Vice Adm. Ted N. “Twig” Branch wears many hats as OPNAV N2N6. The admiral is on a series of speaking engagements enthusiastically engaging the fleet and members of the Information Warfare Community to talk about the way ahead for the IWC and to explain key tenets of the Chief of Naval Operations’ newest strategic document: A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority. It’s a campaign plan that CNO Adm. John Richardson wants everyone in the Navy to embrace — down to the deckplate, Branch said.
Vice Adm. Branch, who is also the Director of Naval Intelligence, Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer – Navy, Leader of the Navy’s Information Warfare Community and Director of Navy Cybersecurity, spoke to about 170 officer and enlisted personnel on Naval Station Norfolk, Feb. 3.
The first item Branch addressed was the name change for the Information Dominance Corps to the Information Warfare Community.
“We are not changing for change’s sake,” Branch said. “The bottom line is that the change is about warfighting.”
To CNO Adm. John Richardson “information dominance” denotes accomplishment — that we are finished, Branch said. “In warfighting we are never finished; there is always more we can do,” Branch said, and he pointed to electronic warfare maneuver as one warfighting area that needs expansion.
“The CNO has directed that we ‘double-down’ on the information domain and information warfare,” Branch said. “But the three warfighting pillars [for achieving information dominance] are enduring — assured command and control, battlespace awareness and integrated fires,” he said.
The concept of integrated fires was successfully tested in the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group last March with the first deployment of a Naval Integrate Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA)-capable CGS, Branch explained. Along with Aegis radar, NIFC-CA employs an E-2D Hawkeye aircraft as an airborne sensor to relay information to a ship from beyond its normal radar range.
Other unmanned sensors include the MQ-4C Triton long-range maritime patrol unmanned aerial vehicle and the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, Branch said. These UAVs, and others in development, are designed to prepare the battlespace.
A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority
Warfighting is the fundamental driver for Adm. John Richardson’s Design and represents initial steps along a future course to achieve the aims outlined in the Revised Cooperative Strategy for the 21st Century (CS-21R), Branch said.
New security challenges defined in the Design include Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and international terrorist groups, as well as the awareness that adversaries may be catching up to the technological edge that the United States has held since World War II.
America's success depends on our creativity, our entrepreneurism, and our access and relationships abroad, Branch said. The world has become dramatically more globalized — success is even more reliant on the U.S. Navy. The Navy needs to seize the potential afforded by this environment.
The CNO’s Design describes the strategic environment as three major interrelated global forces: the classic maritime space, expansion of the global information grid and rapid technology creation and adoption.
At the same time the budget remains flat, Branch said. Resources for the U.S. Navy and its allies and partners will remain constrained.
The scope and complexity of the challenges demand a different approach than that offered by a classic campaign plan, Branch explained. The CNO intends to continually assess the environment, test his hypotheses and make adjustments, adapting the Design to the threat environment.
Four core attributes serve as guiding criteria for decisions and actions, according to the Design: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness. Branch said the attributes boil down to trust in each other, decentralized command, and commanders able to execute their missions to the full extent of their authority.
Branch said Adm. Richardson places great importance on rapid learning, thus in the “Four Lines of Effort” described in the Design, Achieve High Velocity Learning at Every Level (learning-centered technologies, online gaming, optimize Navy intellectual enterprise), is No. 2; followed by: Strengthen Our Navy Team For The Future: We are one Navy Team (Sailors, Navy civilians and families); Expand and Strengthen Our Network of Partners (industry, agencies, allies and partners).
Strengthen Naval Power At And From [the] Sea is No. 1 and means maintaining a fleet that is trained and ready to operate and fight decisively – from the deep ocean to the littorals, from the sea floor to space, and in the information domain. While U.S. Fleet Forces Command has a great role to play in this area, Admiral Branch said that information warfare is ingrained in these initiatives and it is up to the IWC to inject the information warfare vision and demonstrate what it brings to the fleet.
A favorite book of Admiral Richardson’s is The High Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition (McGraw Hill, 2010) by MIT lecturer Steven Spear. Branch explained that the CNO is taking a more nuanced, business-like approach in implementing the Design.
CNO’s Design is fully aligned with CS-21R, Branch said. “There is more direct emphasis on projecting our national power around the globe, preventing and deterring wars, and less on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” he said.
“By 2020, the Navy will base approximately 60 percent of our ships and aircraft in the PACOM region,” Branch explained. For the IWC the emphasis on strengthening naval power is to ensure all domain access and “informationalized warfare,” he said.
Information Warfare Perspective
The IW Community has an important job in achieving the CNO’s objectives, Branch explained. To be aligned with the strategies outlined in the CNO’s Design, the IWC needs to develop new information warfighting concept of operations (CONOPS) and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
Branch explained the focus for the IWC will include:
-- Information warfare
-- Kinetic and non-kinetic weapon/defense
-- Development and experimentation with manned and unmanned vehicles
-- Expansion of the electromagnetic maneuver warfare concept to include space and cyberspace in partnership with the fleet
-- The warfighting pillars: assured C2, battlespace awareness and integrated fires.
OPNAV N2N6, along with Naval Information Forces, the IWC’s type command, intends to stand up an IWC warfare development center, Branch said. The goal is to infuse and integrate information domain and information warfighting concepts into the full range of fleet warfighting disciplines, he said.
Branch said the IWC will become a learning organization expanding the use of learning-centered technologies, online gaming and other tools. “We will increase investment in our most valued weapon system — our people.”
The training strategy includes the Sailor 2025 initiatives:
-- Recruit, grow, mature, mentor and retain the highest quality workforce
-- Strengthen and broaden leadership development programs across the board
-- Strengthen the role of Navy leaders in leading and managing civilian professionals key contributors to naval IWC capabilities.
One example of the emphasis on education is that training for Information Professional officers will increase from three weeks to 44 weeks, Branch said.
Each of these efforts aligns with the four lines of effort defined in the CNO’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority.
The admiral said that the IWC will grow and strengthen our network of partners and view "partnerships" as broadly as possible and deepen operational relationships with foreign partners, the intelligence community, joint services, interagency organizations, industry, contractors, academia, and research and development organizations.
“We will expand our ‘networks’ deliberately and with purpose,” Branch said.
Each of the four lines of effort is led by a three-star admiral, the admiral said.
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare
“The DCNO is the resource sponsor for information warfare directing $13 billion in acquisitions per year with over 200 programs,” Branch said.
As the IWC leader, the DCNO manages the talents of 52,000 personnel with other flag-level community leads.
As the Director of Naval Intelligence, Branch is the Secretary of the Navy’s designated lead as one of the 17 members of the National Intelligence Community.
In his role as the Deputy DON CIO – Navy and Director of Navy Cybersecurity, Branch is responsible for the Navy’s networks as well as the cybersecurity protection and defense of Navy networks and platforms.
“The Navy launched Task Force Cyber Awakening in 2014 based on the lessons learned from Operation Rolling Tide. It was a $600 million-dollar remediation effort to strengthen the defense of Navy networks and led to another realization that Navy platforms were also vulnerable to cyber intrusions,” Branch said.
As a result, the Navy made significant changes to how it is organized and how much it invests in cybersecurity, Branch explained. The Navy stood up the Navy Cybersecurity Division within N2N6 as an enduring organization that will continue the work begun by TFCA. One of the investment priorities derived from the TFCA effort was for the installation of control points which allow the Navy to segment or isolate portions of the network after a breach is detected. This allows for critical operations to continue.
The Admiral took questions after his brief, ranging from standing up a separate cybersecurity service to Russian aggression, to IWC management and training.
“It has been a six-year journey to get to information warfare from information dominance, more changes are coming to get us to where we want to be,” Branch said in response to a question about further changes within the IWC. “It’s important to hear what’s on your mind.”
The admiral presented another brief to students attending the IWC Basic Officer Course and the Mid-Career Course at the Information Warfare Training Center Virginia Beach, located at Naval Station Dam Neck in the afternoon. He also plans to “pulse the fleet” in a Town Hall in San Diego later this month.
Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor. She can be reached at