ARLINGTON, Va. -- Lt. Patricia "Trish" Elliston, USCG, is the first officer from another service to earn the U.S. Navy's Information Dominance Warfare Officer (IDWO) qualification.
Elliston, the Coast Guard Liaison Officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (DCNO) for Information Dominance (N2/N6) / Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) in the Pentagon, had her new warfare device pinned on her uniform in a ceremony held Tuesday, April 28. Her husband, retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Travis Elliston, pinned the device on her after receiving it from Navy Vice Adm. Ted N. Branch, DCNO/DNI.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Marshall Lytle, who serves as Acting Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, Assistant Commandant for C4IT, and Commander of the Coast Guard Cyber Command was also in attendance.
Elliston is a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1998 and spent eight years as a Cryptologic Technician. She earned a commission via the Coast Guard's Direct Commission Intelligence Officer program and was designated a Coast Guard Intelligence Officer in 2006.
She reported to the Navy's Information Dominance office in September of 2012 where she fosters communication between Navy and Coast Guard stakeholders in direct support of the Coast Guard and Navy National Fleet Plan, a plan signed by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Coast Guard Commandant. She also works to find ways for the Coast Guard and Navy to share intelligence and information supporting mutual homeland security and national defense missions. That sharing of intelligence increases operational effectiveness for both military organizations. She also facilitates routine meetings that allow the Coast Guard and Navy to discuss shared interoperable and compatible systems that enable the services to maintain interoperability, exchange data, information and intelligence.
"Due to my prior experience in the Navy, as soon as I had orders to OPNAV N2/N6, I began to think about how and if I could earn the IDWO qualification. It's been a goal since I reported," Elliston stated.
"It took me about 13 months from start to finish because I had to request a waiver to earn the qualification from the DCNO."
As part of her qualification process, she visited the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. to learn about the wide range of astronomical data and products the Observatory staff provide as well as learning how they serve as the official source of time for U.S. Department of Defense. They also provide a standard measurement of time for the entire United States.
She also had to learn how the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) community plays an important role in Information Dominance and how METOC impacts military operations... all areas well outside of her own area of expertise.
According to Navy instructions, formal designation as an IDWO signifies that the eligible officers have acquired specific knowledge, skills and experience, and have demonstrated proficiency at the professional level of competence required for satisfactory performance of assigned duties. The IDWO designation can only be obtained through the formal qualification program. Qualification recognizes the demonstrated expertise of the select group of officers who are trained in the information dominance fields. Officers working in the Information Dominance community must complete their community specific personnel qualification standard (PQS) or qualification requirement, IDWO PQS, and pass an oral board to earn the IDWO qualification.
"To achieve the Information Dominance Warfare qualification is not an easy process," noted Branch. "Approving the waiver to allow LT Elliston - as a U.S. Coast Guard officer - to complete the qualification simply made sense. I applaud any young officer, from any service, who is motivated enough to put the time and effort into achieving this designation."
Elliston stated, "The leadership in OPNAV N2/N6 has been remarkable, I would not have even considered earning the qualification had I not earned their support. My husband is a retired Navy chief who also worked in the Information Dominance Community. He knows more than anyone how much this qualification means to me and he encouraged me throughout this process."
Elliston is scheduled to transfer this summer (July 2015) to Coast Guard Sector Baltimore where her goal is to complete an operational tour and eventually return to the Coast Guard cyber community as a senior officer directing Coast Guard cyberspace operations.
"It's an honor and a privilege to earn this qualification because nine years ago when I transitioned from the Navy to the Coast Guard I never thought I'd have the opportunity to work with the Navy again," Elliston said. "Not only did I get that opportunity but I also got to be the first person in the Coast Guard to earn the IDWO qualification. This is a significant milestone in my career."
"I am honored to wear the IDWO pin!"