• Aaron Weis, Department of the Navy chief information officer, addresses WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter
     Aaron Weis, Department of the Navy chief information officer, addresses WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Navy Needs a Network Reconfiguration

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The service’s worst enemy in cyberspace could be itself.

The U.S. Navy has gone past wanting a new information architecture to needing one at the risk of losing a future combat operation. The sea service faces a grim future unless it quickly turns around current information technology trends that are doing it more harm than good.

This point was driven home by the man tasked with running the Navy’s information infrastructure. Aaron Weis, Department of the Navy chief information officer (CIO), described the Navy’s information environment challengers to the audience on the first day of WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. Weis was blunt in describing the need for new networks.

“Our networks are overly complex, topographically challenged, extremely difficult to defend and for our forces to maneuver within,” he declared. “I would argue that our networks are holding us back.

“We have to modernize, drive innovation and be able to defend our information,” he continued. “And we’re going to have to do this in what is today a flat topline budget environment.”

Weis called for aggressively pursuing a cloud-based infrastructure that will enable many new capabilities. One of these will be modern software design that will enable the Navy to streamline processes that take years today, but would only take weeks in the future.

This also will change the Navy’s approach to information. “We’re not synthesizing information, we’re just projecting data,” he maintained.

The Navy must close the 15-year gap for modernization, he stated. Even with the Pentagon spending $11 billion a year on information technology, the service must focus on networking that provides sailors and Marines with the connectivity they need.

“It’s not just [information technology] spending,” Weis said. “We’re not providing capability at a world-class level.

Not only is the Navy at a key juncture in its effort to stay ahead of adversaries, it also has a rare opportunity to make these necessary changes, he offered.

“We are at a key point,” he stated. “We have a commandant and a CNO who uniquely understand the value of an information technology environment.”


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