West 2020 coverage

March 4, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
WEST 2020 panelists discuss AI. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy still has its work cut out for it regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or robotic systems. Data and the ability to obtain data remains an impediment to the increased use of AI, as does the ability to verify that adversaries have not tampered with AI-related code, said experts speaking on a panel at AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute’s WEST 2020 conference in San Diego on March 3. Capt. George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), director, Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC), Pacific, moderated the panel.

March 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord, who spoke to WEST attendees via video link, meets key staff members of the Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Desmond Cassell

Adapting to great power competition requires improved acquisition operations, and the U.S. Defense Department's acquisition headquarters has been busy revamping contracting practices. The efforts are succeeding in reducing contracting burdens, timelines and workforce hours, and is bringing in more innovation into the DOD, its top leader reports.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists at WEST 2020 examine how to stand up to China's South China Sea aggression. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Carefully crafted actions on the part of nations respecting international law may be the solution for countering China’s maritime territory grab in the South China Sea. These actions could prevent the Middle Kingdom from bullying its way into areas it claims unilaterally, or they might be the key to preventing the region from erupting into armed conflict.

These issues were the focus of discussion in a Tuesday panel at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. A collection of warfighters and academics weighed the consequences of potential actions as well as inaction.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
SIGNAL Magazine interviews Pat Sullivan, NAVWAR executive director, during WEST 2020.

The U.S. Navy is cloning ship systems by creating digital twins that will help improve procurement and training times. Part of the service’s migration to the digital environment, the digital twins project is being incorporated into the 26 ships of the USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group. It will allow new systems to develop, and sailors to train, in their deployment environment.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Philip S. Davidson, USN, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warns of Chinese aggression in his Tuesday keynote luncheon address at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

A broadly expanded and multifaceted training effort entailing multiple friends and allies will be necessary to forestall Chinese adventurism in the Indo-Pacific region, said the commander of U.S. forces there. Adm. Philip S. Davidson, USN, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, laid out an extensive description of the threat China poses to the global community on the final day of WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI.

March 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discuss acquisition and requirements at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The U.S. Navy is exercising innovative ways of procurement to modernize its force to meet growing foreign threats. Acquisition alternatives may hold the key as the sea services gird for great power competition around the globe.

March 2, 2020
By Beverly Cooper
Individuals from industry and government share their expertise on building high performing teams at AFCEA West: (l-r) Brandon J. Lester; J. Michael Whelan; Joe Rohner; Cayley Rice, Ph.D.; and Stephanie D. Tharp. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Certain baseline characteristics exist for successful teams, and the more an organization facilitates the development of such characteristics within their operations, the more effective the teams will be. Google’s Project Aristotle followed 180 teams for two years to identify these traits. A panel of Young AFCEANs discussed the results of this research from their own perspectives at WEST 2020, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI.

March 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Vice Adm. Brian Brown, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces, speaks at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The Navy’s Readiness Analytics and Visualization Environment, known as RAVEN, which recently reached full operating capability, provides three dozen data lakes to provide a picture of readiness. The Naval Information Forces, or NAVIFOR, now intends to extend the use of RAVEN to manning, training and equipping readiness and cyber readiness, according to Vice Adm. Brian Brown, USN, commander, NAVIFOR.

March 3, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The USS Abraham Lincoln is part of a pilot program that will facilitate the integration of more comprehensive capabilities to the greater fleet. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aja Jackson

The U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, and Space Systems, or PEO C4I &SS, is pursuing an aggressive information warfare digital metamorphosis to support the Navy’s distributed maritime operations around the globe.

The PEO C4I & SS is employing industry best practices and incorporating sailor input as part of its so-called Information Warfare Digital Execution Plan (IWDEP), which will provide sailors with a framework of technologies and processes to enable coordinated information warfare effects.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers speak during a panel at WEST 2020.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are ready to engage in combat in a contested zone if it were to break out tomorrow, high-ranking officers say. However, peer rivals are pushing to eliminate that advantage and turn the tables in the near future.

A group of officers from the three services waxed and waned about the services’ chances in future combat during a panel discussion at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. The flag officers were unanimous about the ability of U.S. maritime forces to respond to a crisis tomorrow, if necessary.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discuss manning, training and equiment at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Failure in just one of a troika of military disciplines will doom the Navy in future combat operations, said a panel of experts. The Navy and the Marine Corps will need to tap their best potential expertise and resources to guarantee the success of manning, training and equipping the force.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Aaron Weis, Department of the Navy chief information officer, addresses WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

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.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
At WEST 2020, the sea service chiefs discuss the impact of the coronavirus on operations. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The global progression of the coronavirus has caused the sea services to cut back on some activities and cancel others as they increase their surveillance of the disease’s spread. Their efforts include monitoring cross-border activities that could involve the spread of the virus into the United States.

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Adm. Michael M. Gilday, USN, chief of naval operations, speaks at WEST 2020. Photo by Michael Carpenter

All the U.S. sea services are calling for transformational changes as they confront increasingly capable adversaries. But each service views a different course to achieving a force that can address growing threats from different peer rivals worldwide.

These different perspectives were presented by the opening speakers at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. Each of the sea service chiefs described the challenges they face and what they must do—and have—to meet them.