Created to recognize the essential contributions to the success of Naval Aviation made by Sailors who were not members of aircrews, the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) Qualification program and insignia were established in March, 1980 by OPNAVINST 1412.5. February, 1992 saw the qualification undergo a fairly important change when it was announced in OPNAVINST 1412.5C that E3 Sailors would be permitted to take part in the program. (Both E3s and E4s were required to have an overall performance mark of at least 3.6 and no individual mark of less than 3.4.) The EAWS program was not restricted to ratings associated with Naval Aviation, but Sailors who wished to participate were strongly encouraged to become warfare-qualified in an area that was suited to their ratings.

More changes came to the EAWS qualification standards in August, 10 1998 with the issuance of OPNAVINST 1414.2A.  Sailors assigned to sea duty in a Type 2 or 4 command were eligible for qualification if those command had an EAWS program (or if the CO of OIC enrolled candidates in an EAWS program hosted by another Type 2 or 4 activity involving the same type of unit). Eligible commands included all deployable aviation squadrons and their associated detachments, aviation-capable ships (specifically hull types CN, CVN, LPH, LHA, LHD, and MCS), aviation staffs and other detachment personnel (SEAL, EOD, and so forth) who are deploying for at least 180 days aboard an aviation-capable ship (they were required to take part in the EAWS program hosted on the ship on which they were deployed, however).

The EAWS qualification standards set forth in OPNAVINST 1412.2A were extremely challenging, with completion of a multitude of Personnel Qualification Standards directly related to the applicant’s associated watchstations, a lengthy common-core program in NAVEDTRA 43902, completion of courses in Aviation Maintenance Requirements, and often qualifications in basic damage control and shipboard firefighting required before the candidate could take the written and oral examinations. Other candidate requirements specified in that OPNAVINST required them to have at least 12 months of sea duty (to be accumulated before final qualification), be in promotable status, and to have been recommended for the qualification by the chain of command.

Those instructions were in effect for a dozen years before they were canceled with the release of OPNAVINST 1414.9. which gave all control over warfare-qualifying such as EAWS to the warfare sponsor (aviation, surface, warfare, etc.). The same OPNAVINST made EAWS qualification mandatory for all Sailors serving in a warfare-qualifying command; previously it had been optional, with Sailors who choose to earn it standing out from their peers who did not invest the time and effort to acquire the badge.


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