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The rise in power among long-term strategic rivals in the sea, space and information domains, coupled with the rapid pace of evolving technology, underpins the importance of U.S. Navy ships operating independently. This means that Sailors must be able to employ, operate and maintain C4I hardware and software systems autonomously while at sea.
“Our goal when delivering a system to the fleet is for the Sailor who maintains our equipment to be able to confidently take the system to sea without external support,” said Rear Adm. Kurt Rothenhaus, program executive officer for Program Executive Office (PEO) C4I. “However, listening to the fleet and looking at the data, we recognized we needed to do more in the areas of system design, training and technical documentation to improve self-sufficiency.”
Stood up in August 2020, the SSS IPT is guided by three pillars: training, technical resources, and distance support, help desk and Regional Maintenance Center (RMC) engagement. The goal is to provide life-cycle sustainment solutions that will have a direct impact on Sailor performance at sea with increased technical knowledge, skills and abilities.
The objective of the training pillar is to accelerate delivery of capability-based training solutions. While a systems command (SYSCOM) like NAVWAR is resourced by system that will then be fielded through the work of various program offices, those systems must be able to interface with each other to provide capabilities to a ship. With that in mind, then-Program Executive Officer for PEO C4I, Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, implemented the Capabilities-Based Training Roadmap in 2018.
For example, if a radio room has many different radios, crypto devices and circuits, the focus can’t be on just one radio system because that radio cannot work without a transport mechanism that reaches to a satellite to provide connection to the distant end, with secure crypto in the middle.
“We’ve started building end-to-end training that goes from the operator interface to the distant end and back through getting a response,” said Nichole Sellers, PEO C4I deputy, assistant program executive office (APEO) for logistics and head of the information warfare (IW) training department at NAVWAR. “We want to make sure Sailors are trained through the entire process, including interfaces, so they can effectively troubleshoot and be more organically self-sufficient and don’t have to reach out for technical assistance.”
In addition to the C4I Capabilities Training Roadmap execution, this pillar focuses heavily on the integration of IW into the Live, Virtual, Constructive training (LVCt) environment in order to provide both scalable and cost-effective training. This will enable realistic training in the basic, advanced and integrated phases of training which will result in more proficient and resilient IW forces.
IW-enabling C4I systems and capabilities are complex. The key objective of the Sailor support and documentation pillar is to improve technical resources available to fleet operators. Program of record (POR) training and documentation is often focused on “stand-alone” systems and does not address system interoperability and troubleshooting of equipment interfaces.
The creation of the Information System Operations Sequence System (ISOSS) will guide end-to-end troubleshooting across a complete C4I capability. This authoritative, prescriptive guide is independent of, but complimentary to, the Combat Systems Operational Sequencing System (CSOSS) and aims to bridge the gap between CSOSS and POR documentation.
“ISOSS will help to consolidate, reduce or eliminate an overabundance of existing technical support products,” said Gary Ford, deputy APEO for logistics. “This will help to minimize ambiguity, streamline the support package footprint and enhance sailor self-sufficiency to improve C4I and IW product effectiveness.”
The team is also working to reimagine NAVWAR’s SYSCOM Acquisition and Integrated Logistics Online Repository, also known as SAILOR, to assist the fleet in accessing current hardware and software configurations as well as product support documents. As NAVWAR’s self-help website, SAILOR streamlines and accelerates electronic technical data content delivery to the nation's warfighter to enable them to proficiently operate, maintain and repair mission critical systems. Fleet users can sign up for an account with only a Common Access Card by going to sailor.navy.mil.
“We’ve listened to fleet feedback, and our team is excited to upgrade SAILOR with usability improvements and enhanced accessibility,” said Krista Thorn, technical director for product data management and program manager of SAILOR. “Our goal is to increase fleet awareness of available IT tools, provide a technical exchange forum and chat capabilities to encourage fleet collaboration on SAILOR, and to eventually launch a TechTube channel where Sailors can post their own technical content to assist junior Sailors to become self-sufficient.”
These efforts, the development of ISOSS and the improvements to SAILOR, aim to build a Sailor’s troubleshooting confidence, ability and proficiency surrounding C4I systems.
DISTANCE SUPPORT, HELP DESK, AND RMC ENGAGEMENT
This pillar focuses on distance support, help desk capacity and improved coordination with RMCs. The team uses real-time predictive metrics and fleet feedback data from Naval Surface Warfare Centers and RMCs to prioritize, improve and anticipate readiness needs.
With a custom series of artificial intelligence and machine learning models trained to predict whether a trouble ticket will escalate into a casualty report (CASREP), the team has a daily review of fleet-wide trouble tickets across the PEO portfolio where they look for warnings that a system may need more training or more technical documentation.
“We are laser focused on the data coming from our Information Warfighters in the fleet,” said Steve Brown, NAVWAR Fleet Readiness Directorate fleet support division program manager and APEO for readiness. “Every ticket and support request matters and that’s why we are using the patterns in the data to streamline and accelerate our support, prioritization and handoff procedures. Together with our partners at the RMCs, we are experimenting and innovating to find better ways to resolve issues more quickly, and empower sailors to be self-sufficient with better training, knowledge articles and algorithmic tools.”
Additionally, in support of ongoing Sailor self-sufficiency initiatives, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and PEO C4I recently conducted their first ever “Script-o-thon.” This three-day event brought together fleet subject matter experts in the Information Systems Technician (IT) and Cryptologic Technician Networks (CTN) ratings, augmented by logisticians, training personnel, engineers and maintenance subject matter experts.
The event provided hands-on training and scripting through the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) Training Virtual Environment (TVE), which allowed participants to assess automation capabilities of CANES maintenance and reoccurring tasks on a true-to-life representation of their onboard network. This aimed to increase their familiarity with the product line and reduce engineering validation efforts.
As a true IPT working together to incorporate fleet feedback into the human systems interface and human factors in engineering system design, the event helped to strengthen partnerships between SYSCOMs, type commands and the end user towards a robust and efficient warfighting capability.
“We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the event,” said Jennifer Blakenship, surface force cyber officer. “It allowed Sailors to have a real fleet-wide impact to their onboard workload. We are looking forward to an Atlantic fleet event in early fiscal year 2023 to automate additional maintenance requirements identified during this pilot event, and continue to leverage our most valued asset – our deck plate workforce.”
To monitor and track progress toward improving C4I Sailor self-sufficiency, the SSS IPT has developed a performance to plan (P2P) that establishes outcome objectives, metrics, and driver tree relationships for each Sailor self-sufficiency pillar. Key measures of effectiveness to determine P2P and effectiveness of solutions include Sailor self-sufficiency metrics at system and portfolio levels, mean system down time, mean system time to repair, average number of open C4I systems CASREPS per ship, average number of days that a C4I CASREP remains open and number of onboard tech assists.
Prioritizing Sailor self-sufficiency for information readiness is one of the objectives outlined in NAVWAR’s recently-released Strategic Vector. The document aims to align the command with the Chief of Naval Operations’ Navigation Plan and describes a data-driven approach to the goal of making NAVWAR the world’s preeminent provider of IW capabilities driving operational dominance from seabed to space.
NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space and through cyberspace. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.
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