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CHIPS Articles: Uniting and Securing the Pacific Through Technology

Uniting and Securing the Pacific Through Technology
By U.S. Navy Adm. Walter Doran, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet - January-March 2003
Edited from a brief given by Adm. Doran at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2002, November 2002.

"Uniting and Securing the Pacific through Technology" is an appropriate theme, considering the vastness, diversity, and importance of the region. Earlier this year, while addressing the Diet in Tokyo, President Bush said that the success of the Pacific is essential to the entire world, and that he's convinced "the 21st century will be the Pacific century." That's quite an endorsement ... and, it highlights for us that a stable, united, and secure Pacific is in our, and the world's best interest. As the Pacific Fleet Commander, that is one of my primary tasks and I need the help of all of you to accomplish it.

Another important responsibility that I have is to organize, train and equip our Naval Forces for the Pacific Commander, in carrying out that responsibility, I depend on you again ... because we equip our Sailors with the systems and technology that you develop so that they can accomplish the mission. I'll discuss that mission and our current operations and touch upon the technology, developed by many of you, that enables Sailors to succeed ... then I'll describe our vision and goals for the future ... of which you are an increasingly important part.

We are a 310 ship Navy. Today, 161 of these ships are underway or away from their homeport, and of these, 115 are deployed ... more than half from the Pacific. The USS Abraham Lincoln is flying missions over Iraq enforcing the Southern No-Fly zone. The ships of her Battle Group are enforcing U.N. Sanctions against Iraq and hunting for terrorists on the high seas with our allies. The Belleau Wood Amphibious Ready Group is wrapping up her tour in the region supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and contingency operations, and is headed home via some well-deserved port visits. The USS Kitty Hawk, our forward-deployed carrier homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, recently completed Carrier Qualifications with her air wing and is a "full-up round" after a brief respite and a much-needed maintenance period. The Forward Deployed Naval Force truly remains the "Tip of the Spear" in the Western Pacific.

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group, also homeported in Japan, is ready for tasking and training hard. The Constellation Battle Group left San Diego almost three weeks ago en route to the war, and the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group is in the final stages of their training. The Carl Vinson Battle Group is also training hard and will deploy soon. No surprises here. This is what we do, and we do it better than any Navy in history. None of us know what the future will hold — but the Pacific Fleet will be ready if called.

This past year in support of the Global War on Terror, the Navy has deployed seven Carrier Battle Groups, five Amphibious Ready Groups, and more than 80,000 Sailors and Marines to Southwest Asia. Less than a month after September 11, our pilots were flying combat missions over 1,000 miles inland taking the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda with a 70 percent bombing effectiveness rate. This is a tribute to our outstanding Airmen and hardworking Sailors, and to you — the technical community — who develop the tools that help us do our jobs better and more efficiently.

Much has been said about our asymmetric scientific and technological advantage, and how we will use this advantage to continue to dominate the battlespace. Your work in the critical areas of communications, electronics, intelligence and information systems, is helping us win the war on terrorism, and will be critical as we continue the fight against a distributed, elusive and dangerous enemy. While we ARE winning, the war is far from over as demonstrated in Yemen, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere.

Thanks to you, our Sailors on the frontline have some extraordinary tools to accomplish their mission. Communications systems are more automated and much more reliable. Radioman have been transformed into Information Technicians. They manage a myriad of communications and Link systems including SHF, EHF SATCOM MDR, Link 16, Satellite Link 16 and multiple forms of old reliable Link 11.

In addition to being the first battle group to deploy the F/A-18 E/F and taking forward our Sea Swap initiative with USS Fletcher — the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group has brought the Joint Fires Network, a network-centric warfare system that enables real-time engagement of time critical targets. This capability will allow ships in a battle group to share real time targeting and intelligence data with each other, as well as with other warfighting assets in a joint or coalition task force.

Area Air Defense Commander capabilities also accompanied Lincoln to the fight, and next year's deployment of Nimitz Battle Group will introduce Cooperative Engagement Capability to the Pacific Fleet. Today, Collaboration at Sea and K-WEB are addressing the challenge that Naval Forces face in connecting a large group of worldwide users to a significant amount of information, in an environment of low bandwidth and intermittent connectivity.

Collaboration at Sea and K-WEB are addressing these issues through the use of three important tools: a standardized operational Web site for non-real time collaboration, chat capability for real time collaboration, and customized Web site replication to mitigate bandwidth limitations. In the past, Battle Group Commanders' fireside chats were conducted via a satellite command circuit — a Communications Officer's nightmare! Today, in many cases, they are conducted via chat room. Warfare Commanders have separate chat rooms to help manage the war, as do operators to share expertise and experience.

A Joint Task Force can now train via the Web ... In the Pacific Fleet, we have just demonstrated the value and efficiency of this innovative training tool. Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines, making up a standing Joint Task Force, can train through Web-based technology at their individual duty stations. Then, when called upon, can assemble as a JTF and carry out missions directed by the Pacific Commander. This is truly transformational and has great potential for use, not only here, but in every theater. We are also pushing the bandwidth envelope. Photos of suspected oil smugglers or terrorists are relayed back from the front where their profiles can be compared in worldwide databases.

Through Distance Support, ship technicians are reaching back to CONUS for help in troubleshooting and repairing casualties allowing ships to stay on station and minimize the expense of flying technicians to the theatre. There are many other examples. Advances in IT have taken the Navy into the 21st Century. We are breaking new ground with unmanned vehicles, shortening the timeline from sensor to shooter, and adding precision and lethality to our weapons.

But, as we all know, advancement and innovation does not come without challenges. One such challenge is bandwidth. Our new Arleigh Burke Aegis Destroyers, even with a Dual Inmarsat capability, are limited to 64 kilo bits per second, and [they] have multiple antenna blind zones to manage. Bandwidth allocation and management — Fleet and Battle Group-wide — is still a challenge, as is interoperability with our coalition, and in some cases, joint partners. The Coalition Wide Area Network is a success and being used extensively during Operation Enduring Freedom as a critical communications link with our coalition partners. However, COWAN has many restrictions making information sharing across the coalition often very, very difficult. We must get this right.

These are some of the nagging problems that Sailors work through daily. The future holds the solutions to these problems, because you will deliver them along with other advances and innovations not yet imagined. To achieve this goal — with your help and capability — we in uniform must share our vision of the future. I'm convinced the future is exciting for the U.S. Navy ... and while our focus remains unquestionably the Global War On Terrorism, we must plan and prepare for a dynamic and indeed an uncertain future. Today's strategic environment is far less stable than the era of the Cold War where we had predominantly one competitor and adversary — the former Soviet Union.

Today in the Pacific we face a multitude of threats from state and non-state actors magnified by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. To effectively deal with this destabilizing and dangerous threat, we must recapitalize our force, transform, and distribute our combat power. As defined by Adm. Clark, our CNO, Sea Power 21 is the blueprint for this change organized around three core operational concepts: Sea Strike (projecting precise, persistent, and decisive firepower globally from the sea), Sea Shield (projecting defensive power deep overland to protect our joint forces and ensure our access to the littoral), and Sea Basing (projecting operational independence for our joint forces from the sea).

The glue that binds these concepts together is ForceNet ... a concept that is being developed by Vice Adm. Dick Mayo and his crew at the new Naval Network Warfare Command. ForceNet, when fully developed, will integrate our ships, sensors and weapons into a networked combat force. The first step toward ForceNet is, in the near term, to network legacy systems and remove systems that can't be networked.

Sea Power 21 will be implemented by a Naval Global Concept of Operations that restructures our force and distributes our striking power. Tomorrow's force will be made up of Carrier and Expeditionary Strike Groups, Missile Defense Surface Action Groups, the Cruise Missile Nuclear Submarine and a faster, more capable, and more versatile combat logistics force — all networked together.

In fact, in the coming year, both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets will use deployers to experiment with the Expeditionary Strike Group [ESG - an amphibious ship with embarked Marine Expeditionary Units, a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate, an attack submarine and dedicated P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft] concept, it combines surface combatants and submarines with our Amphibious Ready Groups and gives us greater operational agility and offensive capability. The experiments look different on each coast ... In the Pacific we will add a Flag Officer in command with an operational staff ... this will give us an opportunity to compare and learn from two different approaches. We will also experiment with this concept early next year during Exercise Tandum Thrust.

Sea Power 21 supporting initiatives already in development are: Sea Trial (a fleet-led effort to identify and transition promising capabilities to our ships through aggressive experimentation), Sea Warrior (an innovative training and detailing approach to ensure our Sailors are given the right skills, and are detailed commensurate with these skills at the right time), and Sea Enterprise (a badly needed streamlining of our resource and acquisition process). In the development of ForceNet, clearly there is a role for the technology community — your intellect, and experience, at every step of the transformation process to make Sea Power 21 a reality.

It's going to be a fast and exciting ride and we will take it together. I will go further to say that your role in this process is absolutely vital. You are the source of our asymmetric advantage and the ones who, year after year, deliver our Sailors the tools to keep our nation safe.

Earlier this year, at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, the President said, "In this new war, we will rely upon the genius and creativity of the American people. Our scientific community is serving on the front lines of this war, by developing new technologies that will make America safer." He couldn't be more right and this is the charge for each and every one of you. I hope that I have given you an adequate picture of where the Navy is, where we are going, and how much we appreciate and depend on your service. We all have a great challenge ahead of us, and I am confident that together we will meet those challenges.

Adm. Walter F. Doran; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
Adm. Walter F. Doran; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Nov. 24, 2002 — EWS2 Sarah Lanoo operates a Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) console in the Combat Direction Center (CDC) aboard USS Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln is on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting combat operations in support of Operation Southern Watch. U.S. Navy photo by PH3 Patricia Totemeier.
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Nov. 24, 2002 — EWS2 Sarah Lanoo operates a Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) console in the Combat Direction Center (CDC) aboard USS Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln is on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting combat operations in support of Operation Southern Watch. U.S. Navy photo by PH3 Patricia Totemeier.
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