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CHIPS Articles: SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. David H. Lewis

SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. David H. Lewis
The SPAWAR Enterprise is executing the most comprehensive and complex modernization of afloat C4I in its history
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2015
As the Navy’s Information Dominance systems command, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command develops, delivers and sustains communications and information capabilities for warfighters, keeping them connected anytime, anywhere.

With a space support activity, two system centers and through partnerships with three program executive offices, SPAWAR provides the hardware and software needed to execute Navy missions. As SPAWAR Commander, Rear Adm. David H. Lewis leads a global workforce of 9,700 civilian and military personnel who design, develop and deploy advanced communications and information capabilities.

Q: The Navy's Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems announced in March the launch of its Innovation Cell, an effort to begin rapidly inserting relevant commercial technologies into Navy networks without a single change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. The concept has generated a lot of interest in the Defense Department and industry. Can you describe how the Innovation Cell will spur innovation and a shorter acquisition timeline for purchasing IT products for the Navy?

A: It’s about bringing mature, commercial technology into Navy systems. Previously, the Navy tended to procure IT as it did a fifth-generation fighter jet; we used that process. But we are not building Mach IV missiles or fighter jets. This is an effort by PEO EIS to reach out to industry for commercially executable IT.

The Navy purchases very little IT that is military specific so we are able to take advantage of industry’s ability to innovate IT faster by bridging the gap between industry innovation and Navy Enterprise IT acquisition. We can’t maintain U.S. and naval superiority without reducing acquisition and deployment cycle times.

Reports from industry have been very good. So we will leverage commercial IT where it is technically appropriate to do so.

Q: You announced in March an important initiative that will greatly improve SPAWAR’s delivery of quality systems and services to the fleet. The SPAWAR Enterprise is executing the most comprehensive and complex modernization of afloat C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) "system of systems" in its history. Can you discuss what this initiative is and the organizations involved?

A: When the Navy upgraded its C4I systems in the past, it tended to do so as fast as possible [to get the ships back out to the fleet] without first establishing a common baseline. Now we want standard baselines in every install and to build in cybersecurity. We want to standardize more. This makes it easier for Sailors to better maintain and operate systems.

In the past, in the fleet, from ship to ship, each configuration was different; this made it hard on Sailors to maintain systems. Now C4I systems will be more predictable, more consistent across the fleet with programmed technical refresh that aligns budgets with system of systems builds.

Q: 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. You discussed it at length in your blog. Does the new maritime strategy affect the critical nature of the work SPAWAR does in support of the fleet?

A: I didn’t write the strategy, but I could have because it highlights the capabilities we support; reliable cyber warfighting capabilities, including communications and information systems, and the need for forces that are forward engaged and ready. We support all-domain access, a key seapower element, projecting military force in contested areas with sufficient freedom of action to operate effectively across the air, sea, land, space and cyberspace domains.

CS21 is a big change for us and has relevance to our workforce and in the fleet because it explicitly addresses this overarching all-domain warfighting access. It is critical to everything we do: battlespace awareness, assured C2, cyberspace operations, electromagnetic warfare (EMW), integrated fires

Q: The CNO is very concerned about the possibility of vulnerabilities in the DON’s “cyber platform" which extends beyond traditional IT to combat systems, combat support, HVAC systems, and more. OPNAV N2/N6, the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance, established Task Force Cyber Awakening to identify any shortcomings with the aim to establish an evolving framework for cyber resiliency. Does SPAWAR have a role to play in this effort?

A: The bottom line is that computers are a part of every system. Every computer has the potential to be a threat to the Navy, but this is not just a Navy issue, it is an “everybody” issue.

OPNAV stood up Task Force Cyber Awakening, not just for N2/N6 but across all sponsors and SYSCOMs (systems commands). This is an all-Navy approach for cybersecurity.

For SPAWAR, producing CYBERSAFE means we have a new toolset for cyber investments so the Navy can prioritize investment decisions.

We are writing cyber standards and configurations as the single-source technical agent for cyber products. In the cyber world there were no standards. If you are designing ordnance or hull, mechanical and electrical systems, there are processes and certifications that are required.

Now we are writing the architectures and promulgating the standards, with the other SYSCOMs, so when designers go to build a system there are structural standards. We have raised the game across the Navy, but the standards aren’t just specific to Navy. They are based on the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards.

CYBERSAFE products are having a significant impact on how systems can operate. Not every system is critical to the Navy but now there are explicit architectures and standards for the operational environment, and a basis for investment decisions.

Q: Can you talk Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) support, and how it will improve C4I, cyber and space system availability throughout the fleet?

A: The sustainment of C4I systems has been an area of concern of mine for some time. We have 63 Fleet Systems Engineering Teams (FSET) in the Fleet Readiness Directorate for casualty reports and crisis response to meet fleet demand and operational priorities.

One of the major initiatives coming out of the FRD is the culmination of a cross-SPAWAR Capability ISEA pilot to consolidate five SATCOM system ISEAs under one unified capability-based SATCOM ISEA to better deliver capabilities and align budgeting.

We are doing this in conjunction with NAVIDFOR, the TYCOM for the man, train and equipping of Information Dominance forces. We are aligning the FSETs, the SMEs for ship technical assists. Everything the FRD does is closely tied to man, train, equip… SPAWAR is the “face to the fleet” for C4I.

Rear Adm. [Matthew] Kohler, commander, Navy Information Dominance Forces, is enthusiastic and we are an enthusiastic supporter of what he is doing. We are doing this for better outcomes for fleet technical documentation and better trained Sailors.

This SATCOM ISEA organization will achieve initial operational capability in October this year and will allow us to fully leverage our precious fiscal resources, increase our breadth of SMEs across the SATCOM portfolio, allow for greater flexibility in ISEA execution of core sustainment tasking, and enable more proactive, agile and responsive support to the fleet.

Q: In January, PEO Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office (PMW 146) contributed to the successful launch of the third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite. MUOS already provides valuable, legacy communication to warfighters, but this third launch is a major step toward achieving a fully operational system by 2016. Can you talk about the significance of the MUOS constellation?

A: MUOS satellites are like cell towers in space, providing smartphone like service with the potential to connect tens of thousands of users who are stationary… driving, walking, on a Navy ship … all warfighters from all services.

Three satellites have launched, with the full MUOS suite to provide users a global, on-demand, beyond-line-of-sight capability to transmit and receive high-quality voice and mission data from a high-speed Internet Protocol-based system. MUOS-4 will be launched later this summer, which will be significant because it paves the way to complete Multiservice Operational Test and Evaluation by December 2015.

Right now, the Army and Navy are procuring the radios and ground stations to connect to the MUOS network.

Q: In January, two more companies were added to the five already approved to take part in the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program, a $2.5 billion, multi-year effort to upgrade ship-and-shore-based computer networks. Can you talk about the status of the CANES program?

A: The CANES program has 23 installations complete with 9 installations ongoing. CANES recent Gate 6 Review reflects the entrance criteria for the program’s Full Deployment Decision since this review was to receive Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition approval to proceed to FDD (full deployment decision) in June 2015. The procurement is on solid footing.

CANES is really a private cloud on a ship. The current technology is really proving itself and is a big improvement from the previous ISNS (Integrated Shipboard Network System) IT suite. Now we are on a regular drumbeat for two- to four-year technical refresh for software and hardware with a cyber-secure architecture.

Although CANES has had its challenges; we are at a critical tipping point in the fleet with CANES delivering benefits.

CANES creates a new Information Dominance operational posture by greatly reducing cybersecurity vulnerability risks, centralizing cyber protection operations and providing robust cyber situational awareness. It serves as the cyber platform for more than 200 applications and connected systems, including data, transport, systems management, and voice and video services.

The technology refresh cycle enables the fleet to respond to emerging cyber threats.

Q: Any closing thoughts to pass along?

A: This is both an exciting and challenging time for the Navy, especially now that cyberspace stands as a warfighting domain on par with the physical domains of land, sea, air and space. It’s incumbent upon us to provide cyber technical leadership and deliver on our promises as the Navy continues to integrate cyber as an essential component of fleet operations.

Rear Adm. David H. Lewis
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