West 2021 Coverage

July 1, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Digital twin technology aids in the design and maintenance of ships for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.Credit: Chesky/Shutterstock

Vice Adm. William Galinis, USN, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, indicated that digital twins are instrumental in the design of a broad array of ships, including next-generation attack submarines, destroyers and amphibious warships.

July 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer patrol the Hawaiian Island operational area. All three sea services are modernizing amid budget constraints. Credit: MC2 Christian M. Huntington, USN

Despite fiscal restraints and force reductions, the sea services are positioned to improve their capabilities in the coming years. This assessment comes from no less than the commanders of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard, who also described the role that technology will play in building their services’ future

June 30, 2021
By Sandra Jontz and Kimberly Underwood
In this image from December 2020, former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Barbara Barrett, walks with Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Charles Brown, before a ceremony unveiling the newly decorated Space Force hallway at the Pentagon. Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Space Force (USSF) this week plans to announce the first transfer to its ranks of 50 sister-service members who are leaving the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to become Space Force guardians, said Lt. Gen. Nina M. Armagno, USSF, director of staff of the Office of the Chief of Space Operations of the Space Force

“It’s important to know that as we grow, we’re bringing over missions, systems and personnel from our sister services, and this week, we’re going to announce the first 50 interservice transfers,” she said during an interview this week.  

July 1, 2021
By Maryann Lawlor
Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, USA, tells Army National Guard soldiers U.S. Cyber Command is only as good as all the components, including Active, Reserve and National Guard. Photo by Steven Stover, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade

Lessons learned in combating terrorist organizations such as ISIS have proved valuable to tailoring national defense techniques to use against cyber attacks from near-peer adversaries, including China and Russia. Speaking at West 2021, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, USA, said recent experience demonstrates that the threats to data and networks has changed dramatically in scope, scale and sophistication.

June 30, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Following her tenure as commander of Office of Naval Intelligence, Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, USN, stepped into the role of commander of Naval Information Forces in May. Here the vice admiral is pictured speaking during a ceremony in May 2021 with now-retired Vice Adm. Brian Brown, USN, looking on. Credit: U.S. Navy/Robert Fluegel

Three years ago, the Navy established its Information Warfare Enterprise and took steps to bolster its information warfare, or IW, given rising threats from adversaries. To support persistent surveillance of the maritime and information battle space, the service is now supplying IW expertise within meteorology, oceanography, intelligence, cyber, cryptology, network, space and electromagnetic spectrum operations, reported Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces.

June 30, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Security and artificial intelligence enabled by cloud computing and DevSecOps are top capabilities needed for integrated networking for the U.S. naval forces, including the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo

Security and artificial intelligence are two of the top technological capabilities needed to fully integrate the networking for U.S. naval forces, including the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, according to experts serving on a panel during the West 2021 virtual conference.

The panel included Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, USCG, assistant commandant, command, control, communications, computers and information technology; Jennifer Edgin, assistant deputy commandant for information for the Marine Corps; and Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence.

June 29, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Royal Australian Navy, Republic of Korea Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy ships sail in formation during the Pacific Vanguard 2020 exercise. The DoD’s FY 2022 budget request does not include separate funding for contingency operations. The services now have to balance the possible need to come up with such funds from their base budgets, which may impact funding for exercises, training or other operational needs, leaders say. Credit: U.S. Navy/Lt. Mark Langford

The Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential budget request, released May 28, included $715 billion for the Department of Defense. Unique to that budget was the discontinuation—for the first time in 20 years—of separate Overseas Contingency Operation, or OCO, funds. Instead, the DoD’s direct war and enduring operation costs are now included as part of the base budget request, according to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The move stems from President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of September from Afghanistan, where a good portion of continued overseas operations and expenses had occurred.

June 29, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
The USS Colorado makes its way to its base at New London, Connecticut. The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is increasing its efforts to uncover adversary submersible capabilities and help build better U.S. Navy submarines. Credit: John Narewski

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is listening carefully to operations underwater as it prepares for the Navy to meet new and emerging threats. This work includes probing new adversarial technologies as well as working with partners in industry and overseas to improve U.S. capabilities.

June 29, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Navy SEALs conduct train in the Atlantic Ocean, May 29, 2019. Navy Special Warfare Command expects artificial intelligence to augment the human weapon system as well as unmanned systems. Credit: Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Jayme Pastoric

The U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command seeks to conduct missions no one else can, and officials expect artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to assist in that effort, Rear Adm. Hugh Wyman Howard III, USN, the organization’s commander, told the audience today during the 2021 WEST virtual conference.

June 29, 2021
By George I. Seffers
Navy SEALs conduct dive operations training in the Atlantic Ocean, May 29, 2019. A proposed reserve force of combat-ready, active-duty special operators could allow the Navy Special Warfare Command the agility it needs to respond to the full spectrum of missions around the globe while experimenting with new tactics, techniques and procedures. Credit: Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Jayme Pastoric

Rear Adm Hugh Wyman Howard III, USN, commander, Navy Special Warfare Command, made the case today that keeping a combat-ready active-duty force in reserve for combat or contingency operations around the world will provide opportunities for greater experimentation with tactics, techniques and procedures.

June 29, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
An information systems technician troubleshoots the automated digital network system aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Greater network integration is vital to prevent an adversary from pre-empting a kinetic operation by purely a cyber attack. Credit: MC2 Mar'Queon Tramble, USN

The next conflict between the United States and a peer adversary may be over before the shooting begins. A capable enemy is likely to begin with all-out cyber operations, and their success could preclude any kinetic response by the United States.

That point was raised by Vice Adm. Jeffrey E. Trussler, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare/director of Naval Intelligence N2/N6, at West 2021. The virtual conference, cosponsored by AFCEA International and USNI, is running live June 29-30.

June 29, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
A Seahawk unmanned surface vessel in the Pacific Ocean and an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 participate in U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem 21 in April. Naval exercises have been crucial to aiding the integration of unmanned vessels into the fleet and pairing with manned capabilities, experts say. Credit: U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon Renfroe

The Department of the Navy (DON) has set a course to add a “large number” of air, surface and subsurface unmanned platforms to operate in all domain alongside manned systems. In March, the Navy and the Marine Corps published the Unmanned Campaign Framework to guide their investments in and integration of unmanned platforms. The service should not stray from this effort, despite cultural, operational and funding barriers, said a panel of experts, led by moderator Capt. George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), director, Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, speaking at the virtual West 2021 conference. 

June 29, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Marines and sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS New Orleans execute small boat drills in the Philippine Sea. Greater integration between the Navy and Marine Corps is leading to more joint operations in support of maritime security. Credit: Lance Cpl. Grace Gerlach, USMC

The U.S. Marine Corps is shifting its emphasis to become more of a force integrated with that of the U.S. Navy, leaders of both services said. The two services will focus more on coordinated rather than complementary operations that will be supported by advanced communications and networking technologies.

These were among the points discussed in the opening panel session at West 2021, the two-day virtual conference cosponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. Being held June 29-30, the event’s focus is on the promise and progress of naval integration.

June 23, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Quality assurance specialists at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific inspect network racks in the center's Network Integration and Engineering Facility. The Navy is tasking industry with providing cybersecurity solutions that are interoperable across the service. (Credit: Rick Naystatt, U.S. Navy)

Effective cybersecurity for the U.S. Navy will hinge on interoperable tools suitable for the fleet’s diverse number of ships. As different as the ships and their systems may be, their cybersecurity must be based on common standards and interoperate across the sea service.

February 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
A U.S. Navy operations specialist communicates with bridge wing watchstanders aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Sterett. The Navy is moving full speed ahead on its modernization efforts, but it needs more rapid insertion of information technologies into the fleet and ashore.  U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. Navy is looking for speed—not speed of platforms or vehicles, but of innovation. Introducing new capabilities into the force rapidly is vitally important to maintain the combat edge necessary to deter or defeat adversaries that are building up steam in their efforts to confront the U.S. military.

This will require tapping industry for innovative information technology advances. Ensuring that speed of capability may require working with the commercial sector to steer it into the right areas to suit naval needs. Ultimately, software-defined systems may hold the key to keeping ahead of the deployment curve in technology-based systems.

June 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
In its pursuit of open architecture solutions, the U.S. Navy has made “great strides” in applying the Mission Computer Alternative (MCA) platform, which is a Hardware Open Systems Technologies- (HOST-) conforming mission computer. The service is currently testing the MCA/HOST platform in its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye tactical airborne early warning aircraft and in its T-45 training aircraft (above)—and is considering how to advance the solutions to other platforms.  U.S. Navy photo

The U.S. military is using open architecture platforms on a greater scale, deploying interchangeable hardware and software systems to its major weapon programs. In particular, the Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command, known as NAVAIR, and its Program Executive Office, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services, are increasingly using flexible “systems of systems” in many of its major aviation programs. The application of open architecture is allowing the Navy—and the Defense Department—to consolidate common resources, decrease risk, reuse software, enhance maintenance abilities, reduce costs and increase tactical options.

June 1, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
The USS John Finn launches a missile during the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem 21 in April. Integrating unmanned systems into the fleet is one of the challenges facing the Navy as it modernizes to meet growing adversarial threats.  U.S. Navy photo

Back to basics may be the mantra for integrating innovation into the U.S. Navy. The long-held goal of network-centric warfare is more important than ever, and standards definition may hold the key for successful naval innovation.

The need for innovation is emphasized by advances by peer adversaries around the world. To keep up with ever-increasing challenges, the Navy is looking toward new weapons, unmanned systems and advanced dataflow to unify its operations against potential foes’ growing capabilities.

May 25, 2021
 

SIGNAL editorial staff will provide live coverage from West 2021, taking place virtually June 29-30. Watch this space and follow #WEST2021 on Twitter during the event. The premier naval conference and exposition world-wide, West is now in its 31st year of bringing military and industry leaders together. Co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute, West is the only event in which the makers of platforms and the designers of technologies can network, discuss and demonstrate their solutions.