Email this Article Email   

CHIPS Articles: Warfare Challenges in a New Era of Global Instability

Warfare Challenges in a New Era of Global Instability
Capt. Bob “Clete” Boyer, Director, Battlespace Awareness Division N2/N6F2, explains threats and opportunities
By Sharon Anderson - April-June 2015
In an increasingly complex, more unpredictable world that is growing more volatile, and in some instances, more threatening to the United States, how can the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department organize, train and equip a joint force that is ready for war and is operated forward to preserve the peace?

For a successful attack on stability all an adversary really needs is good training, a laptop, and an Internet connection, explained Capt. Bob “Clete” Boyer, Director, Battlespace Awareness Division N2/N6F2. “How do you defend against that?

“Two years ago, no one had heard of Ebola or Boko Haram,” Boyer said, remarking on the asymmetric security challenges confronting the U.S. and its allies.

No adversary would choose to face an unbeatable U.S. military force in head-to-head combat, Boyer added, so cyber-attacks are on the rise and becoming increasingly aggressive.

OPNAV N2/N6F2 is part of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance. Capt. Boyer provided a perspective on global challenges facing the Navy and innovative strategies being explored in a panel discussion May 19 at the Joint Warfare Symposium in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Foundational Guidance

Boyer explained the DoD and Department of the Navy prioritize resources by adhering to guidance established in the Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 which emphasizes three pillars:

– Protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and to mitigate the effects of potential attacks and natural disasters.

– Build security globally, to preserve regional stability, deter adversaries, support allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.

– Project power and win decisively, to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist networks, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“In using that guidance, the Navy’s executing strategy is being where it matters, when it matters,” Boyer said.

To that end, one of the Navy’s most promising technology breakthroughs has been the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstration program, Boyer said.

The X-47B, UCAS demonstrator, completed its first carrier-based arrested landing on board USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) off the coast of Virginia July 10, 2013. Following more testing, the X-47B successfully conducted the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft April 22, 2015, completing the final test objective under the Navy's UCAS demonstration program, according to the Navy.

While flying off the coast of Maryland and Virginia in the Atlantic Test Ranges, the X-47B connected to an Omega K-707 tanker aircraft and received over 4,000 pounds of fuel using the Navy's probe-and-drogue method, Boyer explained.

The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned and manned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection. The testing helped to solidify the concept that future unmanned aircraft can perform standard missions, like aerial refueling and other Navy core capabilities, and seamlessly integrate with manned aircraft as part of the Carrier Air Wing, Boyer explained.

Boyer added, “The UCAS-Demonstrator has completed its objectives and it’s time to move to the next generation with the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system as an operational capability within the air wing. UCLASS is designed upfront to be adaptable for increased capability in the future, including survivability.”

Over the last few years, the Navy accomplished several significant firsts with the X-47B that showcased the Navy’s commitment to unmanned carrier aviation.

“UAVs will help in all beyond line of sight (BLOS) environments, like A2/AD, anti-access/area-denial situations,” Boyer said. But more work needs to be done in miniaturization [systems onboard the UAS] and in common data standards for integrated communications, he explained. “The Navy is looking for a blended solution with a man on the loop of operating unmanned vehicles.

“The CNO likes to say that every platform is a sensor and all sensors are netted so finding common data standards are important to successfully operating UAVs,” Boyer said. The Navy is also looking to increase the endurance of UAVs, he said.

An F/A-18 pilot, Boyer commanded the seven squadrons of Carrier Air Wing One as “CAG” on the last deployment of the legendary USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in 2012. Air Wing One was composed of four strike-fighter squadrons plus early warning, electronic warfare, and helicopter units — in all, about 60 aircraft.

“Flying the F/A-18 over Iraq and Afghanistan there were definitely missions that a UAV could have safely performed,” Boyer said.

In March, the Secretary of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard jointly released the U.S. maritime strategy, A Cooperative Strategy For 21st Century Seapower. The sea services operate in the world’s oceans to protect the homeland, build security globally, project power, and win decisively. This ability to maneuver globally on the seas and to prevent others from using the sea against our national interests constitutes a strategic advantage for the United States.

Naval forces are organized, trained, and equipped to accomplish these missions through five essential functions: all domain access (including cyber, electromagnetic spectrum and space), deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security, according to the maritime strategy.

“These essential maritime functions aren’t [listed] sequentially or independent — they’re interdependent... Being able to provide maritime security has a global impact,” Boyer said.

Future Force Design

According to the maritime strategy, the future force must be agile, forward-engaged and ready, Boyer explained.

“We have to innovate in all our resources, capability, capacity, people, and concepts in a challenging fiscal environment against asymmetric threats and a highly adaptive adversary,” Boyer said.

One of the ways, the Navy is working to advance its technology and new warfighting concepts is through the Defense Innovation Initiative and the third offset strategy, Boyer explained.

The first offset strategy occurred in the 1950s as a result of the Cold War. When President Eisenhower came into office in 1953, the United States was heavily outnumbered by the Soviet Union’s conventional superiority on the European central front.

To counter Soviet superiority without bankrupting the U.S., Eisenhower’s strategy was to rely on America’s nuclear deterrent, as explained by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work in a series of discussions to announce the Defense Innovation Initiative earlier this year and reported by Defense Media Activity.

“For 50 years it was a successful strategy. We had a very substantial lead at the time, and that technological advantage in nuclear weapons [and their delivery systems] provided the most effective offset to Soviet strength and their geographical advantage,” Boyer explained.

But by the 1970s, the Soviets had been begun to catch up, and it was no longer a credible deterrence, and the dangers of nuclear escalation became too high, according to the DoD.

So in response, in the 1970s, the U.S. developed a second offset strategy with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, launching a project called the Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program. DARPA had the responsibility for integrating promising military technologies into a system of systems for deep attack. It called for aircraft with light area sensor cueing, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles that could dispense a blanket of anti-armor sub-munitions, according to Work.

In combination with the effectiveness of the joint force, emerging battle networks, and the air-land battle concept, the second offset strategy proved effective for decades through the first Gulf War and beyond, providing the U.S. military and its allies with a decisive operational advantage that has lasted now for nearly four decades. But just as with the first offset strategy, the second offset strategy is showing its age, according to the DoD.

To ensure the U.S. maintains conventional deterrence, the DoD is seeking a third offset strategy looking for promising technologies that can be implemented over the FYDP, the future years defense program, generally about five years out.

But actually, the Defense Department will be continuously updating its offset strategy, Boyer explained.

The difference now is that the U.S. doesn’t face a single monolithic adversary as it did in the Cold War. Today, the U.S. faces multiple potential competitors, from small regional states like North Korea and Iran, to large technologically advanced states like Russia and China, to non-state adversaries, terrorists, and international criminals with advanced capabilities.

Each will probably require a different approach and a different strategy, which is why the DoD is looking at advancing multiple "offset strategies."

“Instead of the 50-year advantage as we had over the Soviets, we would probably have no more than a two-year advantage because the enemy is highly adaptive,” Boyer said.

Continuously innovating is critical to ensure flexible, agile, ready forces — providing more forward presence, Boyer said.

In addition to unmanned vehicles and miniaturization, the Navy is looking for game-changing technologies in robotics, autonomous operating guidance and control systems, visualization, biotechnology, advanced computing and big data, and additive manufacturing like 3D printing, power generation and advanced weapons systems — innovations now largely being driven by the commercial sector.

Recruiting, training, equipping and retaining a ready force are other areas ripe for innovative concepts, Boyer said. “People — it won’t work if we don’t have people. How do we bring in professionals? Do we do that with cyber folks in the way that we do with doctors bringing them in after medical school as lieutenants?”

Boyer summarized the challenges: declining budgets, adaptive adversaries, asymmetric threats, cyber-attacks.

“The fiscal challenge is very real; it affects readiness, maintenance, sustainment,” Boyer said, and he cited the acquisition process as another area that needs rapid improvement.

“Just getting proposals through the process takes too long. We have to catch up with the cycle of industry. For example, the [unmanned aerial vehicle] Scan Eagle payload has been updated 47 times in the last six years by the vendor. With our acquisition process, the Navy could not have done that.”

TFCA/CYBERSAFE

Because everything is connected in cyberspace — communications networks, weapons systems, and hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) equipment — the Navy took an innovative approach to look in depth at possible cyber vulnerabilities in its afloat and ashore networks and systems, Boyer said.

The Chief of Naval Operations directed the stand-up of Task Force Cyber Awakening as a cohesive effort to look at DON IT systems holistically in response to cyber threats that run the gamut from an individual sophisticated hacker to rogue and nation-states.

Using the CYBERSAFE framework, the Navy will create a process for identifying and hardening business IT and warfighting networks and systems that extends through the entire life cycle — from development, acquisition, deployment, operation, sustainment and retirement, Boyer explained.

“CYBERSAFE came from the submarine community’s SUBSAFE program. After a series of incidents, the sub community determined if the sub isn’t safe, the nuclear reactor and weapons aren’t safe, so they took action to secure the submarine fleet,” Boyer said.

“CYBERSAFE and TFCA will ensure that the Navy has resilient, multiple paths of communications…”

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 22, 2015) The Navy's unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight. U.S. Navy photo.
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 22, 2015) The Navy's unmanned X-47B receives fuel from an Omega K-707 tanker while operating in the Atlantic Test Ranges over the Chesapeake Bay. This test marked the first time an unmanned aircraft refueled in flight. U.S. Navy photo.

140818-O-SW468-027 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 17, 2014) The Navy's unmanned X-47B launches from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo
140818-O-SW468-027 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 17, 2014) The Navy's unmanned X-47B launches from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 17, 2014) The Navy's unmanned X-47B lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 17, 2014) The Navy's unmanned X-47B lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter.

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 10, 2014) The unmanned X-47B conducts its first night flight April 10 over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Night flights are the next incremental step in developing the operations concept for more routine flight activity. The Navy will continue to execute X-47B test events to mature standard operating procedures for cooperative use of the airspace with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrand.
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (April 10, 2014) The unmanned X-47B conducts its first night flight April 10 over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Night flights are the next incremental step in developing the operations concept for more routine flight activity. The Navy will continue to execute X-47B test events to mature standard operating procedures for cooperative use of the airspace with manned aircraft. U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrand.
Related CHIPS Articles
Related DON CIO News
Related DON CIO Policy
CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

Online ISSN 2154-1779; Print ISSN 1047-9988