Military and civilian personnel are engaged globally across a wide spectrum of activities, from winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas, to building partnerships with other nations through joint exercises and training, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and noncombatant (civilian) evacuation in times of crisis.
Navy and Defense Department military and civilian personnel are valuable sources of knowledge, information and expertise. Their ideas and hard-earned experience can save lives, reduce costs, improve safety and increase productivity. In these instances, after-action reports following real-world events and exercises are an excellent way to preserve, reuse and build on the professional knowledge and experience of the naval force, said William Marshall, program manager for the Navy Lessons Learned Information System (NLLIS), at Navy Warfare Development Command.
NWDC, as the executive agent for NLLIS, manages the Navy Lessons Learned Program and NLLIS. The Navy Lessons Learned Information System is powered by the Joint Lessons Learned Information System (JLLIS) which is funded by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
NLLIS provides the tools that capture best practices and makes it easier to transfer learning and information, connecting a broad network of individuals and contributors across the Navy, and through JLLIS, an even broader community of users. The Navy, DoD and interagency partners can collaborate through JLLIS as well as NLLIS. For example, all the services, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, contribute to JLLIS, as well as the departments of Homeland Security and State, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Figures 1 and 2 show the NLLIS homepage and NLLIS homepage with sub-organizations displayed.
The U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Commander, Navy Installations Command are the most active unclassified users on NLLIS, according to Marshall. The military religious ministries have set up a community of interest on NLLIS and are prolific contributors; content is available to all fleet chaplains. For example, the International Security Assistance Force chaplains used information in NLLIS to plan for the annual observance of Ramadan last year, Marshall said.
What is NLLIS?
NLLIS is an online automated solution, part of the supporting implementation of the Joint Staff Chairman’s Joint Lessons Learned Program. NLLIS facilitates the development of key products to support discovery, validation, issue resolution processes, evaluation and dissemination. NLLIS (as well as JLLIS) is available in classified and unclassified versions. The classified version is also available through the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) explained Marshall during a demonstration of NLLIS at NWDC in February.
NLLIS is a comprehensive knowledge management system that collects, shares, tracks and manages Navy lessons learned to improve the development and readiness of the fleet.
Anyone with a DoD Common Access Card can access the information on NLLIS (or JLLIS) through a user-friendly self-registration process, Marshall said.
NLLIS was implemented in 2008, but has undergone a number of dramatic improvements in the last two years to enhance capabilities. Upgrades were designed for easier use, improving search features, navigation and enhanced display views.
Search capabilities and keyword filters were upgraded to return improved results, and data elements include doctrine, tasks and after action reports (AARs). Results are also now displayed by type, such as observations, port visits and AARs, Marshall said. Users can also search by command or author. Users can comment on the utility of the content and make recommendations for improvement. Author contact information is posted along with reports so users can engage directly with content authors. About a year ago a capability was added to link doctrine from lessons learned documents. The link to doctrine was an enhancement that former commander of NWDC Rear Adm. Terry Kraft pushed for and Marshall’s team worked very hard with the Joint Staff to implement.
Benefits of the NLLIS data integration effort include:
- Visibility and transparency of issues and lessons;
- Elimination of duplicate data entry;
- Enhanced data quality for reports: and
- Reduced manual entry.
Administrators and lesson managers can restrict visibility of selected documents to just their organization or an assigned group.
The homepage loads quickly and provides an attractive workspace in easy to read black text on a white background. Users can establish their own workspace under the My Stuff tab and create binders to personalize information around specific topics. Users can file information under: My Observations, My Issues, My Binders, My Documents/My Files, My Groups, My Saved Searches and My AARs. There is also a social dashboard and the homepage provides a Latest News Feature which lists the newest documents that have been published.
As an example of the information available, my first time logging in to NLLIS I read the Civil-Military Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response to Typhoon HAIYAN (YOLANDA) sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. This study was compiled by many contributors including those from the U.S. and international government and representatives of nongovernment organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and local and regional organizations involved in the relief effort.
A small group of fleet management site representatives (FMSR) located worldwide assist Marshall in collecting, analyzing and distributing observations and recommendations gleaned from operational planners and action officers after real-world events. FMSRs analyze data to ensure it is accurate before reports are published online, and they can also remove inappropriate content. Report templates allow users to cut and paste content and ensure that critical information is not lost, Marshall explained.
FMSRs are contractor personnel, with diverse naval backgrounds, embedded at U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet/U.S. 3rd Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/
U.S. 4th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, Command, 7th Fleet and U.S. Naval Central Forces Command/Commander, 5th Fleet.
Reports and briefs are routinely assembled and distributed to Navy and DoD leaders and planners in preparation for deployment by Marshall’s team. Information is provided in a push/pull model since personnel deploying may not know what they don’t know and the unexpected missions they may be required to perform. Marshall’s staff is very knowledgeable about the information available in NLLIS and intuitive in putting together comprehensive documentation that can contribute to mission success.
Recent noteworthy examples of assistance include assistance provided to the staff of the MV Cape Ray, which is on a mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and to the Navy in the deployment of the USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the U.S. 6th Fleet, and the Navy frigate USS Taylor to the Black Sea to be used if noncombatant evacuation was required during the Olympic games in Sochi.
Other examples of information run the full gamut of missions and include after action reports on exercises such as Bold Alligator and Joint Warrior, hurricane preparedness and response, fighting wildfires, Navy fleet weeks and the War of 1812 celebrations, and the U.S. Fleet Forces Improvement Program.
Knowledge gained from reports enables commanders and organizations to improve capabilities, techniques and processes to better perform assigned tasks and missions. Leveraging the experience, recommendations and observations of naval and joint forces enables leaders to better allocate resources and mitigate risks. Figure 3 is an example of an Observation Input Form. Figure 4 is a Port Visit Report Input Form.
Deployed Navy ships access NLLIS through Collaboration at Sea. CaS is a web-based application to post mission essential information to a large group of users with low bandwidth consumption. CaS is used by the “Five Eyes” community — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States to communicate and plan operations.
NLISS offers an online request for information (RFI) feature. Marshall and his staff respond to about 25 RFIs daily, he said. Most requests can be resolved within an hour or less while others may require a day or so for response.
There are about 5,000 active unclassified and 2,000 classified NLLIS users, Marshall said. Navy, DoD and interagency personnel, military or civilian, can access and input their observations into NLLIS. If your command or agency hasn’t set up a community yet, you can enter your observation under the larger Navy community, for example.
Ultimately, sharing lessons learned contributes to the formulation of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) solutions to enhance the overall effectiveness of naval forces, the joint force and mission readiness.
The NLLIS team encourages you to join the conversation and share your insights and ideas at the links below.
Navy Lessons Learned - https://www.jllis.mil/navy
Joint Lessons Learned NIPR - https://www.jllis.mil
Joint Lessons Learned SIPR - http://www.jllis.navy.smil.mil
Navy Warfare Development Command: https://www.nwdc.navy.mil/