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CHIPS Articles: Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder

Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder
Chief of Naval Research and Director, Test and Evaluation and Technology Requirements
By CHIPS Magazine - January-March 2014
In July 2010, Rear Adm. Klunder reported as director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities Division, OPNAV N2/N6F2 following his assignment as the 83rd commandant of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

He received his bachelor's degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and his master’s degrees in Aerodynamics and Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee and strategic studies from the National War College. Klunder earned his wings of gold at Meridian, Miss., in September 1984. He has flown more than 45 different aircraft and accumulated 21 world flying records.

In November 2011, he became the 24th chief of naval research, with additional duties as director, Test and Evaluation and Technology Requirements in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N091).

As an executive branch agency within the Department of Defense, the Office of Naval Research supports the President's budget and provides technical advice to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy.

Q: The Navy is heavily dependent on advanced technologies; how do you work with the Deputy Chiefs of Naval Operations to develop advanced capabilities?

A: Bottom line: ONR delivers technology advantages to Sailors and Marines. That’s what we do. But before a new capability is put on a ship, before NAVSEA (Naval Systems Command) or NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) has a new program of record, before a prototype has been developed … ONR does the science to make new technologies possible. Sometimes that starts with a requirement from the warfighter that the DCNO’s champion and ONR responds to, or sometimes it comes from the creative application of a new discovery from one of our researchers.

In either case, this requires good communication with OPNAV, the acquisition community and the warfighter to develop an effective science and technology (S&T) investment portfolio for the Navy and Marine Corps. Some of these will pay off to meet current needs, some will develop new component technologies for acquisition programs, and some will become the next big thing that helps build the future force.

Q: CNO wants to increase the Navy’s ability to defeat anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilitie and to employ electronic warfare (EW) more effectively. Can you talk about what some of your top priorities are right now in meeting Adm. Greenert’s requirements?

A: There are a number of technology solutions we are pursuing to address A2/AD threats, but we are also working on critical new training systems to prepare the warfighter for this new frontier. First, we want the ability to dominate the EM (electromagnetic) spectrum. Our warfighters need the ability to use EW to counter a threat or confuse an adversary through deception of their surveillance and weapon sensors. In the broader sense, we envision the command and control of all electromagnetic sensors — comms, EW, and surveillance — to create a coherent common operating picture, common objectives, and common time-frame for execution. Consequently, we are investing in EW battlespace management, distributed EW operations, and intelligent, adaptive EW control, for example.

Second, mission effectiveness includes the warfighter having the right technology, but also having the right training to know how and when to use it. So, beyond the individual platforms and systems involved, we are developing realistic trainers and scenarios to support development of A2/AD concepts.

A number of ONR-funded technologies were recently integrated in a new training facility in Hawaii, the Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training & Testing Facility (FIST2FAC). This facility is very cost-effective and integrates live, virtual and complex scenarios to develop U.S. Navy, joint and multinational teamwork in A2/AD missions. It is getting a lot of positive feedback from the fleet. This past August, for example, they trained Sailors from a carrier, cruisers, and helicopters with operators in the loop addressing swarms of fast attack vessels and other A2/AD situations. We did this for a fraction of what is would cost to do in big ship or aircraft simulators.

Q: Adm. Greenert, like his predecessor Adm. Roughhead, views cyberspace as a critical warfighting domain. What is your view of the role of cyberspace as a warfighting domain and what is ONR doing to enable it?

A: Cyberattacks are real and make headlines almost every day. We have to address this to keep our networks secure, but let me also talk about the broader aspects of cyberspace and what we are doing to enable cyber as a real warfighting advantage. We have increasing access to large, diverse data sources, so we need access to the necessary computational power to process that information, meaningfully and give us greater understanding of the entire battlespace. We need the right information quickly to develop alternative courses of action with the ability to distribute data, and rapidly synchronize operations across forces.

Many of these processes have previously been done via chat and manual analysis, which are woefully inadequate to pick out the real signal from all the noise. ONR is developing technologies to increase automation, accuracy and analysis in cyberspace for better decision-making and give us the ability to out think and out maneuver our adversaries. If we can maintain a higher battlespace tempo, that gives us the advantage to set the pace and control the situation. Also, reducing errors and enabling more complex analyses will free personnel to focus on the execution of the mission.

Technologies we are pursuing include basic research in quantum computing, where one of our funded researchers, David Wineland, won the Nobel Prize in Physics last year. Also, we are developing dynamic communications and networking, secure identity management and authentication, information assurance and information operations techniques. Another example of technology we are developing with the Marine Corps is applicable to degraded-disconnected, intermittent and limited bandwidth (D-DIL) environments as can be expected in an A2/AD scenario. In this situation, assuring that the highest priority data is delivered first is critical. ONR has developed just such a dynamic tactical communications network and is working with PEO C4I to transition it.

Q: Cloud computing is a much discussed topic in both the commercial and defense communities. What would be the benefit to the Navy of this technology and is the Navy pursuing it? Is ONR engaged in research in this area and, if so, what are you doing?

A: Well, this conceptually is not much different from the iCloud service you have at home. In this case, the Naval Tactical Cloud will enable Sailors and Marines to access apps and data for their specific mission needs. So, from a broad standpoint, there are three benefits to cloud technology as I see it.

First, warfighting capability is enhanced by providing a more rich and diverse information environment for more accurate analysis and better decision-making. Today, many sensor systems have stove-piped or proprietary data which make information sharing difficult and expensive to do. When information is put into the cloud environment, it is normalized and eliminates this problem.

Second, today we have many individual systems that multiply the difficulty of securing data. However, in the cloud there is a single data environment, which allows us to improve security and concentrate security efforts on the cloud.

Third, the cloud environment provides a common infrastructure across all information systems replacing many smaller, individual ones. This reduces the costs of maintenance, training, and logistics for today’s many disparate systems. ONR is not specifically developing a new cloud architecture, but is leveraging the very large investment of the intelligence communities and the Army.

The Navy is augmenting the Army’s cloud environment to address the special needs of the Naval Forces. This is of particular concern in an A2/AD situation where we will have a highly distributed set of cloud environments supported only by tactical communications. For example, we are developing the ability, in a dynamic, distributed cloud environment, for each site to publish its data services and other sites to automatically discover and subscribe to these services. Then, whenever a warfighter needs particular information, his/her cloud environment can directly and automatically access it. This will significantly enhance mission effectiveness.

Q: You have said that ONR doesn’t want the old days of weapons development where a multimillion dollar system takes out a thousand-dollar incoming missile — instead, you want to reverse the paradigm to make the enemy spend big, while the U.S. retains the strategic advantage. How does ONR get on the right side of that equation?

A: The most important things are considering cost from the very beginning, and identifying technologies that break the cost paradigm. For example, directed energy, electromagnetic weapons and EW are current focus areas that hold great promise. If we can provide shipboard defense at pennies a shot with a high energy laser, and bring multimission capability with a low cost projectile out of an EM railgun , then we have truly changed the game.

These two systems have great promise as we move towards a Navy that leverages electric ship technologies. That is one big reason why the Secretary [of the Navy] is so focused on energy. Developing more efficient ships and systems allows us to design ships that can generate, store and distribute electricity for future lasers and railguns that will revolutionize our Navy.

Just as effectively, good EW can create an erroneous battlespace picture in the threat’s decision-making and command and control environments or, at least causing lack of confidence in their understanding of the battlespace is also an effective means of switching the paradigm. Information dominance is not just about making sense of large amounts of diverse information faster and more effectively, but also distorting the adversary’s understanding of the battlespace. ONR has promising work in this area.

Q: Can you talk about any breakthrough technologies that ONR is working on, for example, the Laser Weapon System (LaWS), nanotechnology, quantum information science?

A: LaWS is the high energy laser system at the heart of our Solid State Laser —Quick Reaction Capability program. We are upgrading the LaWS that we used to shoot down UAVs as part of BlackDart 2012 and deploying it on the USS Ponce in the Persian Gulf next summer. The deployment will mark the first delivery of a high energy laser system to the warfighter and will also give us a chance to learn lessons about ship integration and operating in a maritime environment.

Nanotechnology is an exciting research area that is enabling new concepts for applications to high speed electronics, and material science to make platforms lighter and stronger. Graphene is one such example, and ONR was proud to sponsor its discoverer, Dr. Andre Geim of the University of Manchester, which led to his receipt of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. [Through] its electronic and optical properties our research program on grapheme is seeking new small, low power, and lightweight electronics for a broad range of applications in autonomous vehicles, traditional platforms and even human borne computers. Several small businesses have resulted from the research in production of precise nanoscale electronic materials. Graphene and other carbon composites are making big improvements in reducing ship and aircraft weight, increasing range and their tactical performance.

In the area of quantum information science, our initial focus is on developing capability over operationally significant distances and operations. This ranges from fixed-site, line-of-sight networks to dynamic networks. The potential of quantum computing in computational power is orders of magnitude beyond our best super computers and this would enable much of what we have talked about in cyberspace to a degree that is hard to fully comprehend. The first likely application would be to ensure critical secure, tactical communications.

Q: Can you talk about ONR’s research approach and ability to attract and retain talented scientists?

A: For all the whiz-bang technology we work on, none of it happens without the great people who work at ONR and people we support. I like to say, “At ONR, we bet on the person” and support them to continuously produce breakthroughs over time. As you can imagine, recruiting scientists and engineers into the Naval S&T community is a high priority and we start early with ONR’s STEM programs to support interest from middle school, through high school, undergraduate programs and graduate studies. Not all of them join ONR, or the Naval Research Lab, and that’s OK because we know they are still contributing to our nation’s STEM shortfalls and may one day become an ONR-funded researcher at a company or university.

Let me also say something about the work our program officers do at ONR. Unlike any other federal S&T agency, we have all three funding lines: basic research, applied research and applied technology under one roof. So program officers can literally usher a good idea through from discovery to deployment. They can identify and cultivate breakthroughs in fundamental science, and apply those breakthroughs to a variety of applications and ultimately to prototyping new capabilities.

Many bright scientists and technologists find this very attractive. To foster this kind of activity, we try to create an environment that recognizes and rewards initiative and understands that not all innovative opportunities pan out. That’s OK. That is just the nature of S&T. I am proud to say that ONR continuously ranks No. 1 in the Navy for the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” survey.

Q: ONR began supporting NRL’s Marine Meteorology Division for development of an improved version of the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) to include the intensity of tropical cyclones to develop the COAMPS-TC. The COAMPS-TC has received a lot of press attention; can you talk about its importance?

A: Accuracy and reliability of weather prediction is a warfighting advantage. Oceanography and meteorology have been core research areas for ONR throughout its history. COAMPS TC is the latest advancement in weather models for tropical cyclone predictions. The big news for Navy leaders is that for the first time a dynamic model offers Navy forecasters more accurate predictions of a storm’s intensity and structure from one to five days out. That’s a big deal when we are trying to plan operations at sea; we want to know if the weather is going cooperate!

Navy officials rely on accurate weather models for a wide array of fleet operations, including planning and executing military operations, avoiding damage to assets, protecting or evacuating vulnerable installations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. So, keep in mind that Navy is not just interested in weather on America’s coasts, but weather around the world.

In fact, this year ONR’s research helped Navy replace its 20-year old global weather prediction system with an entirely new system called the Naval Global Environmental Model, NAVGEM. In combination with COAMPS TC, this provides Navy planners with a state-of-the-art prediction system for the fleet.

Office of Naval Research

Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.
Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.

CRYSTAL CITY, Va. (Jan. 15, 2014) - Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder speaks to attendees of the 26th annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium. Klunder spoke about up-and-coming warfighting technologies. This year's SNA Symposium focuses on "Surface Warfare-Warfighting First" and top Navy leadership will stress investing in Sailors and systems to ensure our continuing advantage; ensuring surface warfare remains the center of theNavy's ability to deliver prompt, sustained combat power over time; and training persistent, capable surface forces--the key to combat readiness and prevailing in conflict. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Hurt.
CRYSTAL CITY, Va. (Jan. 15, 2014) - Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder speaks to attendees of the 26th annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium. Klunder spoke about up-and-coming warfighting technologies. This year's SNA Symposium focuses on "Surface Warfare-Warfighting First" and top Navy leadership will stress investing in Sailors and systems to ensure our continuing advantage; ensuring surface warfare remains the center of theNavy's ability to deliver prompt, sustained combat power over time; and training persistent, capable surface forces--the key to combat readiness and prevailing in conflict. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean Hurt.
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