U.S. Navy Charts Rough Fiscal Seas Ahead, Sees IT As A Lifeboat

June 13, 2011
By Max Cacas

Here are some additional highlights from the AFCEA NOVA Chapter's 10th Annual Naval IT Day, held at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Tysons Corner, Va., last Thursday.

  • In his opening keynote address to the Naval IT Day conference, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, says one of the challenges for Navy IT is handling all the data coming in from a growing array of sensors based on land, on ships, in the air and on satellites, and processing it quickly for use by the warfighter. With an eye toward lean budget times ahead, Greenert said, "We won't have money to go, go, go." He urged industry leaders, "If you see something (a new system) emerging [that can help meet a challenge], help us understand what's out there." In the area of cybersecurity, he says he favors development of systems that are "adaptive" and capable of recovering quickly from attacks, rather than those built solely to keep out intruders.
  • Rear Admiral Edward "Ned" Deets III, head of the Navy's Network Warfare Command, said, "Information has become a main battery for the U.S. Navy." He praised young women and men who are taking their places in the Navy for a better understanding of the capabilities of the new technology, and said millennials "expect the Internet and will use it to innovate and evolve cyberwarfare." Any systems developed for the Navy, he said, must balance "convenience and security."
  • Add a new acronym to the lexicon of Navy IT: TCPED. David Weddell, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2N6B), said that Navy IT systems must be shaped around "tasking, collection, processing, exploitation and distribution." He said he wants to ensure that warfighters are not flooded with information they don't need; that information can be shared in timely ways not only among members of his service, but to other services and coalition partners; and that a deluge of sensor data identified by the Defense Science Board is dealt with. Weddell says he'd like industry to come up with cost-effective solutions that will help automate the processing of much of that sensor data.
  • The Navy Department's Chief Information Officer, Terry Halvorsen, said his biggest challenge ahead is to meet the mandate from Defense Secretary Gibbs to find a 25 percent cut in spending from the department's "business IT spending." He said that in the next few weeks, the Undersecretary of the Navy is expected to meet with his staff to turn that 25 percent into a hard figure. Halvorsen says everything from the possibility of a commercial email server for unclassified messages, hosting data centers on secure Naval facilities, and developing a computer client with a small physical and virtual footprint is "on the table" at this time.
  • In a panel featuring program executive officers from a variety of Navy and Marine Corps units, Captain Shawn Hendricks, USN, Program Manager, PMW-205, emphasized, "I have no investment dollars whatsoever," and said past years of $1.3 billion for development are history. Over the next several years, he will be hard-pressed to conduct anything more than the periodic "tech refresh" to replace aging equipment. Col. Ron Zich, USMC EA, C4 CIO, says his group is focused on an effort to merge five legacy computer networks into one, CANES (Consolidated Afloat Networks), which he says should save money and increase the efficiency of shipboard IT systems.
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