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Professional Knowledge: Information Warfare and Restricted Line Communities

professional knowledge Jan 18, 2020

Alright, it’s finally here… the week you all have been waiting for… Week 11 of Pro-Know at the Naval Academy… the week where professional knowledge covers the best warfare community in the United States Navy. 

Are you ready to learn a little bit about the Information Warfare Community (IWC)?!

   Everyone: Sweet pin, dude. That’s definitely the coolest pin of all the warfare communities. 

   Me: Thanks!

If you are not aware, this chapter is a little extra special to me because back in 2017 I became a member of the Information Warfare community, commissioning as a Cryptologic Warfare officer, which you will soon learn a little bit more about!


The Information Warfare Community, formerly known as the Information Dominance Corps, has become more and more relevant as Information is being used as a warfighting discipline, and cyberspace is being used as a warfighting domain.  With a mission to know and understand our adversaries and the battlespace, maintain command and control (C2) of forces at all times, and project power in and through cyberspace, the IWC prides itself on these three warfighting pillars:

  1. Battlespace Awareness - KNOW the enemy and the environment inside and out!
  2. Assured C2 - Assure secure and reliable communications at all times.
  3. Integrated Fires - Use information to deny, degrade, disrupt, and manipulate our adversaries and their capabilities.

The Information Warfare Community is an overarching community of specialty communities that focus on all of the different aspects of these warfighting pillars.  The IWC is broken up into the following officer designators (as presented with a bias from a Cryptologic Officer): 

Cryptologic Warfare (CW) Officers (obviously listed first, because we are #1).  In Navy lingo, we say that we provide our commanders with the “integrated fires” capability by using “kinetic and non-kinetic” means of achieving military objectives.  We do this through three main ways:

  • Cyberspace Operations.  Yes, if you want to conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations, you should look into the Cryptologic Warfare Community.  CW Officers lead different components and teams within the United States Cyber Mission Force - National Mission Teams (NMTs), Combat Mission Teams (CMTs), and Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs).
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)The collection and analysis of adversary’s communication, radar, and weapon system signals.  
  • Electronic Warfare (EW)Using the Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum to provide Indications and Warnings (I&W) to fleet units, deny/degrade/disrupt the adversary’s use of the EM spectrum, and protect our own use of the EM spectrum.

CW officers lead the tremendously talented and intelligent Cryptologic Technicians (CT) rate.  There are 5 different “flavors” of CTs:

  • CTI - Linguists. They study and become proficient in one of the big six languages - Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian-Farsi, Spanish, & Russian.  There are also many less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) that CTIs can study.
  • CTM - Maintenance Technicians.  They take care of and install cryptologic gear and make sure it works while out to sea!
  • CTN - Cyber people.  Conduct both offensive and defensive cyber operations.
  • CTR - Signals operators.  Exploit and analyze signals of interest in all different domains of warfare.
  • CTT - Radar specialists.  Focus on Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and Electronic Support (ES).


But the best part of being a CW officer?? CW officers are extremely operational and support all different fleet units.  Despite being restricted line officers, CW officers support subsurface, surface, air, and ground deployments (including SEAL teams) on an extremely frequent basis!

Information Professionals (IP)

  • Information Professionals (IP).  I like to affectionately refer to these officers as the people that get yelled at when the Admiral’s email isn’t working.  But in all seriousness, IPs operate, maintain, and secure all of the different afloat networks that the Navy uses to communicate, at the Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret levels.  IP officers are CRITICAL to the operational effectiveness of our fleet by providing that Assured C2, one of the main warfighting pillars of the IWC. IPs lead Sailors in the Information Systems Technician (IT) enlisted rate.

METOC.  Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC)

METOC.  Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) Officers… A.K.A. the weather people.  They provide actionable and tactical information about weather, climate, and even the space environment.  The METOC community provides direct support to Naval units through their Undersea Warfare Directorate, Expeditionary Warfare Directorate, Weather Services Directorate, and Precise Time and Astrometry Directorate.  

In tandem with their enlisted rate, the Aerographer’s Mate (AG), METOCs collect, measure, and analyze elements of the operating environment in support of Naval Operations.  They provide support to Anti-Submarine and Mine Warfare, Fleet Operations afloat, and Naval Special Warfare. METOC deploys with SEAL teams commonly in support of ground objectives.  This is a major component of our IWC pillar of Battlespace Awareness.

Intelligence Officers

  •  Intelligence Officers.  They may call themselves fusion analysts and experts on the capabilities, intentions, and vulnerabilities of our adversaries, but I like to call them Powerpoint specialists.  But in all actuality, while they do create and present tons of briefs, everything Intelligence Officers, and their enlisted Intelligence Specialists (IS), do is massively important to the Battlespace Awareness of our Naval forces.  Intelligence officers KNOW the adversary from start to finish and while they operate at the tactical level, they are very strategic level thinkers. This is a very cool community that does tons of awesome stuff.

    In the intelligence community, we have lots of different intelligence Sources:
  • Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT)
  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT)
  • Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT)
  • Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)

What’s awesome about Intelligence Officers is that, while they may partake in some of the gathering and execution of these intelligence sources, they more likely take the information gathered by other entities, analyze it, assess the context of the situation, and then turn information into intelligence.  They are fusion analysts who combine and multiple forms of information into relevant intelligence products that support our warfighters.  


So that’s the Information Warfare Community.  The collective efforts of Information Professionals, Cryptologic Warfare officers, METOC officers, and Intelligence officers to provide the Fleet with Battlespace Awareness, Assured C2, and Integrated Fires. 

BUT, the chapter isn’t done there.  Because in this tremendously long week of professional knowledge, the plebes will also learn about restricted line communities, staff corps communities, and the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) and Chief Warrant Officer programs.

Limited Duty Officer (LDO) and Chief Warrant Officers

When I reference Restricted Line (RL) communities, the navy uses that term to reference all of the highly specialized, technical services that directly support the missions of Naval Operations.  While RL and Unrestricted Line (URL) officers wear the same rank and insignia, the main difference between a RL and an Unrestricted Line (URL) community, is that RL officers cannot hold command at sea.  Therefore your URL communities are SWOs, Submarines, Pilots, NFOs, SEALs, and EOD.  

In addition to the restricted line, there are staff corps communities which provide services for Naval units.  The five staff corps communities are: Medical, Supply, Civil Engineer, Judge Advocate General, and Chaplain. Each of these communities have a unique insignia worn on their uniforms to represent the staff corps community to which they belong.

The last segment is all about LDOs and Warrants.  This was a weird chapter for me at the Naval Academy, because there is not a presence of LDOs and Warrants at the Naval Academy.  They are truly few and far between, so when midshipmen get out to the fleet it’s like seeing a unicorn. But having now done Navy things for a little bit, the LDOs and Warrants are AMAZING.  These prior enlisted service members are not only technical experts, but they are phenomenal role models and mentors for Junior Officers heading out to the fleet. I have been blessed with amazing LDOs and Warrants that I have gotten to learn from, and am extremely grateful for their presence in my Naval career.  So this introduction to LDOs and Warrants are great for the plebes to learn and will benefit them tremendously in their career!

Yes you may notice there is no CWO1 rank, as has been historically true.  They range from CWO2 to CWO5. However, with the introduction of the Cyber Warrant program, CWO1 is now an active rank in the Navy.

There’s tons and tons of information in this chapter, but it is extremely important information to understand how restricted line communities support the Navy’s mission!  Best of luck to the plebes on the exam, and if anyone has questions about the IWC, you should definitely email [email protected] and I will answer the questions you have!

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