teach the prospective military officers about life at sea, the responsibilities of a junior officer, and different operations within the Navy and Marine Corps. Summer cruises are organized by year ranging from plebe summer, before students begin at the academy, to first class summer as students prepare for their final year in Annapolis.
Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach is helping to play a role in the Naval Academy’s 2023 first class summer cruise by hosting 18 midshipmen at the schoolhouse. Nine midshipmen visited the schoolhouse in June, and on a second group of nine visited in July. Each group got a chance to broaden their understanding of the information warfare (IW) domain while there. A third group of nine midshipmen is scheduled to visit the command in early August before their school year commences.
The midshipmen who visited the schoolhouse in July received a tour of the command, observed IW students in a learning environment, and got a chance to speak with a plethora of IW officers.
To begin their visit, the midshipmen observed Intelligence Specialists (IS) presenting their final briefs during their accession-level training. This last evolution in the IS’s training is an operational intelligence heavy brief. It is presented in a tense environment where the instructors ask a multitude of questions to ensure future ISs are knowledgeable, professional, and prepared for the fleet. Allowing the midshipmen to witness this brief demonstrated to them the level of professionalism and expertise required to operate in the IW domain, should they choose that path during their final year at the academy.
At the conclusion of the brief, the midshipmen were introduced to Capt. Andrew Boyden from Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Boyden, a former commanding officer of IWTC Virginia Beach, spoke at length about the demands and responsibilities of an intelligence officer. He also shared sea stories from throughout his career, and answered questions from the group. Boyden impressed upon the students that during a career in the IW community any individual can be called upon to brief a decision maker prior to an important mission, harkening back to when he witnessed an Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class flawlessly brief the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Lt. Cdr. Joseph Jones, executive officer of IWTC Virginia Beach, introduced himself to the midshipmen, after Boyden finished answering questions, and continued the trend of discussing what it means to be an officer in the IW community.
Jones, an Information Professional Officer, was able to explain the differences between the officer designators in the IW community to the midshipmen. The group concluded their visit to the schoolhouse with a question and answer session with three intelligence officers, and a meteorological and oceanographic officer during a round table discussion. The topics for the discussion ranged from leadership styles, to the pros and cons of being a department head, to historical book choices.
IWTCVB 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 over 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.
With four schoolhouse commands, two detachments, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 26,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. Center for Information Warfare Training also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.