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Navy Extends Information Warfare Deeper

The sea service is embedding skilled operators into more disciplines.
Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces, describes the Navy's information warfare thrust at WEST 2022. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces, describes the Navy's information warfare thrust at WEST 2022. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Having embraced information warfare, the U.S. Navy is incorporating it into more platforms and operations as the sea service expects it to play a major role in future combat. Both technology and expertise are increasing their presence, and training is adjusting accordingly.

These points were discussed in a special information warfare presentation by Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, USN, commander, Naval Information Forces. Speaking in the Navy Information Warfare Theater at WEST 2022, the conference and exposition hosted by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute in San Diego February 16-18, Adm. Aeschbach discussed the growing role information warfare is having in all Navy operations.

Many of the points the admiral discussed were covered in a February SIGNAL Magazine interview. But she complemented that article with several key points and deeper dives into ongoing activities.

“That integration of information warfare with operations is happening now,” she posited. “The issue is how do we bring better definition to it.”

One of the newer actions involves Navy submarines, which have traditionally lacked full information warfare activities. Adm. Aeschbach described how her command will be piloting a program on two submarines this summer. Both will receive two officers dedicated and trained for information warfare.

These efforts are part of a broad-based acknowledgement of the role information warfare will play in future combat. “You can’t execute the kill chain without information warfare,” the admiral declared.

She elaborated on some of her remarks in a media roundtable held immediately after her address. She noted that her command is working on establishing a permanent position of an information warfare commander in an amphibious ready group. The submarine postings are geared toward removing the information warfare burden from other officers.

“The Navy is the only one that delivers undersea capability efficiently,” she said. “The N2 [on a submarine] often is a captain working on that area for the first time. We shouldn’t burden a sub officer who already has a complex environment.”

With adversaries embracing information warfare for their own military operations, the Navy is taking its own approaches. “We are pressing to take the information advantage,” she said. “We are just as aggressive as our competition for how we pursue those opportunities.

“Every platform we have has information warfare capabilities,” she continued. “Every platform potentially is a sensor in the battlespace. We’re re-invested in the maritime focus.”

Amid with all the talk about a potential conflict with China, information warfare will play a significant role. “Information warfare is helpful in the Pacific because it helps bring decision advantage to our warfighters,” she pointed out. “If we end up in conflict, we can’t get anything on target it we don’t have info warfare.”