Conversations surrounding cybersecurity, innovation and support to the warfighter echoed through the Information Warfare (IW) pavilion at this year's Sea-Air-Space (SAS) Exposition, April 3-5.
Within the pavilion itself, attendees and exhibitors were able to speak with engineers, researchers, developers and subject matter experts regarding some of the newest technology and concepts playing a role in military IW operations.
Cryptologic Technician Networks 2nd Class Michael Suarez, assigned to Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group (NCWDG), explained how SAS provided an opportunity to showcase his command's mission and role in cyber readiness.
"Navy Cyber Warfare Develop Group is the research and development component for 10th Fleet [Cyber Command]," said Suarez. "People came to our booth asking questions about NCWDG because many do not even know that the command exists [because we are still fairly new]. For expo attendees to see us here and interact with us, I think, allowed them to understand that we have a team of [cyber warfare engineers] who are capable to handle software solutions for government entities. This proves a win for everyone."
Suarez continued to emphasize the significance of NCWDG for the warfighter.
"We bring the research side to the fight," said Suarez. "NCWDG is my first command in the Navy, but I have witnessed our leadership proactively speaking with operational leaders [so that they can] better understand and determine what development means for the overall Navy. We want to best meet the needs of the Navy and support the cyber domain."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bryan Juntunen, assigned to Program Enterprise Office (PEO) Space Systems in the PMW 146 program office, showcased the Mobile Unit Objective System (MUOS) and nanosatellites within the IW pavilion. He also discussed the evolution of the MUOS-nanosatellites conversation at SAS over the last few years.
"This is my third year at Sea-Air-Space," said Juntunen. "The MUOS demonstrations and engagement have grown over the years. People are not asking 'what is MUOS,' but more poignant questions like, 'when is it going to be ready' and 'when can we use it.' These questions are more specific which identifies that people have a better education of the system capabilities [and purpose]."
Juntunen highlighted the significance of his position within the PMW 146 program office, as well as what it means to be an Army officer supporting the Navy IW mission.
"MUOS and nanosatellites do not just support Navy operations, but all military," said Juntunen. "I am an Army functional area space operations officer. And it's been very rewarding because [I am the assistant program manager for End-to-End integration]. As a 'user representative' I am critical in helping interpret requirements between the operational forces and acquisition forces. I help the acquisition folks understand operational concepts and how people are going to use the system, and also the operational folks understand what we are bringing them as far as the technical pieces, how to get it and how to use it."
Paul Baggerly, a system engineer with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Pacific, supports Distributed Common Ground Station-Navy (DCGS-N) Family of Systems (FoS) with a focus on the Intelligence Carry-On Program (ICOP). Baggerly explained that ICOP is the unit level of DCGS-N that goes on destroyers, cruisers and amphibious landing transport dock ships. ICOP has also been used on U.S. Coast Guard cutters and the U.S. Marine Corps is evaluating the system's use in field operations.
"ICOP satisfies all the requirements in one box," said Baggerly. "The success of this system within the fleet [stems from] the intelligence data fused into one three-dimensional (3D) visualization display. This gives the warfighter, the intel analyst, the ability to help drive operations and provides them with a clear, clean picture. By ICOP showing everything in 3D, watchstanders have what they need to make operational decisions and reports. For example, take a route where a ship is going to go like the Strait of Hormuz. [ICOP allows users to] identify past and present threats and provides overall situational awareness."
Baggerly discussed how SAS provided necessary conversation with industry, as well as Sailors and fleet-wide leadership.
"Based on comments from industry here at Sea-Air-Space, who visited the Navy Information pavilion, they applaud the way ICOP saves money and provides training modules for users," said Baggerly. "SSC Pacific is trying to show that 'speed to fleet' is possible by working to develop and produce systems that are needed for the warfighter in six months [or even quicker]. ICOP has shown the acquisition world that capability can be provided [in a condensed timeline] and not get lost in the acquisition loop holes. Our DCGS-N teams go on the ships and 'live with the fleet' to maintain awareness of how to best serve Sailors. We have open dialogue to better understand their critical intel needs."
During leadership panels at the expo, IW leadership discussed the importance of providing systems that best support operators on ships and in the fight, as well as encouraging conversation throughout all ranks about cyber resiliency and readiness.
Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (OPNAV N2N6), explained that one strategy for reducing cyber vulnerabilities and mitigating threats is by building a culture of cyber accountability across the fleet in a way that we hold individuals accountable for their actions and behaviors in cyberspace and on the networks.
"We have been building a culture of accountability," said Tighe. "By providing a commander of a destroyer, for example, with tools to understand risks to her mission based on cyber vulnerabilities, we empower her to make decisions and drive culture within her own command. She is able to quantify those vulnerabilities that her crew is able to remediate and also seek solutions from the [type commands] or [system commands] when appropriate. Cybersecurity is an all hands on deck mission."
The Sea-Air-Space Exposition is an annual event hosted by the United States Navy League. This year, more than 100 flag officers, senior executive leaders and official representatives from 68 countries, including six top international Navy leaders participated in the event. An estimated 11,500 visitors participated in three days of seminars and demonstrations by more than 290 exhibiting companies and organizations. The exposition gave sea service leadership the opportunity to directly interact with industry representatives to discuss and debate maritime interests and concerns.