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CHIPS Articles: Interview with Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachmann

Interview with Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachmann
Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2006
Since February 2006, Rear Adm. Bachmann has focused on four key agenda items. CHIPS asked the admiral to assess SPAWAR's progress in each of these areas, shown below, and respond to how well the SPAWAR Systems Centers are doing in supporting his vision in September 2006. • Support the Naval NETWAR FORCEnet Enterprise (NNFE) and the Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM) to more effectively deliver FORCEnet capabilities to the fleet;
• Increase support and strengthen relationships with our program executive offices (PEOs);
• Move Team SPAWAR more toward competency alignment;
• Make Team SPAWAR as efficient and effective as possible.

Rear Adm. Bachmann responded to questions at the SPAWAR PMW 160 off-site in Norfolk, Va.

CHIPS: What capabilities do the SPAWAR Systems Centers bring to the naval fleet and forces?

Rear Adm. Bachmann: In science and technology (S&T) they bring a great skill set. We are working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to see if we can obtain more resources to invest in our people and in S&T. Our folks in the labs, both civilians and military, know what the problems are and where the gaps are.

As a result of the last ONR-sponsored Naval S&T Partnership Conference and some other off-sites, we are working with ONR to see if more of the available Navy funding can be aligned to S&T projects that can fill a capability gap for the Navy.

Research and development (R&D) is the other piece. Certainly most of that work is being done in San Diego and Charleston. The other big value I see with the systems centers that probably is not recognized is the teaming of our civilians and military. Charleston saw a need for a more equitable balance of military. We see it in the other three centers. In San Diego there is a good military, civilian, scientist and engineer relationship and that benefits the Navy. It is often overlooked, and it is a powerful paradigm. It benefits not only the fleet but the PEOs and their programs.

Another big piece is the ISEA. Most of the labs have an In-Service Engineering Agent function. The systems centers play a critical role in that area, and I expect that it is going to increase with the Navy's expanding emphasis on distance support as the primary vehicle for assisting the fleet in the future.

CHIPS: Will you reassign military members or request more billets?

Rear Adm. Bachmann: We are going to do a military billet review. It would have to be redistribution. With the recent Base Realignment and Closure we were mandated to establish an Atlantic command. It is going to represent the merger of Charleston and Norfolk. It will facilitate the movement of billets within those two primary systems centers.

Understanding how our valued teammates are employed and documenting their associated deliverables are critical, and we are embarked on that journey with OPNAV N1 at this time. Just recently we discovered that PEO Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) program office had a fielding group that was disestablished. As a result of cross systems center analysis we were able to temporarily continue fielding support for NSIPS by asking SPAWAR Systems Center Norfolk personnel to support this urgent requirement until more formal support mechanisms can be established.

CHIPS: Is support for the NNFE and NETWARCOM still a priority?

Rear Adm. Bachmann: Yes, and we are marching down the path to fulfill this support. We are totally embedded with NNFE. I am the chief operating officer, Rear Adm. William Rodriguez (SPAWAR Chief Engineer) is cross functional team (CFT-3) lead for modernization, Rear Adm. Timothy Flynn (SPAWAR Vice Commander) is the CFT-2 lead. He has just transferred to become the PEO EIS. Jeff Klein, SPAWAR’s installations and logistics lead, has jumped right into those shoes as CFT-2 lead. In every one of these areas we are making primary contributions.

I have advanced some ideas that folks are really jumping on, which will help us help the fleet. Without the NNFE, these are areas we may not have been able to go into because it was out of our lane. That is one of the advantages of working in the enterprise.

An area we are focused on is training a community of combat system officers. We have several different venues under way in parallel. One is the development of a command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) checklist that we will use as our matrix gauge in working with the combat systems officers, the electronics maintenance officers within the carrier strike group (CSG) and the expeditionary strike group (ESG) over the Fleet Response Plan (FRP).

Team SPAWAR historically has placed most of its attention on installs. But there is much more to support than just the install process. It is a critical linkage that ensures the basic integrated logistics support: the equipment is working, and it is supported properly initially. We have to work hand-in-hand with the CSGs and ESGs over the FRP cycle.

We have to remove variability in how they train, man and equip their respective ships to support C4I systems. Otherwise, we will run into the same thing I have seen in the seven months I have been here: every time a CSG or ESG comes back they have significant issues with their C4ISR systems.

The only way we are going to change that is by working with the fleet one-on-one through the FRP to make sure they recognize that we are here, that we are an ‘umbilical cord.’ They can reach out to us through single points of contact. We can work the system enterprise to serve them, whether it is in manpower, personnel or training and education of their enlisted and officer corps.

I want to see a repository for each CSG and ESG on their C4ISR preparedness over the FRP cycle. When we sit down as an enterprise at a debriefing, we can understand how successful we were in supporting them. Not just in crisis response over the cruise, but ensuring that their enlisted and their officers were at peak performance, and that they understood the systems and knew who to phone or send an e-mail to.

The second part is establishing readiness officers who are assigned to CSGs and ESGs. We are going through that process with Rear Adm. Rodriguez as the CFT lead. Those two things — the checklist and assigning readiness officers — will help us develop metrics that we can track for each of those deployers and use that as our interface with the Naval Aviation Enterprise, the Surface Warfare Enterprise and the Undersea Warfare Enterprise.

We have seen significant correlations between CSGs that have a higher emphasis on training. They appear to do better. We need to bring the readiness officers up to the same level and remove the variability that exists now in the maintenance and operations of C4ISR systems. One of my primary responsibilities to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is sustainability. We need razor focus from our PEOs and program offices on sustainment. We are supporting NNFE directly — and we are going to positively impact the fleet.

CFT-1 has done great work on their FORCEnet Capability Development Plan. We have a face-to-face this week and the FORCEnet Capability Development Plan will be reviewed. The folks put a lot of effort into it and it shows the requirements piece. How do we identify gaps? How does the fleet get them into a central repository? Where are the areas we need to focus on, and how do we use the POM process to address those shortfalls?

It encapsulates everything from experimentation to respective PEO/program office budgets that need to be influenced to satisfy or remove those gaps. Our support in the NNFE is paying dividends for both Team SPAWAR and the fleet. We have a way to go, but we have good people focused on improving operations.

CHIPS: Can you comment on increasing support for the PEOs?

Rear Adm. Bachmann: That includes JPEO JTRS, Joint Program Executive Officer Joint Tactical Radio System. We have already made sure we are providing him with the best support possible in contracting, financial and legal support. JTRS is a critical program for the Navy.

We have great relationships with PEO C4I, PEO Space Systems, JPEO JTRS and PEO EIS. As we migrate to competency-aligned organizations, the purpose is to make sure we are growing the talent that the PEOs need and then matrix those into the associated PEOs.

We have a POA&M, a Plan of Action and Milestones and timeline. It is fortuitous since Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Dr. Delores Etter recently directed all systems commands and PEOs to move to this construct. We are already on that course and have a POA&M that we can provide to her by Oct. 15. We are going to extend it to the folks who are matrixing to the PEOs and possibly even one step further to the NNFE.

CHIPS: What progress is there in making Team SPAWAR as competent, efficient and effective as possible?

Rear Adm. Bachmann: We have aligned Balanced Scorecards across the systems centers and with headquarters. We took the NNFE goals and contrasted them with Team SPAWAR’s goals to make sure we were in alignment with the enterprise. Lean Six Sigma efforts are in high gear. By fall, we project we will have 72 black belts and 400 or more green belts.

I recently attended the Secretary of the Navy and the CNO Lean Six Sigma kickoff for the Navy. Team SPAWAR is already embarked on this journey and is making great progress toward creating a more efficient and effective organization.

Lean Six Sigma is now a Navy primary focus area with mandates for POA&Ms within each of the systems commands. We brought Bob Kaminski, a black belt, on board and he is doing a stellar job with our teams and with the assistant secretary of the Navy’s staff. These programs team-wide are going to make us more efficient.

It is important that as we gain efficiencies that we also invest in our people and provide them with the tools that are going to make the team stronger. We should be focused on the new technologies that are emerging like service-oriented architectures and permitting them to go to school to get advanced degrees.

This is all a part of diversity and a focus on our people because they are our real resource. As we go into Program Review 09, we are working closely with OPNAV N1 Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education to look at our total force readiness. This includes our civilian workforce, military and contractor support services.

I am impressed with Team SPAWAR. SPAWAR Comptroller Steve Dunn and Tim Dowd and our contracting organization have done a superb job of documenting what our people do through our own reporting mechanisms. They have taken the time and attendance tool and mapped it against the work breakdown structure to show how our people are employed.

We owe it to the Department of the Navy to show how we apply our resources on behalf of the Navy for each of those three categories — military, civil service and contractor support services. When I came to SPAWAR, I wanted to make sure that we would map our accomplishments in these areas using the Malcolm Baldrige criteria.

We expend a lot of resources and a lot of effort in these areas — and we should be rewarded for that.

If you look at the Balanced Scorecard — people, customer, processes and financial resources — those are the same components that are integral to the Malcolm Baldrige criteria. That should be a long-term goal. I may not see it on my watch, but I want Team SPAWAR, our PEOs, systems centers and headquarters to be recognized for the skilled professional group that they are.

Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachmann
Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachmann
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