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CHIPS Articles: Navy Technology Commands Improve Information Warfare Readiness

Navy Technology Commands Improve Information Warfare Readiness
By Rita Boland, Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Public Affairs - January 9, 2019
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- In early January, a consortium of operational and supporting commands officially approved and moved into a bigger effort the final draft of the Information Warfare Readiness Improvement Plan (IWRIP) that Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) released in late December.

Implementation of the plan in 2019 will change the way fleet uses C4I capabilities, better positioning Sailors to compete, deter and win.

“Readiness is one of the biggest concerns across the Navy, and the Information Warfare community is no different,” said Rear Adm. Carl “Chebs” Chebi, program executive officer, PEO C4I. “It’s not good enough to be reactive to systems’ problems on ships or other platforms. We have to be smart and clever about being proactive. What we’re driving toward is an environment with better technology that lets Sailors employ, maneuver and manage their C4I capabilities with less onboard assistance from the SYSCOM [systems command]. That’s what the IWRIP and some related initiatives get after.”

By reducing or even eliminating the need for onboard C4I troubleshooting assistance from outside sources, fleet units will experience less degradation of services and more advantages in adversarial environments. In terms of the IWRIP, “employ” denotes the use of systems in normal operations; “maneuver” is their use in contested operations; and “manage” applies at all times. Ideally, none would require actions beyond the capability of the ship’s force or outside the scope of the Joint Fleet Maintenance Manual.

The IWRIP supports the Information Warfare Enterprise- (IWE) sponsored Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems and Intelligence (C5I) Wholeness Campaign Plan. That plan is U.S. Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) Command’s macro-level guide to achieving enhanced C5I readiness. Elements of the IWRIP are now incorporated in the C5I Wholeness Campaign Plan in order to assure alignment and synchronization across the IWE. In mid-December, representatives from commands such as PEO C4I, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Pacific Fleet and NAVIFOR participated in a working group in San Diego to finalize development of the IWRIP.

“We did some preliminary homework, then invited stakeholder representatives to roll up their sleeves and join us for two days of brainstorming,” said Dr. William Luebke, director, Logistics and Fleet Support, SPAWAR.

The IWRIP incorporates four main lines of effort (LOEs): design, materiel, documentation and personnel. Team members will tailor capabilities to Sailors, validate materiel to support requirements, provide usable and effective documentation, and finally ensure procedures and personnel to properly man, train and qualify/certify across the Optimized Fleet Readiness Plan (OFRP).

Under the Design LOE, personnel will address some of the more complex C5I systems, which can be cumbersome to self-sustain. Depending on circumstances, support for these systems ranges from finding ways to make contact with support personnel in other locations to extreme conditions requiring personnel to fly out to ships or other locations to troubleshoot problems. Need for such help comes from causes such as variance of equipment across like platforms, complexity of the systems and obsolescence of parts in the systems/orphans. “Orphan systems,” in general, are systems without adequate support and sustainment.

Within the year, the IWRIP team members will attempt to eliminate C4I orphans. They also aim to reduce the complexity of C4I systems to simplify operations and to reduce maintenance and repair requirements, in part through increased automation. Finally, they will lower the total number of C4I baselines in the fleet and strive to deliver a common baseline across all ships in a strike group by 2020.

In terms of design, system developers will never get to a state without variability among platforms because Sailors customize tools to meet changing mission needs. PEO C4I is moving toward a DevOps environment that will be more like a smartphone with the variations more like apps added onto a baseline (the operating system) that comes from the N2/N6 level.

The Materiel LOE addresses a straightforward issue: necessary material resources onboard ships or in the Navy stock system to consistently maintain optimum operational readiness. One key action item under this LOE involves deeper analysis by the PEO C4I system owners and by members of SPAWAR’s Fleet Readiness Directorate. That work aims to introduce tools such as predictive analysis to reduce downtime waiting for parts not already onboard ships. Additionally, coordination will continue with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support to increase range and depth of materiel support for Information Warfare capabilities as well as to improve service levels and process control to deliver a higher yield of material support within available resources.

The Documentation LOE will develop complete, capability-focused documents and procedures and ensure alignment to fleet training, certification and employment objectives. The efforts will address the clearly defined and documented C4I baselines. They also will tackle current C4I system documentation to address holistic C4I capability employment, ensuring is written to an understandable level, is in a usable format for the fleet user or is aligned toward Sailor/crew certification requirements. In addition to instituting and implementing instructions, new documents and procedures, project personnel will develop “Millennial-friendly” C4I baseline documents and drawings to support the goal for common baselines for strike groups by 2020.

Finally, the Personnel LOE drives right to the heart of the problem IWRIP wants to address. Fleet personnel face challenges self-sufficiently employing, maneuvering and managing C4I capability missions. Type commands, training commands and acquisition commands will work together and with operational stakeholders to address causal factors. Their results will couple with PEO C4I’s responsibility to design more user-friendly systems.

“What we’re trying to do is increase Information Warfare readiness throughout the acquisition lifecycle from maintenance through sustainment,” said Sean Zion, the assistant program executive officer for logistics at PEO C4I. “No matter what technology we have, the people component remains the most important part. Our partners and we are making big changes in training and assignments to ensure the operational fleet can deliver warfighting capability.”

Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) provides integrated communication and information technology systems that enable information warfare and command and control of maritime forces. PEO C4I acquires, fields and supports C4I systems which extend across Navy, joint and coalition platforms. More information can be found at http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/PEOC4I/Pages/default.aspx

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