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CHIPS Articles: Interview with David W. Weddel

Interview with David W. Weddel
Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6)
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2011
David W. Weddel is a former naval officer. He served as the commanding officer of USS Gary (FFG 51) and as assistant chief of staff for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I), the N6, for U.S. 7th Fleet, among other assignments. He left active service in 2000.

In November 2009, the Office of Naval Operations (N6) merged with OPNAV N2 forming N2/N6, the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (DCNO) for Information Dominance. Mr. Weddel was appointed as the assistant DCNO for Information Dominance. In this role he has been tasked to assist in leading the Navy into the information age. Working with Mr. Weddel are seven flag officers, five Senior Executive Service members and the N2/N6 staff who manage a portfolio of 140 programs of just under $12.4 billion per year.

CHIPS asked Mr. Weddel to discuss N2/N6 initiatives, including deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles; he responded in writing in March.

CHIPS:You discussed unmanned systems and vehicles at the West conference in January, and indicated the Navy is accelerating the development of UAVs, including a carrier-based combat UAV. Is there any specific threat driving this urgency?

Weddel: While there are no specific threats that are driving the acceleration of development, the Navy remains committed to the aggressive development of a carrier-based UAV to enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability and persistence that the Navy can provide around the globe, especially to locations where basing rights are not permitted.

CHIPS: Some have said that experimentation and testing are more important than ever with defense budgets so tight. Is there a firm schedule for testing and deploying UAVs?

Weddel: Yes, experimentation and testing are critical elements in the development of UAV systems, not the least of which are efforts to ensure cost savings and efficiency. A number of UAV systems are being tested, and experiments are ongoing in order to meet the objectives of effectively and efficiently integrating these emerging technologies.

The Navy uses laboratory technical development and integrated phased quantitative risk assessments to ensure timely deployment and operational success. An example of this process is the testing and experimentation that is being conducted for VTUAV (vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle) integration with the Littoral Combat Ship program. Navy also continues to work with the Joint Unmanned Aircraft System Center of Excellence to ensure lessons learned from the joint environment are incorporated into Navy systems development.

Our Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial System is deployed and currently supports naval forces at sea and ashore. The MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is currently deployed aboard USS Halyburton (FFG 40), and an upcoming land-based Fire Scout deployment will provide testing and additional operational data, which we can use to improve this system.

Our Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D) is currently deployed to the Central Command area of responsibility. Navy is learning a great deal from these ongoing operational tests which will directly impact our emergent UASs, resulting in improved system capability and development as we evolve to [the] MQ-4C BAMS program of record, which will achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in 2016.

The Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) just completed the first set of flight tests last week (Feb. 4) at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The lessons learned and technology gained from UCAS-D will be incorporated into the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program of record.

CHIPS: Traditionally, carrier wings have been skeptical about integrating UAVs into operations. Has the Navy been testing this concept in exercises, experiments or modeling and simulation?

Weddel: In the Navy's ISR 'family of systems' approach to information dominance, the vision is a mix of manned and unmanned platforms to meet the information needs of commanders and leaders. While our first carrier and Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator is not yet an operational system, the Navy is postured to use lessons learned from UCAS-D flight testing for the development and integration of future operational unmanned systems aboard aircraft carriers.

Modeling and simulation is being used as part of the UCAS-D engineering development process. The Navy is using King Air and F/A-18D aircraft as surrogates to test many of the UCAS-D guidance and control interfaces. The F/A-18D tests will include closed-loop autopilot software performance that progresses to fully coupled approaches to touchdown. Initial surrogate testing will be aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) and is scheduled to begin this spring.

CHIPS: What stage of development are the UCLASS and BAMS programs in?

Weddel: UCLASS is a pre-Milestone A system, with the initial capability document (ICD) entered into Joint Staffing for validation by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. After validation, the ICD will proceed to a material development decision at the Defense Advisory Board.

The BAMS program is in engineering and manufacturing development (post Milestone B), and successfully completed critical design review (CDR) this past February. Component testing is underway and initial developmental aircraft are in production. The next major program milestone is Milestone C, scheduled for mid-2013.

CHIPS: Is the Navy working on how it will analyze and distribute the sensor data from unmanned systems in tandem with the development of UAVs?

Weddel: The Navy recognizes the inherent requirement to enhance legacy processes, procedures and capabilities within the tasking, collection, processing, exploitation and dissemination (TCPED) continuum. As such, we have begun a concerted effort to review how each Navy ISR sensor-platform combination currently conducts, or plans to conduct, TCPED operations. This study will highlight how material and nonmaterial improvements can be combined with a Navywide TCPED end-to-end enterprise designed and constructed to optimally support U.S. and coalition operations with specific focus on the maritime domain.

Notably, the continual improvement in information technology has created significant opportunities to innovate all aspects of the TCPED cycle — from the collection and indexing of individual data points — to the final delivery of comprehensive knowledge to commanders, within the necessary timeline to achieve desired effects.

As an example, cloud computing technologies are one key area under consideration to enable the Navy to recognize and react to current and emerging threats swiftly and decisively. Cloud computing capabilities can be employed by operators and analysts to more effectively perform TCPED operations in direct support of the tactical edge, while simultaneously delivering Navywide efficiencies.

We recognize the importance of approaching this issue from a holistic perspective that employs realistic systems engineering concepts to produce an end-to-end solution that accounts for the 'wholeness' of ISR operations. This analysis will include the need to deliver information across security and classification boundaries to individual personnel, as well as more traditional operational watch centers.

CHIPS: In January, Vice Adm. Dorsett said that the Navy has been "out of balance" and needs to concentrate more effort on the "non-kinetic, information side of the house." Can you discuss what the admiral means by this?

Weddel: We are in a new era where globalization and the convergence of computer and telecommunication networks have transformed the information environment from an enabling capability to a core warfighting capability.

As Admiral Dorsett described recently when speaking of the shift from an industrial age military force to an information age force, 'It's now time for the Navy and, frankly, the U.S. joint forces to step up and start dealing with information in a much more sophisticated manner than they have in the past.'

These new concepts in warfighting are creating opportunities to enhance Navy’s contribution to national security, but we must fully integrate information, intelligence, command and control, and cyber capability, and wield it as a 'main battery,' transitioning to an information-centric force. This concept and its instantiation is the non-kinetic warfighting domain.

In the past, the Navy has invested in sensors, weapons and control systems, but suboptimized their overall effectiveness through an architecture that welded them to a single platform. This legacy platform-centric approach unacceptably increases our operational risk as we continue to evolve in the information age. We are addressing these gaps by decoupling, both programmatically and functionally, platform-sensor weapon artifacts and reconfiguring them as distributed, adaptively networked enterprise capabilities.

One of the returns on the investment to reorganize as an information dominance directorate has been the increased opportunity to explore and support non-kinetic operations. Our (N2/N6) Cyber, Sensors and Electronic Warfare Division is doing just that as we mature our thinking and developmental efforts with stakeholders across the Navy and throughout DoD.

CHIPS: The stand up of N2/N6 and the reorganization of cyber within the Navy demanded a cultural shift in how the Navy views information. How would you assess progress thus far?

Weddel: Over the last year we made significant progress in revolutionizing cyber warfare and changing how the Navy views information.

The reorganization is largely complete, and I am pleased with the cultural shift that is well underway. We are changing the culture within our own ranks with the implementation of the Information Dominance Corps.

This professional community of over 44,000 personnel has just completed its first year of standup and, with great support of Navy senior leadership, is developing and maturing the personnel side of information dominance. We have also made cyber a priority in our budgeting process where it is a recognized element in achieving superiority across the full spectrum of naval operations.

The establishment of Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet was one of the first steps in changing Navy's understanding of cyber operations. Tenth Fleet's relationships continue to mature with U.S. Strategic Command and the operational management of Navy cyber operations.

Cyber defense is critically important and certainly is part of the Navy culture. It is an all-hands effort. We are elevating the magnitude of cyber security through the development of a robust network inspection and certification process. The formal network inspections will be conducted across the Navy to enforce accountability and shift fundamental behaviors of how our forces operate, maintain and interact with our networks.

Global standardization of network assets is critical to assuring command and control of forces and warfighting systems. We continue to evolve from static, reactive network operations, to a capability that provides proactive, predictive and dynamic operations.

While we have made tremendous strides over the past year, our work is far from over. The pace at which we are advancing is and will remain demanding. We are a global maritime force, and we recognize that we as a service must advance our capability to plan and execute in cyberspace.

CHIPS: Vice Adm. Dorsett has set targets for information technology streamlining initiatives in regard to enterprise licensing, virtualization and reduction in data centers. Does the Navy have a data consolidation strategy and a plan for reducing servers and data centers?

Weddel: Vice Adm. Dorsett, in his role as the Deputy Chief Information Officer (Navy), has tasked the Navy to develop its data center consolidation and enterprise licensing strategies. This strategy will detail consolidation plans to ensure that the Navy is gaining efficiencies relative to enterprise licensing, virtualization and data center consolidation.

We are utilizing the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, combined with the direction and guidance within NAVADMIN 008/11 (Navy Information Management Information Technology Efficiencies), to guide and develop that strategy.

We are teaming with the Department of [the] Navy Chief Information Officer to address individual focus areas in the department's 'DON IT/Cyberspace Efficiency Initiatives and Realignment Tasking' effort. Members of our staff are actively involved and are serving as the Navy leads for several of these initiatives. We also remain engaged with OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and the DoD Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which intends to reduce the number of data centers across the federal government.

CHIPS: Reaping the benefits of enterprise licensing is ripe for cost savings, but there is a lot of confusion in the Navy about the differences in licensing models, and many commands purchased licenses for applications that are already available on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. How can the Navy reduce the confusion and help commands meet the Navy’s IT cost-saving goals?

Weddel: A centralized solution to enterprise software licensing (ESL) will reduce the confusion and help commands meet the Navy's IT cost-saving goals. DON CIO, the Program Executive Office [for] Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), U.S. Marine Corps, and OPNAV N2/N6 are all working together to establish more rigorous and streamlined ESL policies and procedures.

The 20 December DON CIO memo, DON IT/Cyberspace Efficiency Initiatives and Realignment Tasking, designated the Marine Corps as the DON enterprise software licensing lead. We are actively participating in the DON ESL working group that will address plans to centralize the procurement and management of DON software licenses, support license allocation and tracking, and enable cost recovery for the enterprise.

CHIPS: Anything else you would like to add?

Weddel: With the vision and active support of the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, and the leadership of Vice Adm. Dorsett, we have made great strides in elevating information as a warfare area within the Navy. But there are great challenges ahead.

All our systems and programs are geared toward one goal — providing our Navy and joint warfighters the information they need, at the time they need it, to make the critical decisions they have to make in support of our forces and our nation. With the standup of the Information Dominance Corps, we are bringing our greatest resource, our people, to bear on the challenges we face. I'm confident we will be up to the task.

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David Weddel
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2011) The Center for Information Dominance has become the first nonoperational shore command approved for the newly created Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialty pin. U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols.
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