“The goal of Navy Information Dominance is to deliver decision-quality information, enable freedom of maneuver in all warfighting domains, and integrate Navy fires, whether projected through the network or delivered kinetically… for hard-kill or soft-kill,” said the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2/N6)/Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice Adm. Ted N. Branch, in a recent series of speaking engagements.
Branch delivered remarks about the Navy ID goals and challenges while joining other leaders in a panel discussion about information dominance at a military conference in February. Since then, he has been engaging naval and industry audiences across the country to drive home his point: Navy Information Dominance is a critical warfighting pillar, like aviation, surface warfare, and submarine warfare, exercised in a domain that must be mastered just as the Navy has mastered the air, surface, and undersea domains. He shared that same message during an interview on AFCEA Answers, a Federal News Radio weekly program on April 11.
Branch also had good news for Information Dominance Corps (IDC) members when he spoke at an All Hands in the San Diego area in February and again at the Information Dominance Leader Symposium in Potomac, Maryland, in June. His message: The value of the IDC is resonating within the fleet.
“The vision the Navy has for the IDC is beginning to gel,” Branch said. The admiral said the IDC is “exceptionally skilled, smart, and forward-leaning with greater operational relevance, warfighting credibility, and fleet acceptance — and on path to be [the] 21st century’s dominant warfighters.”
Information dominance is not just another word for cyber, Branch noted. “ID encompasses so much more. It’s METOC, intelligence, networks, communications, and space,” he said. “It’s the full range of information capabilities delivered in partnership with kinetic warriors. Achieving ID requires teamwork and practice by the Navy’s warfighters, not just the Information Dominance Corps, the Navy’s newest Corps of warfighters.”
The Navy’s Information Dominance Strategy is focused on providing:
- Robust and agile command and control in all operating environments;
- Superior knowledge of the current and predicted Battlespace; and
- The ability to project power through both kinetic and non-kinetic means, which includes networks, cyber, and the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum.
“We refer to these three core elements of Information Dominance as Assured C2, Battlespace Awareness, and Integrated Fires, respectively,” Branch said.
The admiral explained that OPNAV N2/N6 organized and prioritized the Navy’s fiscal year 2015 Information Dominance portfolio investments (over 200 separate programs valued at $15 billion) according to these elements as well as Defense Strategic Guidance objectives.
“Through its core elements, Information Dominance not only facilitates decision superiority, it provides us with asymmetric advantage in all warfighting domains, enhances the lethality of our deployed forces, and provides non-kinetic options that increase our tactical and operational versatility. The elements also correspond to the Navy’s three tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready,” Branch added.
Information Dominance enables the three tenets as follows:
- Operate Forward: Enabling freedom of maneuver in the EM spectrum and assuring the ability to direct operations and coordinate actions in contested environments overseas is paramount for successful operations forward. Additionally, our evolving ISR capabilities contribute to Battlespace Awareness by delivering information on the threat and physical environments world-wide. Connectivity to the Global Information Grid allows us to operate forward. What’s more, the global disposition of our forces contributes essential information (e.g., weather, intelligence, etc.) for distribution to forces forward.
- Warfighting First: With this enhanced Battlespace Awareness and Assured C2, commanders are able to achieve improved Maritime Domain Awareness in order to definitively assess threats and determine their most efficient and effective courses of action using the increased range of kinetic weapons and non-kinetic effects available to them.
- Be Ready: Maintaining a continuously refreshed awareness of the operating environment gives us the advantage of foreknowledge, which facilitates our ability to prepare and coordinate well in advance of forward operations.
The Information Dominance Corps
The members of the IDC are the practitioners of ID Warfare. “To advance the vision for the IDC,” Branch said, “the Corps must evolve from its construct of five ‘tribes.’” Furthermore, “it must transition from a multi-disciplinary group of loosely federated communities into an inter-disciplinary Corps through cross-detailing and career path management.” “We will shore up our core training to retain our depth of expertise within the traditional Information Dominance specialties,” he added. “The strength of the IDC is its professional and technical diversity, and we won’t sacrifice that.” “Every community, Officer, Enlisted, Reserve and Civilian, must retain its identity and depth of expertise. But together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. And each member of the Corps should understand their role in this larger context — an understanding you gain through broader experience,” Branch said.
“That said, Information Dominance is much bigger than just the Information Dominance Corps. Information Dominance is a capability, characterized as Assured C2, Battlespace Awareness, and Integrated Fires, that the Navy delivers. There are lots of people outside the IDC who contribute to delivering that capability. But we, the IDC, are the people who understand it best. Our role is to lead the rest of the Navy to understand and operate effectively in the information domain.
As I am sure that you have heard, CNO approved our plan to establish an Information Dominance Type Command. Rear Adm. Diane Webber is leading the effort to optimize Information Dominance manning, training, and equipping for the force under Fleet Forces Command. IOC will be 1 October 2014, and FOC 31 December 2014,” Branch said.
The Way Ahead
At the June Navy Information Dominance Leadership Symposium, Branch told the assembled audience of 120 active and reserve flag officers, captains, master chief petty officers and senior civilians that the ID Strategy (Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance 2013-2017) remains solid and that they should move out on executing its related objectives and priorities.
Focusing the symposium’s agenda on achieving a common understanding of the Navy’s priorities, challenges and programmatic efforts relative to Information Dominance, he directed pre- and post-Symposium polling on attendee understanding and acceptance of the Strategy and its associated pillars, as well as Information Dominance as a warfighting discipline, the role and value of the new type command, the IDC’s contribution to warfighting, and the value of cross-detailing within the IDC. A comparison of the polling reflected a markedly positive increase in attendee support for this new discipline. In closing the conference and summarizing the way ahead for the IDC, Branch charged the leaders, and the Corps, to “take the Navy into the information age of warfare.”
Vice Adm. Branch will be making a concerted effort to increase understanding of Information Dominance across the Navy, bringing his message to Sailors in fleet concentration areas and more remote locations at every opportunity.
To enhance information sharing and collaboration on topics related to Information Dominance, OPNAV N2/N6 has established a Navy Information Dominance page on milSuite. Readers can access the site at: https://www.milsuite.mil/book/groups/navy-information-dominance-outreach
for a variety of strategy documents, articles, and commentary on Information Dominance and related topics, such as cyber, intelligence, communications and networks, meteorology, oceanography, and space.