Del Toro dubs robotics specialists next step in ‘truly hybrid’ fleet

by Vern Evans

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Creating a new robotics warfare specialist rating signified a critical step in achieving a “truly hybrid” fleet, the Navy’s top civilian said Tuesday.

“We continue to adopt the identities of our people in uniform to match the changing character of war,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference. “This year, CNO Franchetti introduced the robotics warfare specialist, or RW rating, into the fleet. RW’s will be the subject matter experts for computer vision, mission autonomy, navigation autonomy, data systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

“The establishment of the robotic rating is a significant milestone in our journey towards achieving a truly hybrid fleet,” he added. “And the state of the world today highlights the importance of building a culture of warfighting excellence through integrated training environments.”

The Navy unveiled the robotics warfare specialist rating in February, which will involve operating and maintaining active and passive payload systems and sensors.

The Navy described the rating as a “major milestone” for the service, one that has been in the works for more than three years. Establishment of the rating means the Navy is the first branch of the military to create a specific enlisted workforce that oversees unmanned and autonomous technology, according to the service.

Those converting to the new rating will primarily come from those assigned to billets in unmanned vehicle divisions, as well as those with applicable Navy enlisted classification codes, according to the service.

Master Chief Christopher Rambert became the first robotics warfare specialist in February.

Active duty sailors between the ranks of E-4 and E-9 may submit a request to convert. Commands will coordinate with their superior command and enlisted community manager so they can apply.

The Navy-wide robotics warfare advancement exam will launch in September for E-5 and E-6 sailors, while higher ranks will complete the exam and screening board in 2025.

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