San Diego (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Christian "Boris" Becker, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), provided his unique perspective about the Navy information warfare platform at a joint luncheon hosted by two San Diego defense industry chapters, July 12.
The event, hosted by San Diego chapters of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and National Defense Industry Association (NDIA), drew more than 100 industry partners seeking to understand how they can support the Navy in becoming more powerful and capable.
In his remarks, Becker spoke of the increasing importance of information warfare, which stretches from seabed to space, connecting naval forces and providing situational awareness. He also noted that the importance of information warfare to the Navy has increased, and that it is now on par with the Navy's longstanding mission areas of air, surface and subsurface warfare.
Becker talked about the chief of naval operations' (CNO) recently released white paper titled, "The Future Navy," and its emphasis on networking battle fleets.
"Naval power grows with the addition of new systems, but an exponential increase in capability comes when systems are networked together," said Becker. "Ramping up to 355 ships may take decades. We don't have decades to deliver the combat power we need now."
Becker said that the key to increasing near-term combat power is found in information warfare. He highlighted the need for frequent, integrated changes and updates to capabilities to ensure that when ships deploy, they always have the latest, most effective technology possible. One way to achieve this is through hardware and software installations that are executed outside of major maintenance availabilities, instead of the usual practice of waiting for shipyard periods that may occur only once every three years.
"We need to move at the speed that industry moves today," Becker said. "Think about how fast you get updates on your iPhone or Android devices for your applications. That's the kind of agile environment we need."
Becker stated that a more transformational approach to change is needed to fully realize the potential power of information warfare.
"We need to follow the lead of commercial industry and create a cloud development environment that mirrors our shipboard configurations. This will enable rapid delivery, permit applications to change faster, and provide increased capacity that industry may harness for innovation. It also allows developers to dramatically reduce integration time by testing their software in an environment that very closely emulates what is on our ships. Using commercial cloud technology also provides the ability to ingest and analyze large volumes of data, and to scale up available computer resources when needed."
A question and answer session with Becker followed, allowing industry partners to ask candid questions about future technology, the acquisition process and where they can fit in to provide the most impact.
Becker closed by noting the key to success in information warfare acquisition is clear requirements and alignment across the Navy enterprise. He also emphasized that near term demonstrations, like the Trident Warrior exercise that tested the tactical cloud afloat, are critical to test and hone capabilities. Lastly, partnering with industry to tailor the acquisition process to deliver capabilities to the fleet faster.
"Hearing from Navy leaders like Rear Adm. Becker is absolutely critical to industry partners to support Navy information warfare," said Terry McKearney, president, NDIA San Diego chapter. "If we know the requirements, we can play a role in developing applications and sharing best practices to overcome common acquisition hurdles."
With the CNO leading the charge, information warfare and the use of networked technology is quickly becoming an important key to a more powerful, connected Navy.
"Technology is changing and our adversaries are adapting to that. The world is changing underneath us and if we don't change, we will get left behind," said Becker.
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) is the Navy acquisition command which develops, delivers, and sustains advanced information warfare capabilities for warfighters. SPAWAR, along with its system centers, space field activity, and its partnership with three program executive offices, provides the hardware and software needed to execute Navy missions. With nearly 10,000 active-duty military and civilian professionals located around the world and close to the fleet, SPAWAR is at the forefront of research, engineering, and acquisition, keeping forces connected around the globe.
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