SPAWAR combining ship and shore networks for information dominance

RADM Patrick Brady assumed command of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in August 2010. Previous flag assignments included commander of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, deputy director of Submarine Warfare and deputy commander for Undersea Warfare. His career as a submariner included command of the USS Portsmouth (SSN 707), a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered submarine. The two-star admiral responded to written questions from Defense Systems Editor-in-Chief Barry Rosenberg.

DS: You consider information dominance the Navy’s newest warfighting pillar. What was accomplished in this area in 2012?

Brady: A couple of concrete examples of direct fleet impacts of these changes in 2012 include: networking of ‘up-gunned’ patrol craft, mine-countermeasure ships and the Navy's first Afloat Forward Staging Base, USS Ponce for their Arabian Gulf deployment; the integration of information dominance into amphibious operations during exercise Bold Alligator 2012; and the development a system-of-systems architecture to support warfighting and programmatic decision-making.

Looking forward, I am intensely focused on three programs that will lay the backbone for information dominance and play a significant role in future warfighting success. First, the Consolidate Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES) is the Navy's next-generation tactical afloat network for ships at sea and will begin installation in 2013. CANES provides the common network environment that integrates systems across the ship into a single architecture. Secondly, the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) is the follow-on to the shore-based Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) for Department of the Navy personnel, and [that contract] will be awarded in 2013. Finally, the second satellite of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation will be launched from Cape Canaveral in 2013. The MUOS constellation will provide true next-generation narrowband satellite communications for the entire Department of Defense, dramatically increasing bandwidth and access.

DS: Please explain the new vision to bring together shore-based and shipboard networks, an effort that will join NGEN and CANES in a future Navy computing environment.

Brady: The Department of the Navy’s Naval Networking Environment~2016 (NNE~2016) addresses the iterative set of integrated, phased programs that guide the DON toward a future net-centric enterprise environment. This includes a highly secure and reliable enterprise-wide voice, video and data network environment that provides access to data, services and applications from anywhere in the world.

The CANES program is a key element to NNE~2016 and has several factors that will facilitate a smooth transition to the fleet. CANES provides the common network environment that integrates systems across the ship into a single architecture. CANES reflects an effective business model with proven robust technology. This isn’t some kind of elaborate science project. The network is being designed with use of commercial technologies adapted for our unique requirements. And we, the Navy, own the network, as opposed to a proprietary solution owned by a private company and all the cross-platform compatibility issues that come with that. In addition to built-in information assurance and network defense technology, CANES will feature a four-year hardware refresh cycle and a two-year software refresh cycle. Last but not least, competition will be a constant feature of the program. The contract for the initial design phase and initial installations is already underway; the full-rate production phase will be opened up completely for another round of competition.

NGEN and CANES have been developed in parallel to bring together the shore-based and shipboard networks into a seamless environment. From the wider DOD perspective, the Joint Information Environment is a U.S. Cyber Command initiative to consolidate common IT services within DOD in a similar manner to what the Navy did when we implemented NMCI and ONE-NET enterprise networks. It will be implemented in phases beginning in Europe, then the Far East and eventually CONUS. The Navy is fully engaged in the planning, and we are taking a proactive role to incorporate necessary changes into the enterprise networks today to attain alignment with the proposed architecture of the future.

DS: What is SPAWAR doing to meet Navy IT efficiencies?

Brady: We are working closely on Navy-wide initiatives to identify IT efficiencies, including those detailed in DON Chief Information Office's memo "Achieving Measurable Efficiencies Through Data Center Consolidation, System and Application Rationalization Guidance."

Over the past year, our efforts were integral to the Data Center Consolidation (DCC) Task Force’s successful identification of numerous Navy data centers to consolidate. With the policies and processes established to sustain the DCC effort, we were able to bring that experience into our Fleet Readiness Directorate and established the Data Center Application Optimization office. This shop will focus on identifying and reviewing systems and applications in use across the Navy and determine suitable candidates that will be consolidated and retired without impacting mission readiness.

Additionally, PEO EIS is the Department of the Navy’s acquisition authority to manage enterprise software licensing. In partnership with Marine Corps Systems Command and as part of DON CIO's overarching IT efficiencies initiative, PEO EIS is establishing these agreements to enable the Department’s transition from Continuity of Services Contract (for NMCI) to NGEN, increase IT cost visibility and support future network alignment. The DON awarded the first planned enterprise software licensing agreement to Microsoft in May 2012, and is targeting to award several more during the next few years.

DS: What is SPAWAR’s role in the development of mobile devices for sailors?

Brady: In accordance with the DOD Mobility Strategy, we are piloting several initiatives to promote the use of mobile devices such as Guest Wireless, Hosted Virtual Desktop and Bring Your Own Device.

Guest Wireless will enable customers with non-NMCI devices to wirelessly access the Internet at work, similar to how one would access the Internet through Wi-Fi at a coffee shop. Implementation is planned for 2013.

SPAWAR is also piloting a Hosted Virtual Desktop (HVD) capability. HVD provides NMCI users the functionality of their current NMCI workstation, but as a user-specific HVD image on NMCI-provided thin clients or non-NMCI CAC-enabled devices with an Internet connection. This secure, fast and virtual NMCI access is ideally suited for teleworking.

DS: What’s the status of MUOS?

Brady: From a broader DOD perspective, the MUOS program office has made great strides this year. As the next-generation narrowband tactical SATCOM system for DOD, MUOS will provide significantly improved and secure communications for mobile warfighters, including simultaneous voice, video and data. The first MUOS satellite was launched in February from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and testing of the legacy payload was completed in August 2012. This sets the stage for MUOS-1 to transition to its operational orbit and for U.S. Strategic Command to make the legacy capability available for operational use.

While this added capacity is much desired by warfighters, the real game-changer will be when the WCDMA, or Wideband Code Division Multiple Access, payloads are activated and operational. Following checkout of the second MUOS satellite, which is scheduled to launch in the summer of 2013, the initial WCDMA capability will be realized. Annual launches are planned thereafter until the full constellation of five satellites is on-orbit. The full MUOS constellation will enable global voice and data communications for the deployed warfighter and provide a 16-fold increase in capacity over the current legacy system.


About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.

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