WEST 2017, the premier naval conference and exposition on the West Coast, kicked off at the San Diego Convention Center, Feb. 21.
This three-day conference, now in its 27th year, brings military and industry leaders together in a single locale to encourage discussion with the makers of platforms and the designers of technologies impacting the warfighter and information domain. WEST is co-sponsored by Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International and the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) will host the Navy Information Warfare (IW) pavilion throughout the conference, showcasing some of the most recent efforts to improve cybersecurity and technology in the fleet.
Rear Adm. David Lewis, SPAWAR Commander, emphasizes that SPAWAR supplies several scientists and engineers at WEST in order to fully demonstrate and explain new technologies and initiatives being developed for the warfighter.
"This is only the second time in WEST's history where the Navy Information Warfare community is featured on the exposition floor," said Lewis. "SPAWAR develops, delivers and sustains advanced cyber capabilities for our warfighters, which directly impacts the IW mission. We are at the forefront of research, engineering and acquisition, and we are proud to say that we actively work to keep our forces connected around the globe. WEST is one of our best opportunities this year for SPAWAR to showcase the outstanding efforts of our employees, military and civilian alike."
The IW mission area encompasses networks, systems, organizations and people who provide capabilities the Navy needs to fight and win within the information domain. This domain focuses on the electromagnetic spectrum, space and cyberspace, in addition to the traditional Navy focus areas of surface, subsurface, air and land.
Richard Jick, a lead engineer and project director, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, explained the importance of showcasing new capabilities during WEST, like the Maritime Tactical Command and Control, to not only military and industry leaders, but the Sailors who will eventually operate these systems on ships.
“WEST provides an avenue to expose a capability and gain feedback,” said Jick. “Executive-level military leadership, deckplate Sailors and industry partners collaborate [together during WEST] generating valuable discussion.”
The IW pavilion demonstrates the Navy's commitment to warfighting in the information age through the use of speakers, panels, subject matter experts and capability displays from organizations including the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2N6), Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Navy Information Forces Command, SPAWAR and others.
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Anthony Cociffi, a Sailor assigned to the future USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), attended WEST to gain a new perspective on evolving and advanced military technology.
“This is my first WEST and I’m excited to see what all is being developed and designed,” said Cociffi. “Personally being assigned to DDG 1001, our ship is all about automation. We have a smaller crew size, but our ship will perform [certain mission areas] better due to new technologies. Seeing everything today, I realize even more what our world and our Navy has to offer.”
Cociffi had an opportunity to explore the IW pavilion and try SPAWAR’s unified gunnery system augmented reality (GunnAR) helmet cultivated by SPAWAR scientists in their Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) laboratory.
“The GunnAR is a great trainer,” said Cociffi. “I went through security reaction force alpha and bravo training and there is a similar trainer available, but nothing like what I experienced today. Trainers like this not only save a lot of money because no rounds are expended, but are a lot of fun too.”
Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, N2N6 and director of naval intelligence, expressed that the IW pavilion creates a platform for necessary conversation.
“This year at WEST, we are building on what we have done in the past,” said Tighe. “This is a great opportunity for industry and military leaders to come together and learn more about information warfare.”
WEST 2017 is scheduled to conclude Feb. 23.
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