The first three officers in the Navy’s newest officer designation 1880, Maritime Cyber Warfare Officer (MCWO), started training in Computer Network Operator Qualification Course (CNOQC), which is being taught for the first time at Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station

The new MCWOs will join with enlisted Sailors in CNOQC to receive basic level training for offensive cyber operations provided to Interactive On-Net (ION) operators, as the first step toward creating Maritime Cyber Warfare Officers with on-keyboard skills.

“Having folks that are extremely skilled in cyber is more critical now than ever before,” Cmdr. Gil Baughn, cyber program manager for the Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT). “The control of information has always played a role in war. But with the speed that everything travels now, the complexity of networks, and how infrastructure operates, and how critical infrastructure is, everything depends on that interconnectivity across the internet.”

“Our defensive side protects our infrastructure and denies the enemy access to it,” said Baughn. “However, to our adversaries that same infrastructure is important for them to protect, and we need to have people on our offensive teams that can go in, target, and exploit vulnerabilities in their systems.”

As the Navy’s cyber training provider, CIWT’s goal is the create Sailors and joint service members in the officer and enlisted ranks who excel in providing those cyber capabilities.

“The Navy is committed to meeting current and future cyber capability requirements. Naval Information Forces and key leaders in IW domain closely examined the IW construct and determined it did not adequately support multiple tours in the cyber mission area,” said Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces. “Creation of the MCWO designator creates a career path for those officers to specialize in the cyber mission and develop their unique and critical skillset.”

The MCWOs attending CNOQC are anticipated to graduate from the course in Jan. 2024.

New officer accessions into the MCWO designator will be filled through a re-designation opportunity, which will likely be offered at first only to Information Warfare officers in all paygrades, with the first selection panel to held in late 2023.