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CHIPS Articles: Interview with Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

Interview with Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2009
Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. is the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6) and the Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Navy).

A Naval Academy graduate and naval flight officer, Vice Adm. Harris was selected for the Navy's Harvard/Tufts Program. He attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, graduating in 1992 with a Master of Public Administration degree. Selected as an Arthur S. Moreau Scholar, he studied international relations at Oxford and Georgetown universities, earning a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the latter in 1994. While at Georgetown, he was a Fellow in the School of Foreign Service. He is also an MIT Seminar XXI Fellow.

Vice Adm. Harris has logged 4,400 flight hours, including more than 400 combat hours, in U.S. and foreign maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. He assumed his present duties as OPNAV N6 in June 2008. Previous command tours include: Patrol Squadron (VP) 46, Task Force 57/72 and Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

N6 serves as the principal adviser to the CNO for all communication networks and is matrixed with N2 for ISR and N3/5 for Information Operations (IO) and command and control (C2). As the Navy's CIO, Vice Adm. Harris ensures optimum use of Navy information technology/information management (IT/IM) resources.

N6 includes N6F – Warfare Integration, N60/62 – Programming and Fiscal Management and N61 – Capability Analysis and Assessment. CHIPS spoke with Vice Adm. Harris in January about N6's top priorities.

CHIPS: One of the reasons for the stand up of N6 was to gain better visibility into how IT money is spent across the Navy, reduce legacy networks, and invest in more efficient models like service oriented architecture. Can you talk about progress made in this area?

Vice Adm. Harris: We are making good progress in the area of cost visibility. We are doing that in three different ways, with three different methodologies.

First, there is CARS, an acronym that stands for Cyber Asset Reduction and Security. This is an effort to reduce our legacy networks. One of the biggest hurdles to a secure network environment is legacy networks. We have reduced our number of legacy networks from over 1,000 to less than 500.

We have had success with CARS, but we have a long way to go. We want to get that 500 down to less than 200. This is an area of focus for us. Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk is responsible for executing CARS. They have a CARS team whose goal is to get us down below 200 networks by 2010. They are on the right glide scope to do that.

The second initiative we have is an Echelon II Command IT Budget Stewardship Review. You may have known it by its former name, 'Capture the Money.' We are trying to establish total IT cost visibility and accountability. How IT money is spent used to be a mystery. Our goal is to eliminate the mystery and make things transparent.

We want to look at execution budget reviews and identify where the money is being spent and recommend realignment of funding that is not executed in compliance with statutes, directives and guidance. We have done a couple of these so far, and we have had some good success. To date, we have been able to realign $100 million in IT funds across a number of commands. That is significant, that is real money.

The last area we call the ITMC, the IT Management Council. This is an effort to consolidate IT decision-making and governance. The CARS team goes after security, the budget stewardship review process goes after money, and the ITMC goes after centralized decision-making and governance.

The ITMC is chaired by the Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the Department of the Navy Deputy Chief Information Officer (Navy…that's me). It is comprised of executive leadership from each of the OPNAV N-codes as well as Fleet Forces Command; NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command); NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command); Navy Installations Command; NAVFAC (Naval Facilities Engineering Command); SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command); NAVSUP (Naval Supply Systems Command); and Naval Network Warfare Command.

There are also executive advisers and those include the DON CIO, Mr. Robert Carey; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Mr. Sean Stackley; and the Marine Corps DDCIO, Brig. Gen. George Allen, director, C4/CIO. We feel that the ITMC is working, and it serves as a single senior Navy IT decision forum necessary to help us achieve the NNE, the Naval Networking Environment. We are happy about that in the IT Management Council, and we are using it as a tool to get our arms around governance.

CHIPS: What else do you hope to accomplish in your time as N6?

Vice Adm. Harris: I have already talked about governance, security, our decision superiority, and a move toward the NNE, or the Naval Networking Environment. Our challenge is — how do you deliver decision superiority?

I define that as delivering knowledge, information, intelligence, data and orders, and how you do that virtually, instantaneously against 21st century cyber threats and to the warfighter and back in a fiscally constrained environment.

If we had unlimited resources we could achieve unlimited things. The challenge is to achieve great things with limited resources. In order to do that, we need to achieve a true NNE, or Naval Networking Environment. That's going to take a commitment from everyone, not just the N6, to get it right.

We no longer have the resources to develop or field what I call stovepipe network solutions. Our NNE concept is the right move to get our networks in line and integrated for the future.

While I am the N6, I intend to make a focused effort to bring policy, budget, resources and accountability into alignment to establish an effective enterprise approach into the way we do business and deliver those cyber capabilities that our warfighters on the pointy end say they need to execute their mission.

It is really about the warfighters at the end of the day. That is why we are making this effort to get it right.

CHIPS: The Navy is also hampered by legacy business systems. Does N6 have an interest in replacing these systems with Navy Enterprise Resource Planning?

Vice Adm. Harris: The short answer to that is yes, but I will give you a longer answer. We do have an interest in Navy ERP. I believe that it is a major step toward transformation of our business processes in the Navy. It will lead to a modern standardized and interconnected Navy enterprise operation.

This will give us financial transparency, asset visibility and business process effectiveness and efficiency to support our warfighters. That is what ERP is all about at the end of the day. ERP Release 1.0 provides functionality in financial operations as well as program management, materials management and supply chain management.

We are doing this in phases. We started with NAVAIR in 2007. In October 2008, we instantiated ERP at NAVSUP. Later in 2009, we start ERP with SPAWAR. We do NAVSEA starting in 2010 and Working Capital Fund activities in 2011.

While ERP is tremendous, it is simply a tool, albeit a high-performing one, with a lot of potential. The use of this tool by folks that know what they are doing, and knowledgeable and motivated users, can get us where we want to go.

There are two parts, the tool itself, and the people who operate it. They are both equally important.

CHIPS: N6 is directly involved in Next Generation Enterprise Network planning. Can you talk about NGEN?

Vice Adm. Harris: NGEN is part of a larger Department of the Navy effort to create a true net-centric operation across all of our networks. NGEN is the follow-on to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. With NGEN, we hope to get improved government control and improved flexibility and agility in the way we operate the network.

This is not a criticism of NMCI. NGEN is just the next phase, or level, where we improve and increase our ability to control our own networks. NGEN is going to be the foundation of the NNE. The goal is more adaptability, more reliability and more security to give us more government control and oversight in direct support of the naval warfighter.

N6 and Headquarters Marine Corps C4, along with support from Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), Center for Naval Analyses, Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM) and various other naval organizations, developed the requirements document. N6 serves as the resource sponsor.

There is now a separate organization in the Navy called the ACNO for NGEN. That person, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for NGEN, leads the System Program Office, the SPO for NGEN. It is a separate office outside N6 on the horizontal line with the other OPNAV N-codes. This brings focus and talent to make NGEN a real thing. CNO has named a two-star admiral to run the SPO, to be the ACNO NGEN, Rear Adm. Bill Goodwin.

CHIPS: Will PEO EIS execute the acquisition?

Vice Adm. Harris: That's a good question. Yes, Rear Adm. 'Grunt' Smith, the new PEO EIS, is responsible for the acquisition.

CHIPS: In 2007, the Secretary of the Navy directed the Navy to demonstrate Maritime Domain Awareness capability in a year. Can you talk about the progress made in MDA technology and doctrine?

Vice Adm. Harris: Maritime Domain Awareness is a big deal. We have accomplished a number of milestones leading up to the present. Just last August we achieved what the Secretary of the Navy directed us to go after — Spiral 1 completion across all the nodes.

The next thing is that the Navy completed a CBA, a capabilities-based assessment, on MDA. The CBA looked at where the Navy's gaps are and how we conduct MDA and offered up a couple of solutions that will allow us to bridge those gaps.

The R3B, the Resources and Requirements Review Board, chaired by N8, approved the findings of the CBA last month. The R3B acknowledged that MDA is more than a material piece — it is people, training, and all of the other parts of the enterprise.

OPNAV N3/5 (Information, Plans and Strategy) has the overall lead for MDA for Navy. N3/5 will be working with the fleet on how we will update our MDA strategy. N6 and N2 are the primary resource sponsors.

CHIPS: The war on terror highlighted the need to provide robust, high-speed data exchanges with coalition forces. Can you discuss improvements made to the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System–Maritime.

Vice Adm. Harris: CENTRIXS is the core piece that we use to communicate with the coalition. We are pressing ahead to improve the robustness, reliability and speed of how we exchange data with our coalition partners in classified and unclassified domains.

We are using CENTRIX-M, the maritime version/variant, today in a wide range of operations around the world, from antipiracy operations off the Horn of Africa to bilateral missile defense testing operations in the Western Pacific, and opportunities in South America, the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

As N6, we fund the Navy's Pacific Region Network Operations Center, PRNOC, in Hawaii, to expand those contingency capabilities. We are pleased with how we are moving forward with CENTRIXS. CENTRIXS is just one part of the overall puzzle, but it is an important piece as we move to improve our communications with our coalition partners.

CHIPS: With the push to consolidate networks, implement new technologies and communicate globally with allies, partners and nongovernmental organizations, how is the Navy handling the bandwidth requirements which must be increasing?

Vice Adm. Harris: We are using the CBSP, the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program, to increase our bandwidth. In 2007, some folks with a good idea conceived it as our Navy's next generation commercial satellite capability. We needed something to replace the leased Commercial Wideband SATCOM Program and INMARSAT-Bravo.

Compared to INMARSAT, it [CBSP] gives us significant improvements. INMARSAT is in the low kilobyte range, 64 to 128 kilobytes. CBSP provides up to 3 megabytes of data transfer.

Initially, when you put it on some of the small platforms, which desperately need something like this, such as our mine countermeasure ships, frigates and coastal patrol boats, they are going to get about three and a half times what they get now. That is significant. I am jazzed up about CBSP. I think it is a good deal.

CHIPS: Can you talk about Information Operations?

Vice Adm. Harris: Part of my tasking from CNO is to look at IO. As we look at the CNO's guidance for 2009, our ability to achieve decision superiority is essential in operating at all levels of war.

Broadly speaking, in Information Operations, we in N6 are going to focus on three different areas. First, we are working hard to bring high IO capabilities to the warfighter in cyberspace. These things in the Naval Networking Environment that I keep talking about are critical to achieving decision superiority.

In the IO mission area of computer network operations, CNO, and the element of computer network defense, or CND, are essential to protecting Navy networks and operating establishments.

Secondly, our IO portfolio must provide asymmetric capabilities to meet maritime challenges. We are developing strong ties to the BMD, Ballistic Missile Defense, antisubmarine warfare, ASW, and irregular warfare programs. We need to be able to meet adversaries with asymmetric capabilities including electronic warfare and computer network operations.

Lastly, we are working hard on future capabilities. Looking forward is as important as refining and polishing where we are today. So let me talk about CANES, the Navy's Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services program. It is essential for what we are trying to do in the NNE.

CANES will reduce our physical IT infrastructure on ships. We want to consolidate afloat network infrastructure and core services for the Navy to better operate with our other forces and our own command and control.

We want to speed effort to catch the current wave of technology. That includes service oriented architectures, enterprise solutions, innovative security approaches and state-of-the-shelf hardware.

At the end of the day, we are going to have four elements of the NNE. NGEN will be the biggest and most visible piece because it will affect everyone in the continental U.S.

We will have CANES interoperable on all of our ships. We will have BLII, Base Level Information Infrastructure, or ONE-NET, our overseas network. Then we will have a few legacy networks that we have excepted from the CARS program. CARS goes from more than 1,000 legacy networks today to less than 500 — and ultimately to less than 200.

The four pillars of the NNE are: CANES; NGEN; BLII ONE-NET and those 'excepted networks.' CANES is the shipboard piece.

CHIPS: What do you mean by excepted networks?

Vice Adm. Harris: Those legacy networks that will not be part of NGEN. Today, we would say that they are not part of NMCI. For example, if you were to e-mail me and put my name in with the Navy dot-mil domain, the @navy.mil is the key that this is an NMCI address in the NMCI domain.

If you are working in the medical profession and you e-mail to someone @bumed.navy.mil, BUMED is a clue that there are other domains. BUMED, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, is on a different legacy network. It will probably be an excepted legacy network because the BUMED network carries personal data related to medical and health.

We have an obligation to protect those excepted legacy networks against 21st century cyber threats which is why they will be 'excepted legacy' and included into the NNE.

Sharon, let me conclude this interview with an interesting point. We [N6] are only a part of the Navy's IT picture. The NNFE, the Naval NETWAR FORCEnet Enterprise, is an enterprise approach to how we govern IT in the Navy writ large.

There are three cornerstones of that enterprise: the Navy's OPNAV N6 (that's me), the Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, commanded by Vice Adm. Denby Starling, and SPAWAR, commanded by Rear Adm. Michael Bachmann, form the NNFE.

I don't do anything without coordinating with the other two corners of the enterprise. The three corners of the enterprise look at the operational piece, the engineering piece and the financial piece — in other words — what we do, how we do it, and how we pay for it.

It is a team effort; IT is a team sport. We are in this together, and we will move forward together.

Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.
Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

OPNAV N6 Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. speaking in a panel discussion about cyber challenges at West 2009 in San Diego in February. West is cosponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. Photo courtesy of AFCEA International.
OPNAV N6 Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. speaking in a panel discussion about cyber challenges at West 2009 in San Diego in February. West is cosponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. Photo courtesy of AFCEA International.
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