Navy recruits know technology, but they're not IT experts

Despite familiarity with popular technologies, they still need training, SPAWAR commander says

The face of the modern sailor is one that is changing, as today’s young recruits arrive fluent in technology, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the demanding military training of previous generations.

“Having an ipad or iphone doesn’t make [young sailors] experts,” said Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. “They still need the training and rigor of operations.”

Still, the incoming sailors – digital natives who have grown up with the high-technology that’s defining the next generation – do bring to the service something different and valuable, Brady said Jan. 25 while speaking at the AFCEA West 2011 conference in San Diego.

“We’re starting with interns and recent grads, and they’re bringing new ideas and perspectives,” Brady said.

The employment of modern technology isn’t limited to what’s popular with today’s fresh-faced sailors. Brady said the Navy is experimenting with technology, including teaming with the Army and the 10th Fleet/Navy Cyber Command to explore possibilities in cloud computing.

Putting those new technologies to work, though, is still a function of acquisition – a process that is coming under increasing pressure in an era of budgetary scrutiny and tough efficiency measures across the broader Defense Department.

Brady said top considerations for acquiring and procuring new Navy technologies must include whether the new capabilities really bring something important and innovative to the table, are reliable and truly operational.

“Is this something the sailor can actually maintain, operate and understand?” Brady said. “If [the capability] fails in any of the three areas, it fails overall.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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