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CHIPS Articles: Serving at the Pointy End of the Spear in the Pacific

Serving at the Pointy End of the Spear in the Pacific
SPAWARSYSACTPAC scores high with strong leadership for mission success
By Joanne Newton, SSC San Diego Public Affairs - April-June 2008
As an organization under the command of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego, SPAWAR Systems Activity Pacific (SPAWARSYSACTPAC) provides electronics materiel and information technology support, planning, installation design, installation, maintenance engineering, training, technical guidance and assistance. This support is provided to all Naval and Marine Corps forces in Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific areas.

Leading such a demanding mission requires vision, unrelenting determination, diplomacy and expertise, and traditionally, SPAWARSYSACTPAC officers in charge (OIC) possess all those qualities and more. On Jan. 30, 2008, Cmdr. Andy Gibbons relieved Cmdr. Ben McNeal as OIC of SPAWARSYSFACPAC, Japan.

Guest speaker at the change of charge ceremony was SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. Mike Bachmann, and in attendance were Commander Task Forces 70 and 75 Rear Adm. Richard Wren, SSC San Diego Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Kohlheim, and new SPAWAR Systems Activity (SSA) Pacific Officer in Charge Capt. Miguel San Pedro.

Rear Adm. Bachmann said, "In Yokosuka, as well as in Sasebo, Okinawa and Seoul, the men and women of SPAWAR Systems Facility Pacific are on the front lines — literally at the pointy end of the spear. That which we in the headquarters and the PEOs (program executive offices) spend a great deal of time talking about, you are doing exceptionally well."

The admiral praised Cmdr. McNeal for his accomplishments, including the Far East production and seat migration efforts for the revitalized ONE-NET infrastructure installation plan. Cmdr. McNeal's efforts resulted in successful installation of more than $10 million of network infrastructure in more than 400 buildings, at nine Far East sites within Japan, Guam, Korea and Singapore.

More than 6,500 users migrated from legacy networks to ONE-NET, and 12 legacy networks were shut down with an annual cost savings of more than $5 million. ONE-NET, is the overseas Navy enterprise network, which is replacing most of the Navy's disparate mini-networks from London to Guam.

Rear Adm. Bachmann stated that Cmdr. Gibbons gained valuable experience as the Pacific Fleet installations manager for PEO Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) in San Diego. He also brings knowledge from a nine-month individual augmentee assignment in Iraq, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star while attached to Joint Crew Composite Squadron One.

Cmdr. Gibbons said that the lessons he learned and his experiences in Baghdad, Iraq, will shape his leadership and the mission of SPAWARSYSFAC Pacific and provide a better understanding of his responsibilities as the Japan OIC.

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to those who have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. Cmdr. Gibbons was awarded the Bronze Star due to his outstanding dedication to duty during combat operations in Iraq, which contributed to the overwhelming success of Joint Crew Composite Squadron One.

Cmdr. Gibbons said, "We will always ensure our focus remains on the warfighter. We will always bring to bear our experience, our skills, our resources, and our reach-back capability to equip the warfighter with the necessary command, control, communications, computers, collaboration [combat systems] and intelligence tools and information dominance to enable Commander Seventh Fleet to violently execute his operational strategy against any enemy who dares challenge us in this area of responsibility. We will never tire or fail to give our best in these efforts.

"With the guidance of the SPAWAR Command and Naval Sea Systems Command, we will continue to install, support and improve C5I systems that are programmatically mature and technologically superior, while being fiscally responsible."

TAGS: ITAM, Workforce
From left, Capt. Miguel San Pedro, Capt. Mark Kohlheim and Cmdr. Paul Herbert, outgoing SSA Pacific OIC.
From left, Capt. Miguel San Pedro, Capt. Mark Kohlheim and Cmdr. Paul Herbert, outgoing SSA Pacific OIC.

From left, Cmdr. Ben McNeal, SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. Mike Bachmann, Capt. Mark Kohlheim and Cmdr. Andy Gibbons, at the podium, speaking about his experiences in Iraq.
From left, Cmdr. Ben McNeal, SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. Mike Bachmann, Capt. Mark Kohlheim and Cmdr. Andy Gibbons, at the podium, speaking about his experiences in Iraq.
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