Navy Introduces New Robotics Warfare Specialist Rating

February 22, 2024 6:27 PM
A team from the Naval Research Laboratory visits Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti for a demonstration of the Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot “robo-dog,” at the Pentagon, Nov. 30, 2023. US Navy Photo

The Navy is looking to build up its workforce of sailors who can operate and support robotics via a new rating announced Thursday.

The Robotics Warfare Specialist, previewed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti during her keynote speech at WEST 2024 conference, cohosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA, was announced via NAVADMIN 036/24.

“The RW rating is a major milestone in our Navy’s relentless march to achieve a truly hybrid Fleet,” reads the NAVADMIN. “This dedicated robotics rating will accelerate development of deep expertise in rapidly advancing autonomous technologies.”

According to the accompanying fact sheets, the new rating will apply to active duty sailorsonly. The Navy plans on converting sailors who already work in robotics warfare billets and hold a robotics warfare classification, although sailors without it can still be screened for conversion. Those sailors might need additional service before they can convert.

The Navy will also be assigning the rating to new sailors, who will go through specific “A” schools for the rating. New sailors will go through electronic technician “A” school before going to a “C” school for robotics warfare. The Navy is planning to open up a specific robotics warfare “A” school by Fiscal Year 2026.

There will not be an officer designator within robotics warfare, according to the fact sheet.

“All Active Duty ratings are open for conversion to RW, but it is important to note that this will initially be a small and highly selective rating,” according to the NAVADMIN.

It is unclear how many sailors the Navy will assign as robotics warfare specialists. Manning will be determined by community requirements, according to the fact sheet.

Sailors within robotics warfare will have an initial sea tour of two years, followed by three years ashore and then a four-and-a-half-year second sea tour. Another three-year shore tour will follow.

Conversions will be accepted on a rolling basis, according to the NAVADMIN.

The first advancement exam for the robotics warfare specialist rating will start in fall 2024. Active duty E-5 and E-6 exams will happen in September 2024 with E-7 in January 2025, according to the fact sheet.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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