On July 31, 2006, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen announced the establishment of the Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist (EXW) warfare qualification. Four-and-a-half months later, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Carl P. Hurtt became the first Sailor to be pinned with the EXW breast insignia in a ceremony held on board U.S. Naval Base Guam.

The Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist (EXW) qualification was established to recognize the invaluable contributions of many of the units assigned to Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) in the Global War on Terror. Award of the EXW insignia indicates the recipient has acquired a high level of expertise in expeditionary warfare, maritime security, and anti-terrorism/force protection.

The Personnel Qualification Standard for the EXW outlined in NAVEDTRA 43296 is extremely broad in its scope, with subject areas that include (but obviously not limited to) safety and first aid, mission planning, operations (convoy, field, combat) use of force and Rules of Engagement (including Law of Armed Conflict, C3 (Command, Control, Communications), antiterrorism and force-protection measures, and the basics of patrol boat operations. The PQS also has detailed sections on equipment commonly used in expeditionary operations: night-vision devices, radios, generators, signaling devices, engineering equipment, and so forth.

In addition to meeting the EXW PQS, candidates must qualify in Ship's Maintenance and Material Management (3-M) Systems (NAVEDTRA 43241series). They also must be recommended for the qualification by their chain of command.

OPNAVINST 1414.7 stated that eligibility was limited to those on Type 2 or Type 4 sea duty or serving in an Inshore Boat Unit (IBU), Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit (MIUWU), or in a Reserve Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron, as well as Sailors assigned to subordinate units of the NECC that hosted an approved EXW qualification program. The OPNAVINST did make provisions for NECC subordinate units to request permission to launch their own EXW programs. However, the release of OPNAVINST 1414.9 made warfare qualifications mandatory for Sailors assigned to warfare qualifying commands.

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