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West 2013 Coverage

Futurist Calls for U.S. Navy to Go Global to the Public

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy could offer a Google-type information service to the world by organizing its diverse data in a form that would serve individuals, businesses and people. This would place the Navy in the realm of geospatial information system (GIS) providers whose services are sweeping the globe.

This brand innovation challenge was offered by John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Speaking to the Wednesday keynote luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, Smart suggested that the Navy could become an agent of change by organizing data collected by its numerous sensor systems and making it available to the public at large.

The service would be built around the concept of open, safe, lawful and sustainable seas for all people, Smart said. The Navy would create a public GIS map of the oceans and populate it with vital information—all unclassified—that would be useful for anyone entering the maritime environment.

This product would comprise grid maps bearing information fed by Navy-run sensors. It would be improved as new means of collecting data generated more expansive information. The Navy would design the information architecture for the system and maintain it as a global public service.

Innovation Is Evolutionary, Not Directed

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Change is coming, and it will define its arrival despite best efforts to manage it. As much as 95 percent of change is evolutionary in that it comes from the bottom up. Innovation is happening constantly, and everyone must pay attention to it.

John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, offered those strategic outlooks in the Wednesday keynote luncheon at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. A series of technologies are driving change, and people and organizations must pay attention to those long-term changes.

The top two drivers of change are information technology and nanoscience/nanotechnology, Smart offered. These two will have revolutionary effects that will touch on all corners of society. Other drivers include resource technology, engineering technology and health technology. In some cases, innovation will be cross-pollinated among these drivers.

Smart cited as an example Google Glass, which will equip people with eyeglass-borne cameras that will record whatever they see. People will use this without thinking where it might lead, and innovations in the use of the imagery will have far-reaching effects. He noted that Gmail effectively has turned every customer into a life blogger, as every piece of email ever sent over Gmail has been archived for whatever purposes may lie ahead.

Connectivity to Become Truly Global

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

By 2040, 2 billion children will be learning to speak English through the use of wrist-borne personal computers that will display translations and accompanying imagery to their users. In effect, these 2 billion will become employable in a range of professions in the Western world.

That far-reaching forecast was delivered by John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, in the keynote luncheon at AFCEA/USNI West 2013. Smart cited this case as an example of how change is happening constantly, and people must prepare for it rather than try to outlast it.

The driver for this development will be Google distributing wrist PCs worldwide. As a result, these children will be connected with one another and with all others who are networked, one way or another. For example, they will be able to sit for interviews wherever they are located, but interviewers must assume that these are “open book” interviews in which the networked person has access to whatever information he or she needs.

This ubiquitous networking will spawn network groups of individuals who will develop groupthought as information cells. This will affect mental illness and treatment, as sufferers can be connected to “normal” people who would help them reorient their thinking. This could have negative effects as well, Smart warned, citing the al Qaida cell in Hamburg that hatched the 9/11 attack plans as a result of their personal networking.

Systems in the Pipeline Offer Innovative Effects

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

A handful of military technologies could have revolutionary effects on the force beyond those already anticipated, according to a panel of experts. Speaking to the audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, these military and civilian officials emphasized the need for innovation for the force in times of fiscal shortfalls.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., USMC, Marine Corps representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review, offered that the MV-22 Osprey “will have profound effects in the Pacific.” This aircraft is changing the way that Marines operate from the sea, and more changes will come.

The F-35b fighter aircraft also will be a game changer. Having a vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft will introduce a vital capability, the general offered.

Systems that enable better management of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) may be key to warfighting, said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, USN, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command. The ability to manage ISR is all the more important “when the first person who sees the other will have a significant advantage,” he allowed.

The Navy remains open to innovation, said Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, USN, chief of naval research/director, innovation, technology requirements and test and evaluation. “We know there is no golden bb,” he said, “but if you bring me that secret sauce [innovative item], I’ve got time for that.

“A large portion of my budget is seed corn, and I throw that everywhere,” he declared.

Military Organizational Culture Fights Innovation

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The military needs innovation more than ever, but it is less equipped to take advantage of it by nature of its structure. Overcoming that institutional inertia will be absolutely essential for the military to meet its mission needs against the backdrop of severe budget cuts.

The importance of defense innovation was the focus of a Wednesday morning panel discussion at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, USN, commander of the Navy Warfare Development Command, set the tone for his fellow panelists when he pointed out that large organizations find it difficult to embrace innovation, as they prefer stability to change.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., USMC, Marine Corps representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review, allowed that military organizations are hierarchal—and hierarchal organizations tend to punish those who challenge the hierarchy, such as innovators. He added that people innovate when they feel threatened. The Marine Corps constantly feels threatened organizationally, so it often turns to innovation.

Adm. Kraft noted that the military used to drive innovation. Now that role is performed by the private sector. The admiral called for making innovation a culture that will empower change.

Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, USN, chief of naval research/director, innovation, technology requirements and test and evaluation, called for using innovation to turn the tables on adversaries. The days of developing multimillion-dollar systems to counter adversaries with inexpensive asymmetric systems are gone, he posited. Instead, the U.S. military should counter them with inexpensive innovations.

Budget Challenges Vex Pacific Fleet

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Pacific Fleet will not be able to meet its mission priorities easily if any of a variety of pending budget cuts comes to pass, according to its commander. Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the Wednesday morning keynote audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego that both the continuing resolution and sequestration offer distinct challenges to the fleet’s ability to meet its obligations amid the strategic rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.

The admiral notes that the continuing resolution has underfunded operation and maintenance by $3 billion. The nature of the continuing resolution limits the U.S. military’s ability to react to contingencies by not allowing the transfer of funds from different sources into operational accounts.

Sequestration is “a whole new ball game,” he said. It could bring an additional $4 billion to $5 billion in cuts this year alone. And, if both the continuing resolution and sequestration are coupled together, the result will be a true worst-case scenario.

The Pacific Fleet is trying to address its new mission areas, the admiral said. This includes an enhanced ability to operate in a contested environment with low-signature interoperability. It also includes being able to integrate data to deliver integrated fires rapidly.

Reversible Decisions Are at the Core of Navy Sequestration Plans

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Facing fiscal Armageddon, the U.S. Navy is building its budget strategy around options that could be undone if conditions change in the near future. Not all the cuts under consideration could be restored easily, but the sea service is working to ensure that key capabilities are not lost forever in crisis budget cutting.

A panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 focused on the topic of making fiscal cliff numbers add up. Vice Adm. David H. Buss, USN, commander, naval air forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, described the reversibility doctrine as a way to reconstitute force capabilities if conditions permit in the future. These conditions could be driven by fewer fiscal constraints or changes in doctrine or mission requirements.

Some savings can be realized without gutting the force. Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., USMC, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, noted that this budget crisis is not a surprise. The United Kingdom went through it a couple of years ago, and British colleagues warned their U.S. counterparts that the United States would have its turn in short order. Accordingly, the Marine Corps began making some preparations for funding reductions.

Gen. Toolan noted that acquisition discipline can generate savings. Over the past 10 years of war, the services received whatever they needed to support the warfighter. Acquisition discipline was discarded, but the services could realize savings if they return to that discipline.

Adm. Buss added that the Navy must guard against near-term solutions that “save a dollar today but cost three dollars tomorrow.”


Asia-Pacific Force Rebalance Will Require New Means of Operations

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy increasingly will need to rely on nonmilitary means to solve problems in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region continues, but its implementation will need to adjust to account for budgetary constraints.

Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work explained some of these nuances to a packed luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Work noted that many large- and medium-size Asia-Pacific nations are increasing the size of their navies and other maritime forces. By comparison, most European nations are shrinking their fleets.

With this growth in Asia-Pacific naval capabilities comes an increase in gunboat diplomacy, Work notes. States that might seem more likely to use gunboat diplomacy could cause a problem for U.S. interests there. Accordingly, the U.S. Navy must remain engaged in the region.

Work also pitched the Navy and the Marine Corps as “a sure bet” for carrying out the Asia-Pacific strategy, especially in a down defense market.

Cyber May Be Immune From Budget Cutting Affliction

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Amid all the concern about how the military will be cutting back severely across the board, cyber stands alone as one area that almost certainly will see spending increases. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy, told a packed keynote luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego that cyber is one area that continues to grow in importance.

Saying that cyber today is like atomic warfare was in the 1950s—“all over the place” with regard to doctrine—he stated that the Navy is increasing funding in cybersecurity and cyber forces. These forces will become all the more important as other forces are cut back.

“We’re making more progress on the operational tactical realm than on the strategic realm, but that [strategic progress] is coming,” Work offered.

Navy Leader Pledges to Meet Shipbuilding Goals

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. Navy shipbuilding will sail on in spite of potentially severe budget cuts, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work, giving the luncheon keynote address to a packed audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013, declared that the Navy would achieve its goal of a 300-ship Navy “by hook or by crook” by 2019.

Calling the shipbuilding program “the best it has ever been since the heyday of the 600-ship Navy” during the Reagan Administration, Work noted that the 42 additional ships currently planned all are under contract, and most of these contracts are fixed-price.

Still, the Navy will have to realize savings and cuts elsewhere to address what undoubtedly will be a tight budget. “‘Flat’ is the new ‘up’ in this defense budget environment,” he said, quipping, “We have an average budget … lower than last year, higher than next year.”

And, sequestration might be catastrophic, he added. The Navy might have to furlough its civilian workers for 22 days, which would have serious effects on both Navy operations and the personal lives of those furloughed. That would be only one of many severe repercussions that would afflict the Navy.

“If we have sequestration, we will have a hollow force by the end of the year,” he warned.


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