West 2015

April 1, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman
(r-l) Vice Adm. Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute, moderates a panel featuring Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps; Adm. Michelle J. Howard, USN, vice chief of naval operations; and Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, USCG, commandant of the Coast Guard.

Being asked to do more with less is illustrating that less is not more for global obligations. The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are struggling with the hard reality that, in this era of dynamic geopolitics and changing targets, sometimes less is less.

Budget cuts compelled by the congressional sequestration bill and post-war defense reductions have trimmed the military to a force that may not be able to meet its newly expanded mission needs even when teamed with the best innovative thinking. Some existing equipment is nearing the end of its operational life and must be replaced. New types of adversaries and operations require a revamping of hardware and capabilities at a time when resources are scarce.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The three sea services are facing different challenges with cyber operations, but they are adopting some similar solutions as they wrestle with the newest warfighting domain. In some cases, the services are affected by events that are out of their physical areas of responsibility but omnipresent in cyberspace.

Three sea service leaders described their cyber issues during the Thursday luncheon panel at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. All panelists emphasized the importance of their people in cyber, but they also offered different perspectives on how their services are addressing cyber.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Already dealing with an expanded mission set, the U.S. Coast Guard is facing new challenges as economic conditions generate different types of stresses on existing assets and capabilities. In the United States, the energy boom will require vastly expanded activities on domestic waters. Internationally, staggering poverty has triggered crime sprees that have increased smuggling and limited the potential of governments to crack down on corruption.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The Navy’s mission set is likely to continue to grow over the foreseeable future, but the same cannot be said of the fleet. Both surface ships and submarines will need to be replaced or complemented, but budget restrictions severely hinder the Navy’s ability to meet those goals.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps needs more amphibious ships as it returns to its roots amid tight budgets. The Corps also needs to lighten the load its warfighters bear, and it wants to be able to access advanced intelligence data from its most sophisticated platform.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The future of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region may be determined by the actions or inactions of China and North Korea. China is flexing its muscles and projecting power far beyond its traditional realm, but North Korea poses a bigger threat by nature of its irrational leadership.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) has become so important a part of U.S. operations in the Asia-Pacific region that experts now are viewing it as a military doctrine and striving to improve it. In an area that constitutes half the world’s surface and contains most of its people, natural disasters that damage a nation severely occur yearly. The U.S. response to these annual crises of nature defines much of the military’s operations in that vast region.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

India, a nonaligned nation long reluctant to involve itself in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region, has begun to increase its involvement with the United States and other nations of the dynamic region. This development comes at a time when India’s decisions on critical foreign policy issues will have an increasing degree of importance, according to members of a panel on the Indo-Asia Pacific region at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Viewed as an indispensable force for peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, the United States risks losing the support it enjoys from nearly every nation in that hemisphere if it is ambiguous and not willing to take a stand during crises, said defense experts. A panel on the Indo-Asia Pacific region comprising former military flag officers and moderated by a China expert explored the developments taking place in the region and the importance of U.S. forces to peace and prosperity there.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is exploiting its own assets and other capabilities to defend and protect against cyberthreats. Some of these internal assets include automated triggers in networks as well as advanced intelligence sources.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, Tenth Fleet, described some of these measures to the Thursday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. These efforts are built around her vision, which is to conduct operations through cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum to guarantee Navy operations while denying the same to adversaries.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is facing new and better cyber adversaries as it expands its own cyber footprint. These threats face the fleet and the nation, and the Navy may be called upon to respond in both cases.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, Tenth Fleet, described her command’s challenges to a Thursday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Adm. Tighe related that 2014 saw several criminal and destructive cyber attacks, and this trend is likely to grow in 2015.

February 12, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is focusing on five long-term goals in its cyber operations that involve other service and national assets. Some concentrate directly on network operations, while others are at the heart of national security activities.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, commander, Fleet Cyber Command and commander, 10th Fleet, outlined the five goals in her Thursday morning address at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Her first goal simply is to operate the network as a warfighting entity.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps is focusing on six different capability areas as it looks to modernize its force amid personnel reductions. Each area has subsets of activity, and their focal points range from operational to technological.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

As if it did not have enough new missions added to its responsibilities, the U.S. Coast Guard may find itself adding more emphasis to an old activity. The recent boom in U.S. fossil fuel extraction and production offers to increase the traffic of energy products on U.S. rivers, and the Coast Guard will need to increase its vigilance of this burgeoning river traffic.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

At least one U.S. Navy information technology leader believes the service can benefit from the severe budget constraints imposed by sequestration. Rear Adm. David H. Lewis USN, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), explained how this might come to pass to a panel audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.

“There is opportunity in adversity,” he stated. The admiral pointed out how many military advances took place in interwar years when funding was almost nonexistent, and he listed technology advances from each interwar period since World War I. “This is our opportunity to really innovate,” he declared.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Information technology systems, elements and methodologies are becoming more of a factor in U.S. naval aviation. Virtual capabilities are supplanting physical training, and new architectures may allow faster incorporation of new technologies.

Some of these approaches were outlined in a panel discussion at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Vice Adm. David A. Dunaway, USN, commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), was blunt in his assessment of the current NAVAIR budget environment.

“The current cost profile is prohibitive,” he declared. “It’s a going-out-of-business profile.”

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The sequestration bill that has been the bane of military procurement may be on its last legs, although its reach still has some distance to go. That is the prediction of a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in defense procurement.

James McAleese, principal, McAleese and Associates PC, explained how this might come to pass to the audience at a panel discussion during West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. He forecasts that the government will see a last-minute sequester deal in 2016, although it will be late in the year. So, the Defense Department will not receive all of the $38 billion it is requesting above the sequester topline.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Adopting commercial practices in military acquisition would help both the Defense Department and the companies that serve it. Both entities have slipped into risk-averse behavior that benefits neither and hurts the warfighting customer, said industry and former government experts.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

Archaic acquisition regulations designed to reduce risk, teamed with commercial technology controls, are inhibiting efforts to procure information technology systems quickly and effectively, according to military and civilian experts. Two separate Wednesday panel discussions at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, addressed this dichotomy in discussions that went beyond normal acquisition criticism.

February 11, 2015
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps is focusing on network advances that empower warfighters to an unprecedented degree. The result will be that smaller groups of Marines will have more capabilities than larger units had just a few years ago.

Speaking in a panel discussion at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, USMC, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, emphasized this focus on the warfighter. “Power down, power down, power down” he said of networking priorities. “Let’s get the information we need on a reliable network into the hands of the warfighter on the ground.”

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