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NWSI’s Latest Warfare Innovation Continuum Workshop Examines the Future Hybrid Force

18 October 2022

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Leonard Weston, Naval Postgraduate School Office of University Communications

MONTEREY, Calif. - The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) hosted its latest hybrid Warfare Innovation Continuum (WIC) Workshop in late September. Spearheaded by the Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI), WIC 2022 brought together more than 138 participants, allowed NPS students to envision the future hybrid force with faculty, staff, fleet officers, Navy labs, industry partners, and international participants from Australia, Japan, Brazil, the Netherlands and Mexico.

The WIC Workshop is used as an NPS Thesis and Research Week activity, leveraging students and faculty at NPS to address complex fleet issues, “from technical to ethical, concept generation to experimentation,” according to the lead orgsanizers.

“The annual WIC Workshop introduces a problem space of concern to naval leadership using a completely fictional scenario created by NPS Operations Research Professor of the Practice Jeff Kline based on open source global news sources,” said research assistant Lyla Englehorn, the NWSI concepts branch lead.

“Not only does this workshop approach a complex military problem space from a human perspective, which has not been a traditional DOD approach, but the workshop model purposefully structures teams with a vast array of perspectives to view the same problem space through the maximum number of lenses available, which leads teams into a robust solution space to generate truly unique concepts,” she continued.

Over a four day evolution, 55 participants were divided into seven teams comprised of military officers, early-career engineers and researchers. Through an iterative process, WIC teams brainstorm solutions to this year’s hypothetical question, "How might the convergence of emerging technologies offer new operational concepts and force designs to create a more effective and resilient naval, joint and coalition force across the spectrum of conflict and in all domains?"

"Our engineers don't always have military experience … Here they get some," said Lockheed Martin Senior Strategy Analyst Glen Sears. "To sit down and work through problems with recent operational officers and learn new things … Some of those impressions even lead to networks that they can use for years to come."

This year's WIC Workshop allowed the participants to innovate new ways to address concept outcomes in contested littoral warfare, integrated and joint fires, integrated deterrence, contested logistics, and cloud computing at the tactical edge. Additionally, two teams were in secured spaces facing challenges involving undersea and mine warfare. 

"One thing that I think is a huge benefit is not only the experience but the networking opportunity," said Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic Scientist Georgianna (George) Campbell. "The fact that I have met so many people, even when I was a participant, and the relationships and people I met as a participant in 2019, I currently have now in 2022. These are very important relationships that have directly impacted not only the projects that I work on, but also opportunities for me to work on." 

Kline added that the hope for these career-long networks is for them to be a catalyst for future DOD problem-solving. WIC is a perfect example of how NPS impacts the development of Naval leaders, as well as a demonstration of the interest and value in lifelong learning which has been advocated by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro.

"Based on the growing interest in the annual WIC Workshop, I expect that it will continue to be a prominent activity on the NPS calendar in the week between finals and graduation each September for many years to come, allowing NPS students the freedom to fully immerse themselves in the guided exploration of key challenges facing the U.S. DOD and impacting global security," said Englehorn. "I also hope that this annual workshop will help NPS institutionalize this sort of human-centered design approach to rapid concept generation across campus and throughout curricula."

Attendees at the workshop are even envisioning how the WIC structure and process can be applied to their own issues. Steve Tomlinson, director of intelligence strategy and policy for Australia’s Department of Defence saw potential in applying the approach to a future Five Eyes problem-solving engagement … Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

“I think it's giving people the time and space to do that divergent thinking about starting with a problem and just exploring that problem space in depth rather than just jumping straight to solution,” said Steve Tomlinson. “That's been a real eye-opener, just the power of that and seeing people work through the process.”

 

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