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Integration of Effects is Key for the 10th Fleet

U.S. Combatant Commanders are receiving a full offering of digital warfare from the fleet.

The U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet balances complex roles as the service’s operational cyber and space arm that executes cyber, electronic and information warfare, and signal intelligence effects. The fleet is also continuing to harness emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, explained Vice Adm. Craig Clapperton, 10th Fleet Commander, speaking on November 16 at AFCEA Alamo Chapter’s ACE conference in San Antonio.

The vice admiral is responsible for five commands: the U.S. 10th Fleet, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, Joint Forces Headquaters-Navy, U.S. Navy Space Command and the Navy’s Service Cryptologic Component.

Through those five commands and 20,000 personnel, the 10th Fleet provides three crucial warfighting capabilities to the joint force: assured command and control, cyber and space effects and battle space awareness. In particular, the commands provide offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, network management, data movement, and enable command and control and nuclear command, control and communication, across the Navy globally, as well as for the joint force.

The vice admiral is also responsible for developing adroit cyber campaigns for the U.S. Combatant Commands to enable those commanders to achieve joint force objectives around the globe.












And for the military to succeed in a near-peer contested operational environment, the 10th Fleet is integrating its effects on a higher level than before. “Now we are really at the point where I think we're doing this in a much smarter way,” Adm. Clapperton emphasized. “That is the cyber and the non-kinetics and the IW. If you go back a couple of years, it was sort of sprinkling it on top of the com-plan [command plan] and the O-plan [operations plan]. But it's got to be there from the beginning.”

In particular, the 10th Fleet has worked closely with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Forces Korea and other Navy stakeholders to ensure that cyber, electronic and information warfare capabilities are included as possible effects for the commanders.

During combatant command planning activities, 10th Fleet representation helps ensure those effects are considered from the start. “My folks need to sit with your folks,” he noted. “And your people, they don't need to be as smart as us on space and cyber, but they have to have some understanding. And then we’ve got to figure out together how we are going to really integrate this and build it from the ground up. And that's really where we are.”

The fleet’s naval warriors are exceeding his expectations for the integration of cyber, electronic and information warfare, he continued. And in turn, the combatant commanders have more confidence in employing those effects, which were not always traditional naval warfare options.


VADM Craig Clapperton, USN
Now we are really at the point where I think we're doing this in a much smarter way. That is the cyber and the non-kinetics and the IW. If you go back a couple of years, it was sort of sprinkling it on top of the [command plan] and the [operations plan]. But it's got to be there from the beginning.
Vice Adm. Craig Clapperton, USN
Commander U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet


“This is an area where I think my team is doing a great job,” Adm. Clapperton explained. “It has nothing to do with me and absolutely everything to do with the just exceptional men and women that I have on the team, how they are integrating cyber, non-kinetic effects and assurance about spatial awareness into the actual plans, so that our combatant commanders are going to use them. This is both a good and a bad thing. It's a challenge, because the commanders are now going to depend on us being successful. That's a good thing, though, because it adds value to what our team does, adds motivation and inspiration to our team and creates that unity of effort.”

In addition, Adm. Clapperton sees artificial intelligence (AI) playing a role in each one of the fleet’s three warfighting responsibilities. “You need in many cases to take in data from the environment and make decisions that much faster than human thinking, to get the right activity in place for the right time,” he offered. “This is where AI really comes into play.”

Given the need for all-domain operations, the fleet could also employ modeling and simulation capabilities that can consider the various possible effects. “If I'm going to try to integrate space, cyber, electronic warfare, dynamic force maneuver, from the surface, from below the surface, from space, from bomber task versus from fighter task forces, and to be able to figure out exactly what order to do those in, how to integrate them, and how they're going to be the most effective, you need significant modeling and simulation to be able to do that,” the vice admiral said.

The service also re-stood up U.S. Navy Space in January of this year, and if confirmed by the Senate, Adm. Clapperton will also be the commander of Navy Space, reporting to Gen. James Dickinson, USA, commander of U.S. Space Command. The vice admiral will be responsible for both offensive and defensive space capabilities that the Navy develops for the command to use in joint operations.

Additionally, the vice admiral is also the Navy’s cryptologic officer, under Gen. Paul Nakasone, USA, as the chief of the Central Security Service.

The design of the 10th Fleet is what is needed to contribute to modern-day naval warfare, the vice admiral concluded. “When I interact with my compatriots, on the three-star level, or my bosses at the four-star level, I don't think in silos,” Adm. Clapperton said. “I think across all five of those things. And sure, five hats is a lot to wear, but the ability to synchronize and bring together and integrate those authorities is really powerful.”


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