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The conference is part of many steps in the recent establishment of a commander dedicated solely to fleet-level IW command aimed at significantly enhancing operations within region. The Fleet IWC was formally established April 3, and is directed by Capt. Jon O'Connor, who oversees a staff of more than 100 personnel.
“The establishment of this position and structure is a great opportunity to elevate information warfare to a greater level of efficiency and specialization,” said O’Connor. “I’m proud to be the head of this endeavor and excited to see my personnel enact real, measurable impact on the IW capabilities of the fleet.”
This is the first IW commander at a numbered fleet in the U.S. Navy, marking a historical evolution in operational capabilities in the warfare area. The establishment comes as a second-order effect of the 2019 Chief of Naval Operations Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, following the direction to “master fleet-level warfare” and further integration of space, cyber, and electronic warfare into fleet maritime operations centers.
“This is part of a bigger push to weave specialty warfare areas into our day-to-day operations, to put it simply,” said O’Connor. “This means that commanders on the front lines have direct advisement in these areas so that we can better learn how to respond to threats and take the strong foundations of the pre-existing Navy Information Warfare Commander’s Manual and elevate them to improve the use of information and techniques to our advantage.”
The Information Warfare Commander is able to leverage the full range of information-based specialties and capabilities of the IW community including communications, networks, intelligence, oceanography, meteorology, cryptology, electronic warfare, cyberspace operations, and space.
The value of having these specialists at the disposal of theater commanders is significant, O’Connor went on to explain. The three pillars of Assured Command and Control, Battlespace Awareness, and Integrated Fires have always been significant in the C7F mission; but making them more defined and better coordinated provides a focused effort.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our community grow in capability and seeing how we can improve the finesse at which 7th Fleet already operates at,” said O’Connor. “This is a step forward to a more modern and informed force, and I’m excited to see what benefits come from it.”
As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50-70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.
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