Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finally IDW!!

After 5ish months, I am finally PO2(IDW)!!!!

EIDWS (Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist) pin on DCUs (desert cami uniform).
EIDWS is one of the searches that gets my blog enough hits for me to consider them significant.  That and the myspace turd girl, which almost makes me want to remove that picture, but it was an integral part of that post, so it survived.. for now.  I still can't believe there is still so much interest in that photo.

Let's talk about my EIDWS process.

I technically started the EIDWS program in March, or at least that's when I routed the chit, because that was the month after the program was finalized at NAVCENT and they started doing training briefs, which meant that the program was actually available.  I didn't get to start going to the training until April/May because I was on nights.

Once I started going, I got lucky enough that it was at the same time they decided to do Saturday briefs, which was many sections all at once, which was how I was able to get my signatures so quickly.  Since no one really had had the pin yet, going to the briefs was the easiest way to get the signatures.  For the different shop sections you could go and get qualifiers to sign, but it was much easier to just go to the briefs, get the signature, and call it a day vs finding time in your schedule and theirs to meet one on one.

Now that more people have their pin, they can sign off for the common core, and you can still go to briefs/to qualifiers to get 200 section signatures, which makes things a little easier, and at a more personal pace for those super motivated/unmotivated.  I was pretty motivated once I got started.  I got all my sigs in under 2 months.  I tested at the beginning of July.  Then I went on leave.

Then I took a 1.5 month break.  Yeah, its the truth, I won't deny it.  The reason?  I slept better at night not worrying about IDW.  I wasn't constantly stressed about it.  It was delightful.  I was very hesitant to get back to the grind because I liked the weight of IDW not being on my shoulders.

I didn't need these for too much of the IDW process,
but I think I will remember this idea for later.  (image)
So the day came when someone asked me, Have you boarded yet?
Me: nope.
Them: Why?
Me: Because I enjoy sleeping.
Them (confused): Do you want to board?
Me: When?
Them: Soon.
Me: Sure.

He was leaving soon, so he wanted to get this knocked out before he left, which was a smart idea, in my opinion.  He had another guy that was interested in boarding with him, so we sent an email to the Senior Chief who arranges the boards and requested that we all be able to board together since they do the boards in groups of 3.  Despite having heard there was a fairly long wait to get a board, we had a date within 2 weeks, so I was impressed.  Then it was time to get down to business.

SOOOO many flashcards!
I used at least 5 packs of index cards.
After spending the end of July and most of August telling Teh Bear I was going to/needed to study, the fire under my ass was lit.  Board time was coming.  The 3 of us got together a few times and studied.  I had made flashcards for every line item in the book, and the amount of flashcards was overwhelming, but writing all of them helped me, since writing something down is the primary way I learn.  We also had Teh HP Wizard's flashcards, which were extremely helpful.

I also arranged for a PO1 to do a murder board for us.  For my non-Navy/military readers, that is like a pretend board.  The person(s) doing your murder board asks line item questions to test what we (the boardees) know.  It helps people who are going up for board to see what they need to study, see what they don't know at all, and have practice at boarding, because a lot of going up for a board and answering someone's questions is about confidence.

We had an awesome 2 part murder board.  It was long and tedious, but sooooooo worth it.  Many many thanks to the PO1 that helped us out by taking the time out of his days to help us.  He drilled us for 2 hours on the first day and then 2.5 hours on the second day.  We covered almost every item in the book.  We walked away with 1 day left till our board and we decided to come in that day and strengthen up on the things we weren't so good at (instructions and people in charge of things, like OPSEC-O, SSO, Information Assurance Manager/Officer (who aren't the same), etc).  We weren't going into our board knowing everything but as much as we could know.

We had a Senior Chief and 2 Chiefs on our board.  One Chief was actually my departmental Chief, and having went through the program, we were familiar with the other Chief and the Senior Chief.  They each took turns asking us their different sections.  My Chief covered the beginning of the 200s section (C5F/NAVCENT history) and most of the common core.  Senior Chief covered the mid 200 section (EW/IO stuff) and some random common core that applied to his sections.  The other Chief covered the end of the 200 section (technical/network/messaging stuff) and the random common core that applied to his sections.

Unrelated break time (you're welcome):

We each missed questions, which we knew was going to happen.  As it happens, most of the questions we had to do look-ups on, out of the 3 of us, someone knew the answer, which I think was part of what made us a solid group.  After about an hour worth of being questioned, which honestly didn't seem like that long, thank God, they kicked us out for a few minutes, then told us all to come back in.  We were told we didn't do great, but we didn't do the worst.  I was completely satisfied with that.  Then they congratulated us on making PO2(IDW)'s (we, the boardees, we are all 2nd classes).  Along with all being PO2, we were all pinless until now, which makes it even more exciting for the 3 of us.

The most painful part of the process was the parts that I made painful, mostly with the procrastination problem I had going on.  Had Teh Bear not been coming to Bahrain and I didn't take leave in July, I probably would have gotten my pin with Teh HP Wizard or Teh Lumberjack.  After my test in early July I was ready to board.  I had that motivation turned on high.  I was ready.  Then I went on leave and definitely got comfortable not having to worry with IDW.

I lied, the 2nd most painful part is waiting for the paperwork to be signed so I can actually sign my name w/ IDW and actually getting to wear the pin.  The shittiest part is that despite our board being on September 6th, the 2 of us who aren't leaving next week prob won't get it "awarded" to us until the awards ceremony at the end of the month..  Which I think is crappy on principle.  I earned it, I want to wear it.  I'm trying not to bitch too much about it, because the process is over now, and its just a matter of waiting...  But anyone that knows me knows that patience definitely isn't my virtue... ever.

Despite not being able to wear it or sign my name with my designator, every now and then someone calls me PO2(IDW) and I smile really big because thats freakin' awesome.  The program started in late March and within 6 months, I was qualled.  That makes me pretty proud of me.

If you already have a different warfare pin and are trying for the IDW, it should be fairly easy since the common core is the same from other warfare qualifications.  If you aren't a rate that falls within the IDW community trying to get the pin, it will probably be a little more difficult.  Because we boardees all do the same job, they had to leave out a significant portion of the 200 section because they knew we knew that stuff (and if we didn't, wellllll.... we won't talk about that).  When my Chief asked us a question that pertained to my job, I felt like I was showing off because I knew the answer.  I really wanted some network questions so I could really show off, but it was probably for the best the other Chief didn't really go into that stuff since the other 2 guys weren't quite as nerdy as I am.

As for being pinless.. till now, this is the first opportunity I've had to get a pin.  That's the plight of the job I do.  Most of us are now being sent to shore commands till a ship deploys, then we get sent to the ship as a rider, where you can then get the SW/AW (depending on the ship) quals.  And if you're only going on a short deployment, you may not actually have the time to complete the program.  I do know of some folks who get sent to shore commands that deploy to AF/Iraq who are able to get their EXW (expeditionary warfare qualification).

When I got to GTMO I asked the Master Chief if there were warfare qualifications I could get.  He said no.  I was pretty disappointed since GTMO would have been considered an expeditionary command, and that's a pretty badass qualification.  Since I'm going to a squadron next, I've already inquired about getting my air warfare qual.  I figure since I'll be there for 3 years it shouldn't be an issue to get the pin, since I'm assigned to the squadron.  I was pinless for almost 3 years though, so if I wasn't able to get it (which I might be a little upset about) I'd still be satisfied with my IDW pin.

-Don't take leave in the middle of the process.
-Find people to study with.
-Do whatever you need to do to learn the information.  Whether that is reading over the manuals/briefs/writing 5 packs of flashcards w/ crayola markers.
-Don't let the process overwhelm/stress you out (especially if you're easily overwhelmed/stressed (like me)), its just like any other test/qualification you've ever done.  If you know it, you know it.  If you don't know it, learn it.
-Don't expect to know everything.  While the board would be super impressed if you were that genius that knew everything, that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself.
-Be confident in what you know and don't over think the questions.


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