Attacking and exploiting communications networks Information Warfare

Conducting psychological operations. Managing the application of cryptography and cryptanalysis. Advising decision makers from the tactical level to the national level. Those leading information warfare efforts help ensure that we capitalize on the information vulnerabilities of our enemies.


Video: Navy Reserve - LT Commander Eric Pihl

Reserve LT Commander Eric Pihl, Officer in Charge of Naval Special Warfare’s Mission Support Center. One of the big benefits about the Navy Reserve is the places you go. You go up to Iceland, go down to ah, ah South America, the Caribbean, go out to Hawaii, Japan, a lot of cool …

File Size:
24.4 MB
U.S. Navy

Job Description

Executing the full spectrum of cyber, cryptology and signals intelligence; information operations; computer network operations; and electronic warfare missions across the cyber, electromagnetic and space domains, Information Warfare Officers (IWOs) play a vital role. Their mission: to deter and defeat aggression, to provide warning of intent, and to ensure freedom of action while achieving military objectives in and through cyberspace.

Serving as Officers (four-year degree required), IWOs are leaders in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) – a group of highly specialized information experts fully integrated across surface, subsurface, air, space and cyberspace domains. With shared functions, capabilities and resources, IDC members leverage their skills to optimize decision making and to maximize the use of sensors, weapons, network communications and control systems for purposes of national security and warfighting.

Serving part-time as a Reservist, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Reservists. And know this: The impact of your work and your service will go far beyond the time that you put in.

Specific Responsibilities

Information Warfare Officers are directly involved in every aspect of Naval operations – delivering information to decision makers by attacking, defending and exploiting networks to capitalize on vulnerabilities in the information domain. As an IWO, you will employ a thorough understanding of sensors and weapons, strategy and tactics, as well as national systems’ capabilities and limitations. This role may include:

  • Qualifying as an Operations Watch Officer, responsible for real-time signal intelligence collection, processing, analysis and reporting
  • Conducting computer network operations
  • Developing and acquiring cutting-edge exploitation and defense systems
  • Planning and delivering information warfare effects during exercises and operations
  • Leading Information Dominance personnel across the spectrum of military operations
  • Overseeing the work of Cryptologic Technicians – Enlisted Sailors (no degree required) who serve as specialists in different areas of cryptology 


Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.

Individuals in the field of Information Warfare in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must be met.

For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): Prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement – so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: You will need to meet the initial leadership training requirement by attending the 12-day Direct Commission Officer (DCO) School in Newport, R.I. This will count as your first Annual Training.

The Information Warfare field is a highly competitive area offering advanced expertise and highly sought-after security clearance. You’ll be trained in the Navy Security Group to operate and maintain specialized electronic equipment, such as radio receivers, antennae, recorders and computers. Annual Training assignments may be at Naval Security Group sites in this country or overseas.

Career Advantages

In the course of service, specialized training received could lead to credentialing, certification and/or licensure opportunities from a number of national boards and organizations – allowing you to become even more competitive in your challenging field.

Plus, the expertise you gain as an Information Warfare Officer, coupled with your security clearance, may prepare you for a wide range of job opportunities available within the U.S. Intelligence Community, including future employment with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or National Security Agency (NSA).

Other career opportunities in the civilian sector include work as Computer and Information Systems Managers, Computer Systems Analysts, Database Administrators, Management Analysts, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators.

And the more tangible benefits? Competitive pay. Points earned toward retirement benefits. Outstanding insurance options. And much more. Read about the benefits of serving in the Navy Reserve.

Education Opportunities

Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Information Warfare Officers can advance their education through the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Navy (SOCNAV) Degree Program, by pursuing opportunities at institutions such as Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) or Navy War College (NWC) and by completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) at one of the various service colleges.


A four-year degree is required to work as an Information Warfare Officer. Candidates seeking an Officer position in this community must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a technical field, preferably in areas of study related to math, computer science and engineering.

All candidates must also be U.S. citizens willing to serve worldwide and eligible for a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) security clearance.

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

More Information

Want to explore further? Learn what you need to know about joining the Navy Reserve. Find us on Facebook to interact with actual Navy Reservists. Or, if you need more information, contact a Navy Reserve Recruiter.

Consider Your Service Options.

There are different ways that you can commit to serve in America’s Navy. Besides part-time opportunities in the Navy Reserve, full-time Active Duty positions are also available in this career area.