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CHIPS Articles: Supporting a "Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" through Interoperability

Supporting a "Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower" through Interoperability
By George Galdorisi and Dr. Stephanie Hszieh - January-March 2008

The nation's new maritime strategy, titled "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," has made cooperation a key element in the future of U.S. Navy operations. The new strategy looks at cooperation at two levels — home and abroad.

Cooperation at home calls attention to the fact that this new strategy was signed by the leaders of the nation's three primary maritime forces — the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Cooperation abroad is seen in the concept of the Global Maritime Partnership, which calls for the formation of an informal network of maritime forces dedicated to maintaining the safety and security of the world's oceans and sea lanes.

One of the biggest challenges to ensuring the success of the Global Maritime Partnership is technical — how do the navies of disparate nations that desire to operate together at sea obtain the requisite C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems that will enable them to truly network and make the global maritime partnership a reality.


"The essence of military strategy in this globalized world is therefore the interdependence of the players," said then-CNO Adm. Michael Mullen at the 37th Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis Fletcher National Security Conference in late September 2007, a month before the release of the new maritime strategy.

Adm. Mullen's statement captures the foundation of the new maritime strategy: the need for U.S. maritime forces to be engaged in cooperative missions at the national and international level to ensure national security in an era of growing interdependence between nations for trade and security.

In other words, U.S. maritime forces, and the U.S. Navy in particular, must be prepared for coalition interoperability.

This theme of cooperation and interoperability has been espoused in the new maritime strategy, and the events surrounding its release emphasized its importance and renewed dedication to international cooperation.

The strategy was unveiled in October by CNO Adm. Gary Roughead to an audience of more than 100 representatives of international navies and coast guards at the 18th International Seapower Symposium (ISS) in Newport, R.I.

The need for cooperation was restated by Adm. Roughead in a Rhumb Lines article. He noted, "This strategy represents a new vision for the 21st century. It codifies long-standing challenges and reflects a commitment by the maritime services to work cooperatively with friends, partners and allies to realize a shared vision of mutual security, stability and prosperity."

The idea of international cooperation is codified in the Global Maritime Partnership initiative, which is one of the key strategic imperatives of the new maritime strategy. The goal of the Global Maritime Partnership is to build an informal maritime network to enhance the security of the world’s oceans and sea lanes.

The idea of the partnership evolved from Adm. Mullen's concept of creating a 1000-ship navy of coalition partners and allies to respond to international natural disasters and fight the war on terror, a proposal he made as CNO before becoming the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Adm. Mullen described the thousandship concept in 2005 as, "…a thousandship navy — a fleet in-being, if you will — made up of the best capabilities of all freedom-loving navies of the world … This thousand-ship navy would integrate the capabilities of the maritime services to create a fully interoperable force, an international city at sea."

The embodiment of the 1000-ship navy is at the core of the Global Maritime Partnership and coalition interoperability is a key element in current and future policies established by the U.S. Navy.

Adm. Roughead noted in his CNO Guidance for 2007-2008 that one of the key enablers for maintaining warfighter readiness is to "Evolve and establish international relationships to increase security and achieve common interests in the maritime domain."


For the U.S. Navy, establishing coalition interoperability means developing the capability to be able to operate in a networked environment. In the capstone publication of the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation, the now deceased [retired] Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski noted, "The United States wants its partners to be as interoperable as possible. Not being interoperable means you are not on the net, so you are not in a position to derive power from the information age."

FORCEnet is the U.S. Navy's answer to Admiral Cebrowski's goal of transforming the military to be able to take advantage of the surge of technology that is driving the information age revolution.

The challenge facing the Navy with implementing the new maritime strategy is to ensure that FORCEnet can be expanded to enhance U.S. Navy participation in the Global Maritime Partnership.

The emerging challenge is the need to accommodate nations with limited network-centric capabilities. This issue was raised by Professor Paul Mitchell when he was director of academics at the Canadian Forces College.

Mitchell wrote about the struggle of small navies in the Naval War College Review, "Is there a place for small navies in network-centric warfare? Will they be able to make any sort of contribution in multinational naval operations of the future? Or will they be relegated to the sidelines, undertaking the most menial of tasks, encouraged to stay out of the way — or stay at home … The 'need for speed' in network-centric operations places the whole notion of multinational operations at risk."

The challenges of coalition interoperability have begun to surface at the operational level as the U.S. Navy's five numbered fleet commanders have consistently identified one C4ISR issue as their top priority: coalition communications. These warfighters recognize that the ability to communicate and exchange data with coalition partners is important to their success across a wide range of missions, but also that networking with the coalition partners in their areas of responsibility is increasingly challenging.

The imperative to provide the U.S. Navy's operational commanders with better tools for coalition communications has percolated to the highest levels of the Department of the Navy and Department of Defense. The Naval NETWAR FORCEnet Enterprise (NNFE) is spearheading these efforts to provide warfighters with just the right tools for effective networking with likely coalition partners.

Soon after assuming his duties as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communications Networks, Vice Adm. Mark Edwards, who is also the chief financial officer of the NNFE, stressed the crucial importance of networking with coalition partners.

In a memorandum to the director of the Warfare Integration Division, Vice Adm. Edwards directed his staff to "Lead an effort to …identify the funding, personnel, organization and processes for ensuring interoperability with coalition navies at the sensitive but unclassified level where possible … [and] ensure coalition interoperability is considered at the earliest stages of capability development."

The NNFE's chief executive officer, Vice Adm. Denby Starling, commander of Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM), also stressed the importance of coalition networking.

At the 2007 NNFE and Industry Conference in San Diego, Calif., Vice Adm. Starling reiterated the importance of coalition interoperability when he said that "FORCEnet is the force multiplier for our Navy of the future. It is what makes the 1000-ship navy concept possible."

The Global Maritime Partnership

Providing the technical ability to foster international relationships has been the common aim of the NNFE and Team SPAWAR. Rear Adm. Michael Bachmann, NNFE chief operating officer, and commander for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command noted the opportunities and challenges facing Team SPAWAR's work in facilitating coalition interoperability in the June 2007 issue of RUSI Defence Systems, an international defense publication.

Rear Adm. Bachmann said, "We know the technology exists to make coalition communications better. We've seen some very promising examples in combined fleet operations. The challenge comes in sharing the technology capabilities at a cost and in the quantities necessary to make it viable to our coalition partners."

Team SPAWAR has been involved in building the capability for the fleet to expand FORCEnet capabilities to coalition partners. There have been some promising technologies that support coalition interoperability, and some have met the need for low-cost systems that will make it much easier for our coalition partners to be part of the global maritime partnership.

One example is the development of the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), a global information-sharing network established in 2002. CENTRIXS has been used by the U.S. Navy and partner nations across the maritime domain in coalition efforts like Operation Enduring Freedom. Team SPAWAR members have been actively involved in developing the architecture for CENTRIXS, and developing new technologies to provide greater security while maintaining network flexibility.

Team SPAWAR's involvement in the annual Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID), sponsored by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is another example of moving forward to support the Global Maritime Partnership.

CWID is the vehicle for the combatant commanders to test new C4ISR technologies, many of which support coalition interoperability. Each year one of the COCOMs hosts the event for testing new technologies in a simulated operational scenario. Team SPAWAR serves as the host of the U.S. Navy's CWID tests to ensure that new technologies can be integrated into FORCEnet's architecture.

Interoperability at the grass-roots

Team SPAWAR's efforts are helping to bring the Global Maritime Partnership into fruition, but additional work needs to be done to build the technical infrastructure to ensure the future of maritime partnerships.

"We must move beyond limited approaches to link a few secure common systems with software applications like CENTRIXS and get to a fully integrated regional picture from ports to harbors and into the commons," wrote Capt. Gordon Van Hook, executive director of the CNO's Executive Panel in the October issue of the U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine.

Capt. Van Hook added that to encourage this expansion of coalition interoperability, the U.S. Navy must step back and allow the development of grass-roots initiatives to solve various security and technical issues.

Team SPAWAR has begun to look to the future of the Global Maritime Partnership and has joined at the grass-roots level to help build the future of the Global Maritime Partnership. That effort has come in the form of Team SPAWAR's involvement in The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP).

Scientists and engineers involved in TTCP come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States. TTCP is one of the largest collaborative defense science and technology activities in the world.

Recently the TTCP group, led by Team SPAWAR members, generated analytical data and conducted modeling and simulation to demonstrate that if the U.S. Navy's FORCEnet is developed in a way that is inclusive of likely coalition partners, who, in turn, build their national systems to be compatible with FORCEnet, the naval forces involved will enjoy a quantum increase in capability.

Team SPAWAR's efforts in TTCP have been led by Mr. Don Endicott of SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego's Communications and Information Department (Code 55000).


Team SPAWAR is energized to lead the U.S. Navy's effort in building FORCEnet to support the Global Maritime Partnership. This hard technical work — at the laboratory level — is important.

This is because naval leaders will not be convinced to provide the resources to enable this networking at sea unless they see the rigorous analytical underpinning that conclusively demonstrates the enhanced operational effectiveness that one navy gains by networking with its coalition partners.

And without the requisite technology infusion within all of these navies, the dream of a Global Maritime Partnership may never be realized.

Mr. George Galdorisi is the director of the Decision Support Group for SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego. He has been working with The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) and coalition networking for the past seven years.

Dr. Stephanie Hszieh is an analyst in the Decision Support Group for SPAWAR Systems Center San Diego. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California.

WASHINGTON – Dec. 13, 2007 – From left, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead and Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen appear before the House Armed Services Committee to give testimony and answer questions concerning the unified maritime strategy. “The Cooperative Maritime Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” seeks to use the assets of all three of the nation’s maritime services to achieve a balance of peacetime engagement and major combat operation capabilities to include forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and human assistance and disaster response. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones.
GULF OF ADEN – Dec. 12, 2007 – A boarding team from USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) approaches merchant vessel Golden Nori after pirates released the Japanese chemical tanker Dec. 12. The pirates seized the ship off the coast of Somalia in late October. The release of Golden Nori marks the first time in more than a year that no ships are held by Somali pirates. Whidbey Island is currently deployed to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). Coalition forces conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Michael Junge.
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