KBAR: Naval Special Warfare's Edge on
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Menzie Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Special Warfare Sailors around the world will be receiving an early Christmas present to help them prepare for the next advancement exam thanks to a new leap in technology.
Special warfare operators (SO) and special warfare boat operators (SB) received personal digital assistants (PDA) last week. The distribution of the PDA's are part of a new knowledge based academic resource program (KBAR), developed by the Naval Special Warfare Center for SEAL and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC).
The program, which is the first of its kind in the Navy, is meant to help SEALs and SWCC manage their careers and study for advancement despite rigorous training schedules, extended deployments and hostile conditions.
"It's our job to develop special warfare operators," said Capt. Thomas S. Carlson, commanding officer, Naval Special Warfare Center for SEAL and SWCC. "The PDA will help make it easier for our guys to be competitive and get time to study."
The KBAR program was developed by the Center for SEAL and SWCC after the SO and SB ratings were created in October 2006. Currently, study material is accessed by SEAL and SWCC operators online. The PDA will compliment the online study material, especially for operators in the field and those who don't have immediate access to computers.
"Having the PDA gives our guys immediate access to online material that our guys would spend hours looking for," said Lt. Oscar W. Simmons, command information officer, NSW Center for SEAL and SWCC. "By having the PDA, our guys have immediate access to study material and career management tools."
Prior to the KBAR program, the center had developed an online portal for Sailors to access study material from an online database. The portal helped Sailors reduce countless hours searching for study material however, it didn't help those who didn't have access to computers or those operating in the field. To remedy this problem, the center developed KBAR.
Starting with 35 personal digital assistants to use as a test platform, the Center selected 60 members of the SEAL and SWCC community to test the PDA and provide feedback after three months. After several months of testing and positive feedback coming back from the field, the Center went forward with KBAR to provide a PDA to all naval special warfare Sailors studying for advancement.
"I was promoted to chief using this device to study," said Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator (SWCC) Michael Palmer, who was one of the PDA testers. "When I got to use it, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread."
In August 2007, the Center purchased 898 PDAs to distribute throughout the community.
"I had problems finding study materials online," said Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Tim Wood, PDA tester. "Having the Center for SEAL and SWCC centralize the information and put it on a file onto my digital assistant was huge. I could plug it into my laptop and study whenever I wanted to."
The current PDAs being distributed are an upgrade to the original PDAs tested. The updated models come with wi-fi internet capability, Bluetooth capability, USB access, and a camera that allows operators to videoconference from around the world. It also allows Sailors to log on to Navy Knowledge Online, check their My Pay accounts, and view their email.
"What a better way to start a SEAL or SWCC operator in the right direction than to give them a tool that helps their career development," Carlson said.
Carlson believes KBAR will be a model for the rest of the Navy to follow and believes that all Sailors will one day be given a PDA.
"I personally think the Navy is going to like this idea. It's going to work well, and become cheaper as time goes on," Carlson said. "I think as people in the Navy take a look at this program, they are going to want it. Even if they don't want the device itself, the fact that we have stayed electronic in our rating manual is something people are going to gravitate toward."
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