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CHIPS Articles: IPs In Action

IPs In Action
By Lt. Cmdr. Danelle Barrett - January-March 2004
"We are the Navy's community of Information Warriors with expertise in information, command and control, and space systems. We own the Naval Network, the foundation of information dominance and successful execution of Naval, joint, allied and coalition operations. We plan, acquire, operate, maintain and secure the Naval Network and the systems that support Navy's operational and business processes to ensure they are reliable, available, survivable, and secure. We evaluate and integrate leading edge technologies, innovative concepts, and essential information elements to ensure a warfighting advantage. We will aggressively foster development and maturation of the skills needed to conduct network-centric operations, both afloat and ashore."-Information Professional Mission Statement

In July 2001, the Chief of Naval Operations formally announced the creation of the Information Professional (IP) Community (1600 restricted line designator) in NAVADMIN 182/01. With the help of the Fleet Commanders, the number of afloat and operational billets (where C4 expertise was most needed) was increased, a training and qualification program was implemented and a sense of community emerged among the newly formed cadre of IP officers.

A reserve counterpart (1605 designator) was added shortly thereafter. Semiannual lateral transition boards for active duty officers have grown the IP community to over 440 strong. These officers are playing important roles in billets heavily focused on operational C4 expertise and technological innovation. Below are just a few examples of IPs in action around the world, providing the warfighting advantage.

IPs at the Tip of the Spear in Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM

Lt. Cmdr. Angie Albergottie was recently forward deployed from March through August 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. While there, she put her extensive talents to work for the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) staff in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and postwar Iraq reconstruction. She provided a broad range of support services for a multinational, interservice coalition, as well as an interagency headquarters supporting a presidential envoy and the CPA administrator for the nation of Iraq.

Lt. Cmdr. Albergottie was appointed the Officer in Charge of the Intermediate Staging Base where she coordinated C4 support to the Joint Task Force. Additionally, she oversaw the requisition, configuration and installation of communications and computer equipment supporting a joint staff in combat operations that grew exponentially from a planned 250-person headquarters to well over 2,800 personnel, including 25 ambassadors, 16 flag officers and numerous presidential appointees. Despite the arduous environment, tenuous supply system and ever-changing priorities, Lt. Cmdr. Albergottie was instrumental in leading her joint team of 20 personnel. She ensured the Communications Support Office provided the timely and reliable support that enabled successful command and control of forces throughout the region. Lt. Cmdr. Albergottie laid the foundation for those who will follow her. Currently there are five other IP Officers assigned in Baghdad supporting CPA and JTF 7 Command and Control.

Cmdr. Jack Steiner, Cmdr. Pamela Wynfield, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Thrall, Lt. Cmdr. Suzanne Prose and Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hanson were five IP Officers who led the way in providing expert communications planning, direction and execution for afloat units participating in the OEF and OIF. While deployed in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean, they were instrumental in ensuring their commanders had the communications infrastructure in place to effectively command and control forces, and they coordinated critical reachback support for targeting via various communications channels. Innovation and resourcefulness characterized their efforts as they worked diligently to ensure small bandwidth disadvantaged units and coalition partners were able to effectively communicate within their respective groups.

During OIF, Cmdr. Steiner, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Force and Commander Task Force Six Zero (CTF 60) Communications Officer, conducted communications planning and resolved the day-to-day communication challenges of a two-carrier striking task force comprised of the Harry S. Truman and Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike groups. His orchestration of this effort required close coordination with Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hanson, the Communications Officer on Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Eight, Lt. Cmdr. Suzanne Prose of Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Two, communications planners at Commander Sixth Fleet (C6F), as well as with the critical shore communication nodes at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Stations Atlantic and Europe (NCTAMS LANT and NCTAMS EURCENT).

Cmdr. Steiner's innovative ideas led to dramatic improvements in operational capabilities for the strike group staffs. He coordinated with the staff and carrier intelligence teams onboard the USS Harry S. Truman to establish a Global Broadcast System (GBS) imagery delivery capability, which afforded the carrier a five-fold increase in available bandwidth for image delivery and enabled reutilization of bandwidth on other channels. Cmdr. Steiner's innovative leadership in C4 led to his selection as a 2003 Copernicus Award winner by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.

To support OIF, C6F, NCTAMS EURCENT, NCTAMS LANT and CTF 60 established a communication architecture which relied upon commercial and military satellite communications for network and telephone services, including SIPRNet chat and e-mail for tactical operations and coordination, and unclassified e-mail for embedded media support. Systems were used in new ways to increase command and control effectiveness. For example, Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hanson working with Cmdr. Wendy Bransom at NCTAMS LANT, successfully tested the use of the GBS within the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group for delivery of record message traffic. This capability is extremely important and can be used to eliminate backlogs and ensure timely delivery of operational orders for units in the GBS satellite footprints.

The GBS also served as the primary imagery delivery workhorse. Extremely High Frequency (EHF) MILSTAR satellite communications provided essential unit-level Tomahawk strike command and control. Connecting the multiple systems into a tactically reliable command and control infrastructure required close coordination among experts in multiple disciplines to work toward a common vision and architecture. These experts included Information Systems Technicians (ITs), Electronics Technicians (ETs), Operations Specialists (OSs), Intelligence Specialists (ISs), and their khaki leadership. Senior IT, IP, Limited Duty Officer and Intelligence personnel developed a command and control infrastructure, which they presented to the commanders. Once the commanders agreed upon the final architecture, the experts quickly put it in place.

The system was built around a theater-wide plug-and-play concept with resources allocated to meet mission needs within the theater. Key IP communication personnel, such as Cmdr. Steiner, Lt. Cmdr. Prose, Lt. Cmdr. Hanson, Cmdr. Wynfield, Lt. Cmdr. Thrall and others, coordinated daily to maintain the architecture, adapt to emergent changes and conduct long-range planning — always with a focus on task force mission execution.

As Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group One (CCDG1) Deputy N6 and Communications Officer, Cmdr. Pamela Wynfield and Lt. Cmdr. Mike Thrall, respectively, took the lead for West Coast strike groups deployed for OIF and OEF. Aboard the USS Constellation (CV-64), their C4 responsibilities as Carrier Strike Force and Commander Task Force Five Five (CTF 55) extended from the Red Sea through the Straits of Hormuz up into the northern Arabian Gulf, and eventually into Umm Qasr, the main southern port in Iraq.

The CTF 55 communicators led by Cmdr. Wynfield and Lt. Cmdr. Thrall, along with communicators in three other Carrier Strike Forces in CTF 50 (USS Lincoln, USS Kitty Hawk, and just prior to out-chopping the Gulf, the USS Nimitz) coordinated and executed detailed, in-depth communications plans. These plans included frequency deconfliction for hundreds of coalition aircraft and a C4 architecture for the CTF 55 ships and submarines that ensured sustainable, reliable, secure communications for their varied and complex missions.

Cmdr. Wynfield coordinated iterative development for Collaboration at Sea/Knowledge Web (CAS/KWEB) primarily for knowledge sharing and replication for afloat units. CAS/KWEB is used by hundreds of personnel and particularly operational staffs. CAS/KWEB makes use of an IP-based replication and synchronization method to share Web pages and manage daily operational reports among afloat units with limited and often times discontinuous bandwidth. She promoted the use of collaborative tools such as chat rooms for real-time and emergent battle group awareness, e-mail for one-on-one and small group interaction, and white boards for extensive near-real-time coordination to improve command and control of forces and daily operations.

Several of the IP Officers who played key roles during OIF and OEF were already forward deployed to the "tip of the spear" in Bahrain. These officers work in the Central Command theater (an area normally operating at a high operational tempo even when not at war) and found themselves additionally challenged during the most recent operations.

Capt. Treci Dimas, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Command, Control, Communications and Computers for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Commander U.S. Fifth Fleet, and her staff (Lt. Cmdr. Laura Yambrick, Information Systems Division Officer; Lt. Cmdr. Murry Carter, Director, Bahrain Information Technology Service Center; and Lt. Cmdr. (s) Jody Grady, Automated Information Systems Plans Officer), along with Cmdr. Diane Webber and Lt. Cmdr. Yvonne Norton, Commanding Officer and Executive Officer, respectively, of U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Bahrain, were instrumental in delivering the communications services required to sustain both land and sea-based operations for the thousands of deployed Sailors, Soldiers and Marines.

This support included day-to-day C4 services and direction for the forward deployed U.S. Naval forces, along with coordinated C4 support to ground mobile forces, Special Operations Forces and coalition partners from several nations. Again, as with the IP Officers who were afloat, teamwork was the hallmark of their work and the key to their success. They continue to find innovative ways to deliver more capacity to the warfighter and make lasting improvements to the overall C4 architecture in the region.

All of these IP Officers emphasized that the key to communication success in OIF and OEF was due to the superior teamwork between the many afloat and ashore C4 professionals. The leadership and technical proficiency of the IP Officers profiled here, along with the willingness of the commanders who rely on their communications expertise, were instrumental in achieving an unprecedented level of C4 excellence in operations.

IPs at the Forefront of Innovation — Task Force Web

Several IP Officers have had the unique opportunity to be a part of Task Force Web, a Vice Chief of Naval Operations special project, to develop and implement a Web-Services architecture for the Navy. Capt. Skip Hiser, Capt. Maureen Copelof, Cmdr. Tina Swallow, Cmdr. John Hearne and Lt. Jon Kaltwasser have been in the forefront working with industry leaders, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), academia, and joint/coalition partners to develop and implement a Web-Services architecture that will revolutionize the way data are used, transferred and shared. For their efforts Task Force Web was named one of the Department of the Navy's eGov winners for Fall 2003 for "Building the Web Enabled Navy (WEN), an excellent example of a transformational initiative contributing to business and mission improvement and effective information exchange."

Key components of their architecture rely on the use of data sharing and reuse, open standards and vendor-neutral interfaces. The result will be a shift in focus from providing "systems" to improving functionality, interoperability, data reliability, security and speed to support the warfighter. Lt. Kaltwasser, the newest IP of the group, has been able to parlay his operational experience afloat into providing a technology solution that works across the Navy enterprise, both afloat and ashore. His expertise, coupled with his extensive computer science and networking background, made him an ideal choice for finding solutions for some of the Navy's toughest technological challenges, and put him at the forefront of IP innovators for the Navy.

IPs Breaking New Ground for Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo

Lt. Cmdr. Kristine Modlish was recently deployed to Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo, the Balkans, as the Kosovo Forces (KFOR) Headquarters J6 Communications and Information Systems (CIS) Coordination Center Chief. In this position, she is responsible for all operational and tactical CIS systems within the KFOR area of responsibility, in addition to managing several CIS plans and projects. These systems run the gamut from Very High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency secure voice/data, secure/unsecure mobile and fixed telephone systems, secure/unsecure Local Area and Wide Area Networks, SHF satellite links, video teleconferencing and all terrestrial long haul communications.

Lt. Cmdr. Modlish's experience in working closely with the C4 professionals of other Services and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Partnership for Peace (PfP) countries gives her unique insights into ways in which the strengths of each can be leveraged for the benefit of all. Lt. Cmdr. Modlish is another example of how the IP Community is breaking new ground in areas where their skills add value to joint, allied and coalition operations.

IP Officer Provides Communications Support to the President

Lt. Cmdr. Julie La Point is assigned to the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) providing direct C4 support daily to the President and other key members of the Executive Office and First Family. IP Officers are perfect candidates for duty at WHCA where officers are challenged to "think on their feet." They must be problem solvers, negotiators and troubleshooters with expertise in a wide range of digital and analog communications and computer systems.

Assigned to the command as a Battle Captain in WHCA's state-of-the-art operations center, Lt. Cmdr. La Point leads a joint watch team that monitors and supports all Presidential and Vice Presidential communications teams as they deploy worldwide. She also travels as an Event Presidential Communications Officer. Her small team of highly qualified and motivated Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen arrive in advance of the President and set up "Presidential Quality" expeditionary communications at any location, whether it is a convention center, factory or disaster area (such as Richmond, Va., after Hurricane Isabel or San Diego, Calif., during the October 2003 fires).

The IP Community has come a long way since its inception just two short years ago. The vision of the Navy's senior leaders for a cadre of highly skilled and operationally savvy C4 experts is evident in the profiles here and the hundreds of other IP Officers at work in the fleet today. These examples are representative of the strong engagement of IP Officers at work in Navy, joint and coalition environments. The role of the IP Officer will continue to grow and mature as the needs of the Navy for technological innovation, information dominance and network-centric operations evolve. The IP Community will be on the forefront of shaping the future and enabling a true warfighting advantage.

Lt. Cmdr. Danelle Barrett is an Information Professional Officer assigned to Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Eight.

Afloat Information Professional (IP) Officer Knowledge Management Training

As a result of the efforts of several IP Officers who attended the IP Summit 2003 held in Monterey, Calif., a pilot course was held for IP Officers going to Afloat Knowledge Management (KM) billets. This course was held in Norfolk, Va., November 19-21, 2003. Although most of the officers attending the course were en route to KM afloat billets, some were already in the job, and they provided valuable insight to what KM means to the fleet.

The two-day course covered KM theory, best practices and the tools available in the fleet today, such as KWEB and Collaboration at Sea. There were also presentations from representatives from Task Force Web, Fleet Forces Command, Commander Second Fleet, Center for Naval Analysis and the Naval Post Graduate School. A highlight of the course was a half-day ship visit for discussions with recently deployed strike group staff members.

Plans are underway to conduct the course (with modified improvements) again this spring in San Diego, and look at the possibility of adding it to the pipeline for IP Officers going to afloat billets.

In the CCDG1 war room on CV-64 in the Arabian Gulf, March 2003 (left to right), Capt. Mitch Schwecker, CCDG1 N6; IT2 Darryl Goodloe, CCDG1 Knowledge Management and Coalition Comms. Technician; ITCS Rick Shute, CDS7 C4I Officer; Stacey Minor, FSET representative; Cmdr. Pamela Wynfield, CCDG1 Deputy N6 and Knowledge Manager; Cmdr. Mike Daly, CV-64 CIC Officer; ITCM Paul Sigmon, CCDG1 Asst. Comms. Officer; Ensign Keith Berens, CV-64 CMS Officer; Lt. Cmdr. Gary Myers, CV-64 Combat Information Systems Officer.
In the CCDG1 war room on CV-64 in the Arabian Gulf, March 2003 (left to right), Capt. Mitch Schwecker, CCDG1 N6; IT2 Darryl Goodloe, CCDG1 Knowledge Management and Coalition Comms. Technician; ITCS Rick Shute, CDS7 C4I Officer; Stacey Minor, FSET representative; Cmdr. Pamela Wynfield, CCDG1 Deputy N6 and Knowledge Manager; Cmdr. Mike Daly, CV-64 CIC Officer; ITCM Paul Sigmon, CCDG1 Asst. Comms. Officer; Ensign Keith Berens, CV-64 CMS Officer; Lt. Cmdr. Gary Myers, CV-64 Combat Information Systems Officer.

Cmdr. Jack Steiner
Cmdr. Jack Steiner

Lt. Cmdr. Suzanne Prose aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73) going through the Suez Canal.
Lt. Cmdr. Suzanne Prose aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73) going through the Suez Canal.

Front row, left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Laura Yambrick, Cmdr. Diane Webber and Capt. Treci Dimas. Back row, left to right: Lt. Cmdr. (s) Jody Grady, Lt. Cmdr. Murry Carter and Lt. Cmdr. Yvonne Norton.
Front row, left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Laura Yambrick, Cmdr. Diane Webber and Capt. Treci Dimas. Back row, left to right: Lt. Cmdr. (s) Jody Grady, Lt. Cmdr. Murry Carter and Lt. Cmdr. Yvonne Norton.

From left to right: Capt. Skip Hiser, Cmdr. Tina Swallow and Lt. Jon Kaltwasser of Task Force Web.
From left to right: Capt. Skip Hiser, Cmdr. Tina Swallow and Lt. Jon Kaltwasser of Task Force Web.

Lt. Cmdr. Kristine Modlish inspects the KFOR VHF Command Net antenna site at Pec, Kosovo.
Lt. Cmdr. Kristine Modlish inspects the KFOR VHF Command Net antenna site at Pec, Kosovo.

Lt. Cmdr. Julie La Point.
Lt. Cmdr. Julie La Point.
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