Ever since the late half of the 1770s, the U.S. Navy’s commanding officers have operated around the world and around the clock. They do so often under austere conditions, always mindful of the dangers posed by enemies and dynamic physical environments. Action-oriented COs must exercise authority over their sailors and other assigned and attached combat forces in a prompt, sustained, and effective manner. The Navy’s Information Dominance Corps and its partners work to ensure that these leaders have the technological basis they need for today’s military operations and warfighting scenarios, as sophisticated state and non-state actors seek to gain control of not only the physical realm, but also the increasingly important cyber and electromagnetic (EM) domains. Our capstone tchnological capability, enabled by battlespace awareness and integrated fires, is what we call Assured Command and Control (C2).
Assured C2 Division Goals
The ongoing Assured C2 development is a critical component of the Navy’s Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance and one of the imperatives underpinning the October 2014 commissioning of the new Navy Information Dominance Forces as the Information Dominance Type Commander, according to the Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance: 2013–2017. Assured C2 drives decisive actions in areas such as the articulation and subsequent management of the U.S. Fleet Forces’ and Pacific Fleet’s warfighting requirements via the well-established Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System; the assignment and subsequent management of scarce resources via the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution process; and the alignment of Fleet-generated requirements and acquisition of community-assigned resources through the emerging Information Dominance Enterprise Architecture (IDEA). Most important, this capability will shape the plans, exercises, peacetime steaming, and combat operations of forward-postured Navy forces with the increasingly sophisticated information-technology (IT) services and solutions made available to them by the IDEA, either directly or through its rapidly growing and increasingly robust extensions into two higher-level enterprise architectures: the DOD’s unclassified, collateral, and coalition-level Joint Information Environment and the intelligence community’s (IC) compartmented IC IT Enterprise.
The goal of the recently established Assured C2 Division (OPNAV N2/N6F1) is to set conditions for achieving six strategic effects:
• People, both inside and outside the Navy, need to clearly understand, appreciate, and champion the Assured C2 capabilities that must be developed to fight and win in the Information Age.
• These proponents will act decisively in response to the Navy’s prioritized requirements for the development, deployment, and subsequent employment of those war-winning capabilities.
• Sufficient resources must be in place to ensure that decisive actions by COs and their sailors now and in the future are possible.
• The timely and efficient use of those resources will add operationally meaningful and relevant value to the globally distributed battle force and the supporting shore establishment through the IDEA.
• The IDEA must be protected, resilient, reliable, and fully optimized for the worldwide flow of voice and data communications among supported shore, afloat, and aloft COs.
• The Navy’s worldwide mesh of voice and data communications will facilitate the computerized sharing, storage, protection, and dissemination of information deemed critical to the proper conduct of forward-focused combat operations by COs and their assigned and attached forces.
Programs of Record
OPNAV N2/N6F1’s investment portfolio consists of 72 programs of record that have a combined value of $24 billion distributed across the five-year span of the Future Years Defense Program. These programs are largely executed by acquisition community mission partners such as program executive offices and subordinate program management offices aligned with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, and Naval Sea Systems Command. We’ve placed those established programs of record within six Assured C2 categories: 1) protected transport, 2) resilient networking, 3) assured applications and services, 4) trusted data, 5) managed spectrum, and 6) highly capable workforce.
The first two categories pertain to the technological infrastructure formed by secured telecommunications systems and networked computing systems on ships, submarines, aircraft, and shore stations. The third focuses on data and tools, which include advanced analytic and visualization tools. These will be employed by COs, their warfighting forces, and the other authorized users of that globally distributed communications and computing infrastructure. The fourth through sixth categories, meanwhile, comprise information assurance controls, computer network defense safeguards, EM spectrum (EMS) management mechanisms, and other IT/cyber manpower enablers needed to ensure the success of C2 endeavors under permissive, contested, and highly disputed or denied operating conditions. Together, the capabilities generated by the programs of record nested in these six categories provide a solid foundation for Assured C2.
Protected Transport and Resilient Networking
Noteworthy examples of the protected transport and resilient networking capabilities being developed and delivered for the forward-focused battle force and supporting shore establishment under the OPNAV N2/N6F1 portfolio include:
• Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES), a resilient network of seaworthy computing systems intended for delivery to nearly 200 of the Navy’s surface combatants and submarines between now and the early 2020s
• Advanced increments and service packs of the Automated Digital Networking System (ADNS), the information protocol router that firmly connects CANES and other shipboard computing networks to external telecommunications systems
• The leading-edge Navy Multiband Terminal transceiver, the standardized connection point between ADNS routers and the hundreds of satellite communications and non-SATCOM circuits that come together to form the global information grid and its many armed-service extensions
• The shore-based Next Generation Enterprise Network, which interoperates across the global information grid with other shore stations and with seagoing forces such as the surface combatants and submarines now being equipped with the Fleet-standard CANES/ADNS/Navy Multiband Terminal package
• Next Generation Enterprise’s Navy Compartmented Information (SCI) counterparts, examples of which include the Office of Naval Intelligence’s IT Enterprise and its Office of Naval Intelligence (Fleet) SCI IT and Joint Deployable Intelligence Support Systems extensions
• The nuclear command, control, and communications-enabling array of Fixed Submarine Broadcast System shore stations and E-6B MERCURY Take Charge and Move-Out Aircraft
These and other related capabilities combine to give COs and their assigned and attached operating forces supreme confidence in their ability to send and receive action traffic—including that which is transmitted at the highest precedence and classification levels (such as contested, highly contested, and denied operating conditions).
Applications and Services
The assured applications and services to be accessed by authorized users of CANES, Next Generation, and Navy SCI fixed and mobile clients throughout the world include capabilities sponsored by OPNAV N2/N6F1 and the full array of service providers from the Navy and its many DOD, intelligence community, interagency, international, and commercial partners. Among the OPNAV N2/N6F1-backed examples of those operationally vital applications and services are:
• The nearly ubiquitous Global Command and Control System-Maritime and the Global Command and Control System-Integrated Imagery and Intelligence, long the steadfast workhorses of C2-enabling common operational picture and common intelligence picture management
• The follow-on common operational picture and common intelligence picture tools in rapid development under the innovative Maritime Tactical Command and Control and Joint Deployable Intelligence Support Systems programs
• The Theater Battle Management Core System and its follow-on Navy Air Operations Command and Control suite
• The advanced analytic and visualization tools being evaluated and selected for Fleet-wide adoption by the OPNAV N2/N6F1-led Task Force Cloud, the cross-functional and cross-echelon group spearheading this sea service’s transformational adoption of cloud computing services
By having these capabilities in use, COs can trust their ability not only to send and receive action traffic but also to make prompt and effective decisions based on the increasingly large volumes and varieties of data they and their assigned and attached forces send, receive, sense, and develop during the courses of their combat operations.
It is not enough for COs to be able to make effective use of large volumes and varieties of data. These combat leaders and the forces they work with must have trust in data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. They must know that their secrets will remain secret, that their adversaries won’t be able to insert false or misleading data into the equation, and that their secure and accurate information will be there when, where, and how they need it.
While all elements of the broad and diverse OPNAV N2/N6F1 portfolio contribute to the achievement of these effects, few have as an important role to play as the components that come together to constitute trusted data capabilities. Several of those parts fall within the broad scope of the Information Systems Security Program (ISSP), which delivers fundamentally important information assurance tools such as Communications Security Materiel System devices and keying materials controlled via today’s electronic key management system and its programmed successor, the key management infrastructure. Others fall within the equally broad scope of the complementary CND program, which provides tools ranging from the widely deployed Host-Based Security System to the foundational elements of the rapidly emerging Enhanced Network Management System–dependent Navy Cyber Situational Awareness ecosystem.
Through the combined efforts of the Information Systems Security Program and CND, the Navy is rapidly enhancing its cyber-security posture and fortifying the safeguards that allow COs to prevent enemies from getting inside their decision loops. We in OPNAV N2/N6F1 are excited about how our sponsored ISSP and CND efforts will be further reinforced through the future alignment of the IDEA with the rapidly emerging and extremely promising DOD and IC Single Security Architecture, as well as the forthcoming adoption of DOD/IC-compliant solutions for identity and access management, attribute-based access control, role-based access control, smart data tagging, enterprise auditing, insider threat to cyber security counters, and other tools and techniques of the cyber-security trade.
To an increasing degree, the forward-focused and security-conscious battle force of the Navy relies heavily on its ability not only to communicate data rapidly and securely over radio-frequency (RF) channels, but to collect COP/CIP-relevant data via RF sensors, deliver RF jamming and other integrated fires effects against adversary targets identified through the analysis and visualization of data, and otherwise maneuver within the electromagnetic spectrum. The programs of record situated within the relatively small but extremely important managed spectrum portion of the OPNAV N2/N6F1 portfolio enable EM maneuver warfare.
A leading example of those critical contributors is the Shipboard EM Compatibility Improvement Program. This effort, executed under our sponsorship by the EMS management professionals of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, is aimed at assuring EMS access through engagement in the shaping of the National Broadband Plan, integrating in-depth EMS expertise early in and throughout the acquisition cycles of spectrum-dependent systems and platforms, and delivering EMS outreach and training in a manner fully aligned with and supportive of the Navy’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Usage Roadmap.
The outputs of the highly technical Shipboard EM Compatibility Improvement Program effort have direct, positive, and lasting impacts on not only engineering, acquisition, and education, but the more operationally focused actions of Navy and broader Department of the Navy elements—for example, another of our sponsored organizations, the Navy and Marine Corps Spectrum Center, which plays the central role in orchestrating the day-to-day coordination of EMS usage within the DOD and across the interagency and international collective. These operational effects will be even more positive and pronounced as we continue the at-sea employment of the relatively powerful Afloat EMS Operations program toolset and then proceed with fielding the even more powerful Real-Time Spectrum Operations, a new and highly automated capability designed to give operational COs the ability to understand and drive their forces’ use of EMS resources at sea.
Highly Capable Workforce
Over the decades, many informed observers have asserted that people matter most and that the human factor is the single most important determinant of success or failure in naval warfare. The primacy of highly qualified, capable, and courageous sailors is a tenet that applies to yesteryear’s Age of Fighting Sail just as it does to today’s Information Age. This is something that we have very much kept in mind while thinking about how best to turn a soulless collection of technologically sophisticated but otherwise valueless telecommunications circuits, computer networks, software applications, security devices, and EMS management tools into a globally distributed Assured C2 platform capable of helping COs and their personnel take the fight to the enemy and win decisively.
Keeping this factor in mind drives us as we exercise good stewardship and, in many cases, direct resource sponsorship over the Navy’s blended workforce of information systems technician-enlisted personnel, information professional officers, other uniformed military personnel involved in the IT/cyber trade, their civil service colleagues, and their contractor counterparts. This diverse workforce of personnel operates, maintains, and defends the worldwide network of Assured C2 capabilities for our COs and sailors. These talented individuals deserve world-class training and education and continuous professional development. They should also have the tools to succeed in network operations and computer network defense, as well as every other task required of them by the Navy, which is intent on fully leveraging the power of IT.
OPNAV N2/N6F1 is committed to making the hard resource-sponsorship decisions needed to set conditions for every member of the Assured C2–enabling IT/cyber workforce to succeed, from recruitment to retirement. We have proven this commitment through ongoing efforts like the Digital Tutor and the Intelligent Tutoring Authoring and Delivery System. Through these projects, the commercial IT industry’s best practices, innovative technological solutions, and seasoned professionals will be accessible to young IT/cyber sailors, in particular those preparing for the first time to go to sea.
As our IT/cyber sailors report to their ships, submarines, squadrons, and shore stations, it will be extremely important to assess their readiness and identify the manpower, training, and equipment actions needed to help them operate at the highest readiness levels possible. With this urgency in mind, we are working alongside our OPNAV N4 partners, the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, the cadre of the soon-to-be-commissioned Navy Information Dominance Forces, and other stakeholders to integrate Assured C2 into the Navy’s Integrated Readiness Assessment process. The effort is doing much to help us fine-tune and otherwise improve our application of scarce resources across the Assured C2 portfolio. It is also causing us to begin viewing Assured C2—and by extension, information dominance—more holistically, joining other naval-warfare communities in taking into full account the personnel, equipment, supply, training, and ordnance pillars of operational readiness. This more expansive view will allow us to set conditions for the IT/cyber workforce, the COs who lead and receive support from them, and other C2 professionals and practitioners.
Clearly, much work is already under way within this Assured C2 community of interest, which seeks to maximize operational readiness by developing a highly capable IT/cyber workforce and an equally capable, Joint Information Environment/Information Technology Enterprise–aligned Information Dominance Enterprise Architecture. This will consist of globally postured protected transport, resilient networking, assured applications and services, trusted data, and managed spectrum capabilities. The outcomes of that ongoing effort, orchestrated by OPNAV N2/N6F1 and its many Fleet and acquisition community mission partners, will do much to ensure that the Navy’s forward-deployed COs will continue to achieve decisive overmatch in the dynamic operating environments they encounter.
Captain Page, his deputy director, is an information-dominance warfare officer and long-serving special duty officer (intelligence). Together they lead more than 60 military, civil service, and contractor professionals.