On 8 May 2013 over 400 lucky defense contractors were treated to a sold-out full agenda from the Navy as they briefed their Information Dominance programs. This is the fourth year that Navy has done this and it is an outstanding forum! All the senior IT Navy leadership arrived early, mingled with the audience, stayed late and answered all the questions thrown at them! VADM Card (OPNAV N2/N6), VADM Rogers (10th Fleet), RADM Klunder (ONR), RADM Brady (SPAWAR) and their key staff provided a thorough discussion on the key issues.
This year I was interested in the terminologies and buzzwords that are being used, since there have been some very dramatic changes over the past few years. You can learn a lot by noticing what words have become vogue and what words have silently disappeared. This year it was all warrior-talk. The Navy is clearly laser focused on dominating cyberspace! I heard very little on SOA, “Roadmaps” and NETOPS and much more on disrupting the adversaries kill chain and delivering non-kinetic effects.
There are three fundamental capabilities in their new vision. Assured C2 dictates that the Navy has the ability to command and control their forces and that data availability, integrity and confidentiality are “assured”. Battlespace Awareness includes persistent surveillance (manned and unmanned, but definitely a focus on more unmanned) to ensure that situational awareness is achieved. Integrated fires, although not new, is most certainly achieving a new place of prominence in Navy vernacular. This includes the ability to “seize the initiative” to exploit and attack the vulnerabilities of our adversaries to achieve non-kinetic effects (i.e., fires) (i.e., make bad cyber things happen to them while making sure bad cyber things don’t happen to us).
There was surprisingly little “woe is me… my budget is cut!” talk. Despite some obvious budget cuts (mostly FY13), the Navy funding for information dominance initiatives appears to be strong and showed a reassuringly steady growth curve for the next few years. The much anticipated NGEN Contract was mentioned by several briefers as “about to be awarded this month”. (Can’t wait! Talk about a LONG TIME COMING!) CANES (ship upgrades) are finally delivering to the first ship (the USS MILIUS) and remain an important program for Navy. They are now evaluating inputs to an RFI on contract strategies for a follow-on CANES program so we expect to see more CANES acquisitions in the future.
The tone of the briefings was forceful and action-oriented. The Information Dominance Corps (IDC) has been evolving for years. Originally relegated to pure support functions as a passive enabler of warfare, they find themselves now in the position of the cyber warrior, capable of delivering cyber “effects” including offensive cyber attacks and directed energy weapons. For the first time, these are considered combat roles that are key to defeating an enemy. These people are focused on operationalizing the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace into a warfighting domain.