Fleet Cyber Sailors Train On 'Notional Computers'
FORT MEADE, Md. — The Navy's Tenth Fleet, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, announced that it had received final approval from the Chief of Naval Operations to begin an innovative cyber training program using Notional Operating Trainers, or NOTs, to better prepare sailors to combat the growing cyber threat.
"NOTs are simply the idea of a computer," according to Fleet Cyber Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sean Riordan. "We used to train with actual computers, but you wouldn't believe what these weirdos would do with them."
"Sailors kept downloading terabyte upon terabyte of porn, often filled with malware," he added. "One sailor even managed to get his 'harpoon' stuck in a USB port."
After a rigorous 156 week selection and assessment process, sailors are authorized to imagine they are sitting at a computer terminal and begin the familiarization process.
"At first, we sat them down at old TRS-80s," Riordan said. "But some of them had built-in modems, and pretty soon the ones who'd been in their high school A/V clubs had established dial-up connections to NORAD."
During the familiarization time, sailors become comfortable NOT training for hours on end while fighting the urge to doze off or Google "leaked J-Law pics." Preliminary reports suggest most sailors are able to NOT conjure up anything without relying on the training manual.
"If our sailors aren't safe, how can they possibly defend against the terrorist cyber threat?" asked Command Master Chief Alan Turing. "By letting their imaginations run wild instead of searching for 'Girls Gone Wild,' our sailors train like they fight."
A related RAND Corp. study commissioned by the Defense Health Agency demonstrated the health risks of training with functioning systems, including blindness and hairy palms. RAND showed that, after just two weeks of training on a real computer, sailors were able to encrypt their porn collections and access the internet through secure VPN connections, masking their activities from red team analysts.
Some civilian researchers are dubious of this new approach to cyber training.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Brady Zubkoff noted, "Absolutely none of the peer-reviewed research supports the assertion that pretending to use a computer is remotely close to actually using a computer."
Turing downplays the significance of Zubkoff's research.
"We are confident that NOTs will mold our sailors into cyber warriors," Turing asserted. "By using their imaginations, we can train them on state of the art or next gen systems right away."
"It's a whole lot better than the Windows 3.1 systems we actually have," Turing added. "That's for darn sure."