Vice Adm. Card was appointed to the rank of vice admiral in June 2011 as he assumed office as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (DCNO) and the 64th Director of Naval Intelligence. He actually wears four hats. Card is also deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer - Navy (D-DONCIO-Navy), and leader of the Information Dominance Corps (IDC). The IDC has about 52,000 military and civilian members working in the fields of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, networks, communications, space, meteorology, oceanography and electronic warfare.
In March, Vice Adm. Card announced his retirement. He will be relieved by Vice Adm. (select) Ted Branch on July 25, 2013. As Vice Adm. Card prepares for his departure, CHIPS asked him to provide a retrospective on the 200 programs under his purview, and to talk about the Navy’s vision for information dominance. The admiral responded in writing in mid-June.
Q: Can you talk about how N2/N6 has helped with respect to the CNO's tenets:
- Warfighting First. Operate Forward. Be Ready;
- The emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region in our forward posture;
- The operation of Navy forces and the projection of power in spite of adversary anti-access/area denial efforts;
- Mastering the electromagnetic domain, assuring access to the cyber commons; and
- Expanding the Navy’s reach through unmanned systems.
A: Let’s take these one at a time, beginning with CNO’s key tenets.
Warfighting First: Virtually everything we do in N2/N6 is focused on improving the Navy's ability to fight and win in the high-threat maritime environment. In addition to supporting traditional Navy warfare areas and missions, N2/N6 is also integrating the Navy's emerging non-kinetic cyber and electronic warfare fires with our current air, surface, subsurface and special warfare fires. We refer to this as “Integrated Fires,” which we have designated as one of our three Information Dominance (ID) key tenets.
Operate Forward: Much of our work is dedicated to enabling our forward-deployed forces to operate and maneuver freely, regardless of the threat environment. Our traditional warfare support areas include providing “Assured Command and Control (C2)” (the second of our key ID tenets) in the face of growing anti-satellite, electronic warfare and cyber-attacks, and providing “Battlespace Awareness (BA)” (our third key ID tenet) about the disposition, intentions and movement of enemy forces as well as the status of their networks and radiated electromagnetic signatures.
I should emphasize that BA is not focused solely on our adversaries; it is also about knowing the physical environment — the weather, atmospheric conditions, the sea state — which are essential to safe and effective operations. Assured C2 and BA ultimately enable us to fully integrate kinetic and non-kinetic fires to maximize our warfighting effects at sea.
Be Ready: Modern weapons are of little value if our Sailors are not properly trained in their use and upkeep, are not able to coordinate actions when the shooting starts, or are unable to improvise and maneuver should our C2 be disrupted. N2/N6 considers the human element a key factor in any warfare system, and we are working with the fleet to ensure Sailors — those young men and women who maintain and operate our information-based systems — have the right training, the required knowledge of tactics, techniques and procedures, and the requisite background in fleet doctrine and enabling concepts to use Navy information systems effectively during normal and combat operations.
Asia Pacific: The pivot to the Asia Pacific region, in the simplest terms, is an increased focus on that theater of operations. The wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean places a core requirement to be able to look over the horizon and locate hostile forces, to seamlessly coordinate kinetic and non-kinetic fires over long distances, and to accurately assess both the results of our long-range fires and the status of our dispersed forces.
N2/N6 plays a major role in all of these areas. We are charged with integrating our diverse information-based capabilities, and equipping our forward-deployed Navy units and commanders to enable properly timed non-kinetic and kinetic effects, which can be flexed on call and applied well within an adversary’s decision cycle. I might add that even though we are heavily focused on the Pacific theater, we have by no means taken our eyes off the remainder of the world, where our Navy remains engaged around the clock.
Anti-Access/Area Denial Efforts: Of particular concern in the Pacific Command and Central Command regions is the growing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threat. As a result, we have had to reexamine many areas within the N2/N6 portfolio to ensure Navy can continue to maneuver through and, if need be, project power in these high-risk waters. The Navy, through Fleet Forces Command and Fleet Cyber Command, continues to prepare for A2/AD scenarios by integrating elements of cyberspace operations into the Fleet Response Training Plan. N2/N6 also contributes to the Advanced Capabilities and Tactics Campaign, focusing on rapid development, testing, exercising and deployment of counter-A2/AD solutions, including updated Navy and joint doctrine and tactics, techniques and procedures.
Electromagnetic Spectrum: Expertise in the electromagnetic spectrum is a core capability that ID provides to our Navy leaders and combatant commanders. The Navy is rebuilding and upgrading its electronic warfare capabilities at sea and in the air, and we are making significant headway toward realizing an emerging Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations doctrine. As the Navy matures these capabilities, N2/N6 continues to play a key role in developing and integrating coherent investment and operational strategies and policies that focus on gaining a decisive warfighting advantage in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Electronic Warfare Battle Management is one concept that aims to refine our combat systems into agile, interoperable, and netted systems-of-systems, regardless of platform. Additionally, N2/N6 is pressing toward individual system and architecture investments that are releasable to key allies and international partners. The availability of these systems and architectures will enhance interoperability and maximize the fleet’s ability to maneuver freely in a contested electromagnetic environment.
The Cyberspace Domain: The Navy has made tremendous strides over the past two years in our understanding and development of operational effects in the cyberspace domain. Guided by our recently published “U.S. Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance 2013-2017” and Fleet Cyber Command’s "Navy Cyber Power 2020" strategy, we heavily emphasize the importance of developing our cyber workforce. In support of U.S. Cyber Command's newly developed cyber force, Fleet Cyber Command (with N2/N6 support) is leading the Navy's efforts to source 40 offensive and defensive teams to defend-the-nation, support combatant command operations, and assure access to critical networks.
Additionally, N2/N6 is coordinating with DoD and national agencies to develop standards for recruiting and training both the nation's and the Navy's cyber workforce. I believe that today, our Navy is well positioned to increase capacity, capability, and expertise in the cyberspace domain.
Unmanned Systems: We fully expect our unmanned systems, both in the air and under the sea, will grow in numbers, capabilities and operations around the world for the next several decades. For a dispersed and forward-deployed force like the U.S. Navy, unmanned sensors are becoming increasingly essential for remote surveillance and reconnaissance where longer-range adversary weapons are proliferating and able to place our manned forces at risk. As you have heard, the Navy is also actively pursuing specialized unmanned reconnaissance capabilities.
One such system, for example, is our Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UCLASS), an armed reconnaissance system. UCLASS is designed for persistent ISR as well as over-the-horizon operations in high threat environments. In other articles published in CHIPS, we have made reference to our family of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets which includes UCLASS.
Our goal is to bring to the fleet a number of unmanned systems that can complement the capabilities of manned platforms. We want every platform (manned or unmanned) to be a sensor, and every sensor to be connected. We are working on that diligently within N2/N6, and I am very pleased with our recent successes. Through literally thousands of hours of teamwork with the fleet, our systems commands, program offices and other OPNAV partners, the Navy achieved several highly successful demonstrations that truly advanced modern warfighting.
These historic “firsts” included the catapult launch of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System – Demonstrator from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on 14 May; the first flight of the Triton high-altitude airborne surveillance platform at Palmdale, California on 22 May; and the first launch of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System from the rotary-wing Fire Scout on the 31st. These are important firsts that prove we are rapidly moving into a new era of warfare.
Q: You and Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, signed three strategy documents in November: the IDC Human Capital Strategy 2012-2017, Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance 2013-2017 and Navy Cyber Power 2020. Why are these strategies important?
A: These integrated strategies are important as they identify milestones upon which those of us in the IDC must focus our energies in the coming years. Nearly everything we do in N2/N6 directly impacts or is impacted by some other program in the Navy. As a consequence of this inter-connected nature of our information-based activities, we must carefully project the potential impact that a change in one system or area may have on the function of another. We are dedicated to integrating the Navy’s many information-based systems and capabilities to optimize the support we provide to the fleet. These inter-related strategies provide the impetus to keep us looking forward and moving as quickly as possible while at the same time remind us not to break anything in the process.
Q: USS Milius (DDG 69) is the first ship in the fleet to get the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) system. Can you talk about why the fleet is so excited about CANES and what it means to the Navy?
A: The fleet is excited about CANES because it is the modernized backbone of our at-sea command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I). Today’s legacy networks afloat — which have become business, administrative and C4I workhorses — all came to the fleet at different times with different requirements and separate logistics and training tails, as well as different software and hardware baselines.
To make matters worse, security and information assurance were not integrated from the get-go; they were, in many cases, retro-fitted as afterthoughts. These poorly coordinated responses to real requirements led to configuration management getting out of control with over 600 unique baselines on 280 ships and no programmed technical refresh. CANES replaces current afloat networks with network security at the core of its design, and with technology insertion and refresh programmed ahead of time. The fleet is rightfully excited because CANES delivers secure, reliable voice, video, data, and system management functions to host applications that enable our warfighters to more effectively share information and achieve a common understanding of the battlespace.
Additionally, CANES provides streamlined shipboard maintenance and administrative activities. I am excited because CANES makes life better for Sailors and this innovative acquisition strategy is based on competition, open standards, the regular insertion of updated technologies, and government-owned data rights. CANES competition so far has already saved the Navy millions of dollars. That real savings has allowed us to reinvest in other C4I capabilities, as well as accelerating CANES estimated full operational capability by three years. Obviously, I am very pleased with the CANES program overall.
Q: Can you talk about the significance of the Naval Intelligence realignment late last year with Rear Adm. Samuel J. Cox assuming command of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and Director, National Maritime Intelligence Integration Office (NMIO)?
A: Last year's Naval Intelligence realignment was an easy decision which made a ton of sense. Not only did we gain a senior, experienced leader in both positions, the assignment aligns and integrates Naval Intelligence with the NMIO's national mission. As a consequence, Rear Adm. Cox is perfectly positioned to leverage Naval Intelligence in support of his NMIO responsibility, which is to lead collaboration, integration and synchronization efforts with maritime stakeholders across the U.S. government, state,local,tribal departments and agencies, academia, maritime business sector, and foreign partners. I strongly feel a flag officer is needed at ONI in view of its global focus, worldwide operations, critical intelligence support to national, theater and tactical commanders, not to mention its significant manpower and budgetary resources. Sam Cox’s leadership and experience made him the obvious person for the job.
Q: How would you assess the Navy’s efforts to reduce information technology (IT) spending and increase efficiencies in its business processes? Do you think there are ways to reduce IT costs further, especially during this time of budget uncertainty?
A: I would say the Navy has made significant progress. We have greatly improved our visibility on IT expenditures Navywide, which is obviously a key step in being able to reduce spending and to find efficiencies. Over the past year, we have also matured an information technology procurement request process, which uses a tool called Navy Information Dominance Approval System (NAVIDAS). This tool allows us to see where the individual units of the Navy plan to spend their IT dollars. Today, all Navy commands must submit a formal procurement request for any business IT assets (including hardware, software and manpower); they no longer have the luxury of spending without higher-level oversight.
If a procurement request exceeds $500,000, the request comes directly to my staff. We then align the request with existing capabilities in order to find economies of scale and to ensure procurements are compliant with existing DoD IT policies. This change was absolutely essential to us in that now we have visibility into $3.5 billion of spending that we did not previously have.
We are also in a full-court press to reduce the number of our data centers, as well as migrating disparate portal environments into one iNavy portal. Specifically in the shore environment, our next IT efficiency effort aims at consolidating existing help desks. These consolidations and migrations into fewer, enterprise capabilities will bring both dollar savings and better security as we remove potential vulnerability access points.
Finally, we continue to look for other areas of cost reduction, especially as we migrate to our Next Generation, or NGEN, shore network environment and consolidate our array of shipboard networks into CANES.
Q: The functions of the Office of the DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness are combined within the DCNO for Information Dominance, specifically within the Oceanography, Space and MDA Directorate (N2/N6E). Can you talk about your role in MDA?
A. Under the delegated authority of the Secretary of the Navy, N2/N6E, Rear Adm. Jon White, serves as the DoD’s Executive Agent for MDA (DoD EA/MDA). In this role, he works across the DoD to ensure appropriate capabilities and policies are in place for the department and its partners. As DCNO, I am responsible to SECNAV for overseeing MDA priorities as well as communications among DoD branches and agencies. Our current activities primarily focus on closing validated MDA capability gaps and seams within the Navy and DoD. We also function as the interagency liaison for implementing MDA at the national level.
Q: Can you discuss the importance and future of unmanned vehicles and systems in the Navy?
A. As mentioned earlier, unmanned systems are a critical element of the Navy's current and future force. Unmanned systems, along with updated weapons, sensors and networks, expand the reach and mission effectiveness of manned aircraft, ships and submarines. As we look to the future, unmanned systems will have greater autonomy and be fully integrated with their manned counterparts. In the aggregate, this will make the fleet more effective, lethal, and mission survivable. Across all domains, the Navy will continue to dominate the use of a network of sensors and platforms with the expanded reach and persistence provided by unmanned autonomous systems.
Q: Are there areas in which you think significant improvements have been achieved in realizing the Navy’s vision for information dominance? Also, which areas do you wish could improve more quickly?
A. The first key step, of course, was bringing together the four fairly diverse communities responsible for the various aspects and functions of the Navy’s overall information portfolio. For the most part, we have been very successful in knocking down pre-existing barriers and stovepipes, and I believe we have achieved an abiding sense of mutual support and interdependence among those communities. We have also made great strides in understanding our strengths and weaknesses in the cyberspace domain; in modernizing the Navy’s aging electronic warfare capabilities; in elevating awareness of our vulnerabilities to certain anti-access/area denial threats; and in understanding the growing threats posed to our space-based infrastructure.
Regarding improvements, I think we still have a way to go in ensuring that we fully understand the potential impact of every new and proposed platform and weapon system on the Navy’s existing and planned information infrastructure. Within the IDC itself, we have more work to do in ensuring our people are fully trained for the many challenges ahead.
Q: Do you think the IDC and the programs under N2/N6 are being recognized in the fleet and by the warfighter?
A. Yes, over the past three-and-half years, the integrated N2/N6 organization at OPNAV, the mission of the Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, and the standup of an integrated IDC are all more widely understood in the fleet. However, we have more work to do. I would be the first to tell you that our diverse portfolio — involving everything from cyber, electronic warfare, networks, satellites, intelligence, cryptology and meteorology — does not fit neatly into any one box.
As such, I know that much of what we do in the IDC is still not fully understood by every one of our counterparts in the other warfighting communities. I do know we are moving in the right direction, and that the integration of the Navy’s information capabilities and delivery of warfighting effects in combination with other community warfighting effects will become even more crucial — and will become better recognized — as we encounter the more dynamic, lethal and complex maritime environments expected in the coming years.
Q: The CNO has talked frequently about information dominance as a warfighting discipline on par with surface, submarine and air warfare. He has also spoken about cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum as distinct warfare mediums. From your perspective, how do you see the IDC evolving to succeed in these new battlespaces?
A: We now live in the Information Age, which I prefer to call the Age of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. While this does not roll off the tongue quite as easily, I believe it is more accurate. The IDC, through its component communities, has been conducting warfare operations in cyberspace and across the electromagnetic spectrum for many years. However, modern warfare has brought the IDC forward and cemented its position as a primary warfighting pillar in a unique domain performing a unique mission. To enhance this position, we have reviewed IDC’s composition and effectiveness across a range of manpower, personnel, training, and education issues, including accessions, billet alignment, professional development, and promotion.
From an education and training view, we have developed common core training for our officers and we are working on our enlisted force’s curriculum as well. We are working with the Naval Postgraduate School to revise cyber education curricula, to include an enlisted cyber master's program. We have also piloted a civilian cyber graduate education program.
Regarding leadership and professional development, we have instituted fundamental changes, such as a single designator for IDC flag officers, an IDC command qualification program to prepare our officers for future leadership opportunities, and combined officer summary groups on all fitness reports. The combined officer summary group effort is a precursor to the establishment of a single IDC competitive category for promotion. With these transformational changes in place, I fully expect the IDC to continue on a trajectory towards a more unified, professional fighting force, while retaining the very essential specialized skills and competencies of each component community. In short, I believe information dominance professionals all have a bright future in our Navy.
One last thing. As I prepare to head out the door after 35 years of naval service, I want to let the readers of CHIPS know that I could not be prouder of the N2/N6 staff, and the IDC as a whole. They have built on the rich heritage of their respective component communities and ratings, and in just a few years coalesced into fully consolidated,coordinated Corps of Information Age warfighters.
Collectively, they have proven to be a vital force within the U.S. Navy, delivering capabilities, systems and platforms that will ensure the Navy’s prominence and dominance in all facets of warfare for years to come. Even more important, they provide the Navy with a highly educated and trained force of dedicated professionals — officer, enlisted and civilian; active and Reserve. The Navy and our nation will need all their skills and talents as we face the threats of the future. I am extremely confident they will deliver, just as they have during the couple of years that I have had the honor and pleasure of guiding their efforts. I would like to thank all of them for their continued service!