Tag Archives: Information Warfare

Standing Up the NIWDC with CAPT John Watkins

By Sally Deboer

CIMSEC was recently joined by Captain John Watkins, the first commanding officer of  the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center (NIWDC). Read on to learn about this new command’s role in shaping the U.S. Navy’s information warfighting skills and capabilities.

SD: We are joined by CAPT John Watkins, the first commanding officer of the newly opened Naval Information Warfighting Development Center. It is truly an honor to have you here. Before we begin, can you share a bit about yourself and your background?

JW: Thanks first and foremost for having me, it’s an honor for me as well. I came into the Navy in 1992 as a Surface Warfare Officer and completed various tours in engineering. I did that for roughly five years and really enjoyed it, but subsequent to those tours I attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California where I achieved a Master’s degree in IT Management during which time I laterally transferred into the space and electronic warfare community. A few years transpired and that community was subsumed into the information professional community that we know of today, which comes with the 1820 designator.

Since being an IP, I’ve had multiple operational and staff tours, to include XO of USS Coronado, serving as N6 and Information Warfare Command on Expeditionary and Carrier Strike Group Staffs, and as the N6 on a Numbered Fleet staff. Staff tours have included time on the OPNAV and SURFACE FORCES staffs. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have had multiple command tours including NAVCOMTELSTA San Diego, Navy Information Operations Command Texas, and now just recently, my assignment here at the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center.  

SD: Let’s kick off by introducing our readers to your new command. Initial operating capability for the NIWDC was declared on 27 March 2017. Could you please explain the role of this warfighting development center, and specifically the mission of the NIWDC within the information domain?

JW: Like the other warfighting development centers (WDC), we are all focused on four primary lines of operation. First, we’re concerned with enhancing advanced level training. As you can imagine, in terms of NIWDC, that entails all of our information-related capabilities. The advanced level training for our units and forces in the fleet occurs at the latter stages of the optimized fleet response plan (OFRP). We’re heavily invested in that along with our fellow WDCs.

The second line of operation is the development of doctrine that allows us to achieve that advanced level of proficiency – doctrine including tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), standard operating procedures (SOPs), higher level Concepts of Operation (CONOPS), or as necessary, revisions to Naval Warfare publications.

The third line of operation is to cultivate and develop a subject matter expertise known throughout all the WDCs as a ‘warfare tactics instructor’ or WTIs. Other WDCs have WTIs in place today, for example, the model that has been around longest is the Naval Aviation WDC, “Top Gun,” associated with advanced tactics for jet fighting, air-to-air combat, etc. What we want to do here at NIWDC is to build out our own WTI pipeline, which I think of as the “Information Warfare Jedi Knights” of the future; we’ll have quite a few WTI pipelines, as we have a broad spectrum of capabilities.

Last but not least, we’ll have an organic assessments capability built into the command which allows us to, in an OODA loop fashion, assess our advanced level training capabilities, our TTPs and SSPs, and our doctrine as we bake it into our training pipeline and processes, ensuring it is delivering optimal IW warfighting effects. Those are the four lines of operation that were promulgated to the WDCs, directed by the Chief of Naval Operations, in 2014.

SD: The traditional warfare Type Commanders (Air, Surface, Undersea) have established their own warfare development centers, as you mentioned. Given that IW is a critical enabler of other warfare areas, how do you envision the NIWDC interacting with the other warfare development centers? What key IW concepts and understandings should be incorporated by other communities?

JW: That’s a fantastic question. NIWDC just achieved IOC designation in late March, and the good news is that while we are the last WDC to be stood up, we already have IW community professionals, both enlisted and officer, arrayed across the other WDCs today, totaling about 150 people, who are working Information Warfare expertise into Naval warfighting. Even as we’re building up to this capability, our folks that have been embedded throughout the other WDCs have done a remarkable job laying the groundwork and foundation for us to come to fruition as the NIWDC. This is significant because the information-related capabilities that we bring to bear are so ingrained in all the other mission warfare areas of the Navy that we have to be interlinked with the other WDCs and visa-versa.

As we build up our capabilities here, we’d like to see the reciprocal detailing back and forth – where ideally we’ll have Surface Warfare Officers, Submariners, Aviators, etc., embedded and billeted to the NIWDC. That’s the future, and it’s absolutely imperative that we get to that point – to have that common back and forth day in and day out as we’re contemplating modern day warfare – it’s essential for us to understand the other warfare areas, their requirements, how our systems are interdependent, and how we have to operate in real time to optimize our overarching warfare capabilities.

SD: You recently stated, “a key objective of the NIWDC is to provide hard-hitting, fleet-relevant information warfighting effects…” Can you outline what some of those effects might be and what specific mission areas within Information Warfare (IW) they support? 

JW: I think the best way I can answer that question is to describe how we’re building out the command here today. We’ve established a headquarters staff that will manage seven core Mission Area Directorates, or what we refer to as “MADs.”

Those Mission Area Directorates include an Assured command-and-control and CyberSpace Operations MAD, a Space Operations MAD, a Meteorology MAD, an Intelligence MAD, a Cryptology MAD, an Electronic Warfare MAD, and an Information Operations MAD. Laying that all out, we can generate information warfare effects from any of those Mission Areas—but when combined, it becomes extremely optimal. It’s the traditional ‘sum of the parts’ principle.

As we develop our organization here, another big effort we’re putting into play in the larger Navy is the Information Warfare Commander construct, which is an organization led by a fully board-screened senior Information Warfare Community Captain (O-6). I’ll describe the construct at the tactical level for now because I think it will be the best way to articulate where we’re headed in employing our model. On a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) staff, for example, we have the Information Warfare Commander (IWC)—again, that board-screened IW Community Captain, who is providing leadership and oversight on core IW mission areas run by the N2 Intelligence Officer, the N39 Cryptologic Officer, the N6 Communications officer, and to the extent where we can get it into play, the Meteorological officer, who at the end of the day, all work for this O-6 IWC. The entire IWC organization works for the Carrier Strike Commander similar to a Destroyer Squadron or Carrier Air Group Commander.  

Where the synergistic effect really comes in is in information operations planning. If you think across typical phased wartime planning scenarios, the folks that are sitting down at the table in the IWC organization bringing their skills and attributes to the team while enabling holistic planning across all phases of warfare, achieve tremendous synergy and total awareness of the  interdependencies and linkages across their mission areas. This powerful effect cannot be overemphasized. Planning in individual stovepipes, i.e. within traditional N Head silos like the N2, the N39, N6 or Meteorology, is counterproductive in today’s modern warfare continuum. It’s essential that planning along these lines factors in and accounts for the coordination and integration of needs and requirements of our fellow Composite Warfare Commanders. When done correctly, we give our collective Navy team every advantage possible to win when we need to. Suffice it to say, I’m very excited about where we’re headed and how we’re going to make our phenomenal Naval warfighting prowess even better!

SD: There seems to be growing agreement that in future conflict, naval forces will not enjoy undisputed access to the electromagnetic spectrum. How will naval information warfare capabilities enable distributed operations when the spectrum required for C4ISR is being, denied, degraded, disrupted and subject to deception operations?

JW: That’s another great question that we are constantly focused on. We all acknowledge the fact that in modern warfare scenarios, the likelihood that we will have denied or degraded communications is a given. Frankly, it’s almost no longer an assumption—it’s reality. Simply put, we need to be able to retain organic capabilities as much as possible wherever we are, so that if we lose the link back to the beach, we can still function and fight.

To that end, we’ve got to be able to train, operate, and be proficient in fighting in those types of scenarios. We’re all about getting at that advanced level of necessary training here at the NIWDC.

SD: How do you propose addressing the acquisition and fielding of new information technology (cyber/EW/IW) and developing TTPs under the current DOD acquisition system?

JW: Acquisition is an evolving process, and I think acquisition reform surfaces quite frequently anytime we talk about the dynamics of advancing IT. The rate of advancement in technology is astounding, and the acquisition process needs to be agile enough to keep pace. To that end, we’ve looked for creative and innovative ways within our acquisition process to accelerate and expedite systems that facilitate IW warfighting effects and we need to continue doing so. NIWDC participates in many experimentation and innovation venues that help facilitate that speed-to-fleet dynamic and we’re excited to be a partner in those efforts.    

To your question about the TTPs and SOPs – when we introduce new tech to the fleet, it is important that we have TTPs and SOPs built into them from day one. We’ve got to be able to deliver a product that comes with robust training behind it so that when it’s delivered to the fleet, our sailors can put it into immediate effect. The TTPs and SOPs that accompany that capability need to be solid enough out of the gate so that we achieve immediate success from day one of fielding.  

On top of that, what I want to achieve at the NIWDC is the ability to refine and tweak TTPs and SOPs at a high rate – what I call the “wash, rinse, repeat” approach. There’s no reason we can’t take those TTPs and SOPs, have sailors put them into effect, provide their feedback to us if they’re not quite right and suggest course corrections, then update those on a continuous, OODA-loop basis until we have delivered optimal doctrine.

SD: Our adversaries approach the information space (IW/EW/cyber) holistically, blending electronic and information warfare with cyberspace operations, psychological operations, deception – and conduct these operations across all elements of national power (diplomatic, economic, legal, military, information). What steps are you taking to ensure the Navy is developing information warfare strategies, operational concepts, and TTPs that cut across all elements of national power?

JW: I’ll give you an example – that’s the best way I can answer this question – it’s a great question, but one you could spend an hour answering. Earlier in our discussion, we talked about the IWC construct. I’m a firm believer that if we get that instituted correctly and make it a robust organization with the goal of delivering those optimal IW effects that it will serve as the bedrock going forward across the Navy enterprise. We’ll look to institute that construct, as applicable, by using that optimized model at the tactical level and building out from there to implement at the operational and strategic levels.

Back to the point about our adversaries – when they’re exploiting all this goodness and delivering their effects, they are planning across the DOTMPLF (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities) spectrum. We must do the same thing with our IWC Construct. At the NIWDC, in partnership with IFOR, this is one of our tasks – to perform this DOTMPLF analysis that will codify the IWC construct. We’ve been tasked by Fleet Forces Command and PACFLT to do just that – this will be one of our top objectives in the first years here at the NIWDC – to ensure we’re setting ourselves up for success for decades to come.

SD: Last but not least – if our listeners are new to information warfare, can you suggest any resources or reading materials that could help the less tech-inclined among us become more familiar with the domain and more ready to address its unique challenges?

JW: There are so many great reference materials, but perhaps the quickest way to answer that is to recommend your readers and listeners go to our command website and InfoDOMAIN, or our Navy News Web page or Facebook page. We have a lot of good products posted there – that would be a great start. We have some items posted there that are specific to the NIWDC, so if your readers want more information or a summary, they can find it there as well.

SD: Thank you so much for your time today, CAPT Watkins. It’s truly been an honor speaking with you, and we thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to help educate us on your new command and the role of IW in the Navy and DoD going forward. We hope you’ll join us again sometime. 

Captain John Watkins is a native of California, where he went on to graduate from the NROTC program at the University of San Diego obtaining his commission in 1991. He joined the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center as the commanding officer in March of 2017.

Sally DeBoer is an Associate Editor with CIMSEC, and previously served as CIMSEC’s president from 2016-2017. 

Featured Image: Chief Fire Controlman Daniel Glatz, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, stands watch in the combat information center aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56). (Alonzo M. Archer/U.S. Navy)

Advancing Information Warfare and Reforming Naval Intelligence

By Mark Munson

Earlier this year, Admiral John Richardson, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, released his Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, articulating a vision for how the Navy intends to both deter conflict and conduct “decisive combat operations to defeat any enemy.” Some of the factors it identifies as making the maritime system “more heavily used, more stressed, and more contested than ever before” include expanded trade, the impact of climate change opening sea lanes in the Arctic, increased undersea exploitation of the seabed, and illicit trafficking.

As U.S. Navy operations afloat take place within a more contested maritime system, the need for better “Battlespace Awareness,” one of the three “Fundamental Capabilities” identified in the Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance, is clear. Battlespace Awareness requires a deep and substantive understanding of the maritime system as a whole, including tasks such as the “persistent surveillance of the maritime and information battlespace,” “an understanding of when, where, and how our adversaries operate,” and comprehension of the civil maritime environment.

The U.S. Navy operates across a spectrum ranging from simple presence operations, maritime security, strike warfare ashore in support of land forces, to potential high-end conflict at sea and even strategic nuclear strike from ballistic missile submarines. These operations do not occur in a vacuum, but in a highly complex and dynamic international environment that continues to require real expertise, particularly in its uniquely maritime aspects.

Chokepoints and popular world trading routes illustrate the complicated nature of the maritime domain. (Atlantic Council)
Chokepoints and popular world trading routes illustrate the complicated nature of the maritime domain. (Atlantic Council)

To execute these operations the U.S. Navy needs an intelligence arm employing experts that understand the details of the maritime system and how it can impact naval operations at sea. Three ways to move towards achieving real expertise in the maritime environment include:

  • Fielding better analytic tools and using advanced analytics to assist in collection, exploitation, and all-source fusion
  • Deploying intelligence analysts and tools to lower echelon units closer to the fight
  • Training intelligence personnel in vital skills such as foreign languages

Task 1: Improve Use of Advanced Analytics and Sophisticated Tools

The Design portrays a world in which rapid technological change and broadened access to computing power have narrowed the distance between the U.S. Navy and potential competitors. Wealthy states no longer have a built-in military advantage simply by having access to immense sums of money to invest in military platforms and weapons, including communications and information technology.

The Design notes that this advantage has been eroded as new technologies are “being adopted by society just as fast – people are using these new tools as quickly as they are introduced, and in new and novel ways.” Virtually anyone now has the ability to access and analyze information in ways that were previously only the preserve of the most advanced intelligence agencies. Indeed, today’s “information system is more pervasive, enabling an even greater multitude of connections between people and at a much lower cost of entry – literally an individual with a computer is a powerful actor in the system.”

This story of rapid technological change does not necessarily have to be one where the leader in a particular field inevitably loses ground to more nimble pursuers. The explosion of “Big Data” gives the U.S. Navy opportunities in which to better understand the maritime system, provide persistent surveillance of the maritime environment, and achieve what the Information Dominance Strategy describes as “penetrating knowledge of the capabilities and intent of our adversaries.”

In addition to an explosion of social media across the planet that provides readily exploitable data for analysis, the maritime environment has its own unique indicators and observables. One example of the ways publicly or commercially available data can be used to develop operationally relevant understanding of maritime phenomena was a 2013 study by C4DS that detailed how Russia has used commercial maritime entities to supply the Syrian government with weapons.

DigitalGlobe's Worldview-3 satellite was launched in 2014 and provides commercial imagery with a 31cm (12in) resolution. (DigitalGlobe)
DigitalGlobe’s Worldview-3 satellite was launched in 2014 and provides commercial imagery with a 31cm (12in) resolution. (DigitalGlobe)

Nation-states and their agencies no longer control the raw materials of intelligence by monopolizing capital-intensive signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) collection platforms or dissemination systems. Anyone can now access huge amounts of potentially informative data. The barrier to entry for analytic tools has drastically declined as well. An organization that can develop analytic tools to exploit the explosion of data could rival the impact that British and U.S. experts in Operations Analysis achieved during the Second World War by improving Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) efforts in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The navy that can successfully exploit the data environment and make it relevant to operations afloat will be better positioned to formulate responses to challenges fielded by potential adversaries often characterized by the now discouraged term “Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2AD).” With the barrier to entry for advanced analytics and use of statistical techniques so low, it would be criminal to not apply cutting edge methods to the various analytic problems faced by intelligence professionals.

Task 2: Employ Intelligence Tools at the Tactical Edge

For a variety of historical and technical reasons, all-source intelligence fusion for the U.S. Navy has generally taken place at the “force” or “operational” levels; typically by an afloat Carrier Strike Group (CSG), Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), or numbered Fleet staff, rather than with the forward-most tactical units. Since at least the Second World War, the U.S. Navy has emphasized the importance of deploying intelligence staff with operational commanders to ensure that intelligence meets that commander’s requirements, rather than relying on higher echelon or national-level intelligence activities to be responsive to operational or tactical requirements.

Advanced analytic programs, like Analyst Notebook shown in the screen shot above, can enable intelligence personnel at the tactical level to tailor analysis to their unit's requirements- as long as those programs are pushed down to them. (Image: Army-Technology.com)
Advanced analytic programs, like Analyst Notebook shown in the screen shot above, can enable intelligence personnel at the tactical level to tailor analysis to their unit’s requirements- as long as those programs are pushed down to them. (Image: Army-Technology.com)

Since the Cold War, technological limitations such as the large amounts of bandwidth required for satellite transmission of raw imagery had limited the dissemination of “national” intelligence to large force-level platforms and their counterparts ashore. The need to exploit organic intelligence collected by an embarked carrier air wing, coupled with the technological requirements for bandwidth and analytic computing power, made the carrier the obvious location to fuse nationally-collected and tactical intelligence into a form usable by the Carrier Strike Group and the focal point for deployed operational intelligence afloat.

With computing power no longer an obstacle, however, only manpower and the ability to wirelessly disseminate information prevents small surface combatants, submarines, aircraft, and expeditionary units from using all-source analysis tailored to their tactical commander’s needs. The Intelligence Carry-on Program (ICOP) provides one solution by equipping Independent Duty Intelligence Specialists onboard surface combatants like Aegis cruisers and destroyers (CG/DDGs) with intelligence tools approaching the capability of those available to their colleagues on the big decks.

The next step for Naval Intelligence in taking advantage of these new technologies is to determine whether it is best to train non-intelligence personnel already aboard tactical units to better perform intelligence tasks, or deploy more intelligence analysts to the tactical edge of the fleet. Additionally, Naval Intelligence must advocate for systems to ensure that vital information and intelligence can actually get to the fleet via communications paths that enable the transmission of nationally-derived products in the most austere of communications environments.

There is an additional benefit to pushing intelligence analysis down-echelon. The potential for an enemy to deny satellite communications means that the ability of a tactical-level commander to make informed decisions becomes even more important. The Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority argues that “one clear implication of the current environment is the need for the Navy to prepare for decentralized operations, guided by the commander’s intent.”

The F2T2EA targeting process is inextricably linked with intelligence functions for collection and assessment. (Image: NAVAIR)
The F2T2EA targeting process is inextricably linked with intelligence functions for collection and assessment. (Image: NAVAIR)

Five of the six steps of the “Kill Chain” or “Dynamic Targeting” process of Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, and Assess (F2T2EA) involve intelligence. These include tasks such as detecting and characterizing emerging targets (Find), identifying potential targets in time and space (Fix), observing and monitoring the target (Track), the decision to engage the target (Target), and assessment of the action against the target (Assess). Decentralized operations require the ability to apply more or all steps of the Kill Chain at the tactical edge meaning forward units need an organic intelligence capability.

Enabling tactical units to perform intelligence tasks essential to the Kill Chain at the tactical edge through trained manpower and better intelligence tools could greatly enhance the ability of afloat forces to operate in a what are sometimes described as Disrupted, Disconnected, Intermittent, and Limited bandwidth environments (D-DIL). Potential adversaries have developed a wide variety of capabilities in the information domain that would deny the U.S. military free access to wireless communications and information technology in order to “challenge and threaten the ability of U.S. and allied forces both to get to the fight and to fight effectively once there.” In a possible future war at sea where deployed combatants cannot rely on the ability to securely receive finished national- or theater-level intelligence, the ability to empower tactical-level intelligence analysts is a war-winning capability.

Task 3: Develop Widespread Language and Cultural Understandings

One of the Design’s four lines of effort is to “Achieve High Velocity Learning at Every Level” by applying “the best concepts, techniques, and technologies to accelerate learning as individuals, teams, and organization.” It also calls for a Navy that can “understand the lessons of history so as not to relearn them.” The irony here is that Naval Intelligence continues to ignore one of its most successful education efforts in history: the interwar program that detailed dozens of officers to study Japanese language and culture in Japan (with others studying Chinese and Russian in China and Eastern Europe) during the inter-war years.

LCDR Layton and LT Rochefort's intelligence efforts were so effective in determining the Japanese plans that on the day of the battle, Admiral Nimitz remarked "well, you were only five minutes, five degrees, and five miles out." (Image: 'Midway - Dauntless Victory' by Peter C Smith)
LCDR Layton and LT Rochefort’s intelligence efforts were so effective in determining the Japanese plans that on the day of the battle, Admiral Nimitz remarked “well, you were only five minutes, five degrees, and five miles out.” (Image: ‘Midway – Dauntless Victory’ by Peter C Smith)

Emphasizing the importance of language training and regional expertise would seem obvious goals for Naval Intelligence in light of the Information Dominance Strategy’s call for “penetrating knowledge” and deep understanding of potential adversaries. The direct result of sending men like Joe Rochefort and Eddie Layton to Japan to immerse themselves in that society was victory in the Central Pacific at Midway in June 1942.

While there are language training programs available to the U.S. Navy officer corps as a whole (such as the Olmsted Scholar program), they are not designed to provide relevant language or expertise of particular countries or regions for intelligence purposes. If Olmsted is the way which Navy Intelligence plans to bring deep language and regional expertise into the officer corps, it has done a poor job in terms of ensuring Intelligence Officers are competitive candidates as the annual NAVADMIN messages indicate that only eight have been accepted into the program since 2008.

There has been much debate in recent years, particularly heated in the various, military blogs, over the relative importance of engineering degrees versus liberal arts for U.S. Navy officers. What has been left out of that debate is the obvious benefit associated with non-technical education in foreign languages. A deep understanding of foreign languages and cultures is not just relevant to Naval Intelligence in a strictly SIGINT role. Having intelligence professionals fluent in the language of potential adversaries (and allies) allows deep understanding of foreign military doctrine and the cultural framework in which a foreign military operates.

Foreign language expertise for a naval officer is not a new concept. In the late nineteenth century prospective Royal Navy officers had to prove they could read and write French in order to achieve appointment as a cadet, and officers were encouraged to learn foreign languages. Interestingly, the U.S. Naval Academy does not require midshipmen majoring in in Engineering, Mathematics, or Science to take foreign language courses.

Conclusion

Naval Intelligence is vitally relevant to the U.S. Navy’s afloat operations, but can be significantly improved by taking advantage of the current technological revolutions in data and data exploitation. While the Design uses new terminology and does not address intelligence’s role specifically, the core missions and tasks of Naval Intelligence remain the same as they were in 1882 when Lieutenant Theodorus Mason started work at the newly established Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). Maritime experts can provide the decisive edge in combat operations through more advanced and sophisticated tools, by pushing intelligence expertise to the tactical edge to advise front-line commanders and mitigate new high-end threats, and by applying more detailed knowledge of the languages and cultures of potential adversaries in the most challenging environments.

Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson is a naval intelligence officer assigned to United States Africa Command. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official viewpoints or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

Featured Image: 140717-N-TG831-028 WATERS TO THE WEST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (July 17, 2014) Operations Specialist 1st Class Brian Spear, from Senoia, Georgia, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100), stands watch in the combat information center. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes/Released)

Navy Information Warfare — What is it?

By Richard Mosier

Defining a warfare area’s mission and function is the foundation for all activities required to conduct mission area analysis to determine requirements, develop doctrine and tactics, and structure, train, and equip the fleet to accomplish the mission.

Within the U.S. Navy, the terms Information Warfare (IW), Information Operations (IO), and Information Operations Warfare are widely used but not well defined. Nor are they linked to provide coherent definitions from joint and service perspectives that are essential to successful communication regarding IW’s relationship to other warfare areas and supporting activities. The result is confusion and a lack of progress in structuring, training, and equipping the U.S. Navy to perform this emerging predominant warfare area.

The following are examples of how these terms mean different things to different groups:

Reference: Station Hypo, 14 Jul 16, “CWOBC, a Community’s Course“: “The Cryptologic Warfare Officer Basic Course (CWOBC) formerly known as the Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC) is an entry level course for all officers, regardless of commission source, who are coming into the Cryptologic Warfare Officer (CWO) community. Six weeks in length with an average annual throughput of 154, the course focuses on Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Warfare (EW), Cyber Operations, as well as security fundamentals and community history.” Inasmuch as the content of the basic course remained the same, the terms “Information Warfare” and “Cryptologic Warfare” appear to mean the same thing for this group.  

150828-N-PU674-005 PENSACOLA, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2015) Officers attending the Information Professional Basic Course at Center for Information Dominance Unit Corry Station listen to Rear Adm. Daniel J. MacDonnell, commander of Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command (IDCRC) and Reserve deputy commander of Navy Information Dominance Forces (NAVIDFOR). Macdonnell spoke with them about career opportunities in the Information Dominance Corps and active and reserve integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Carla M. McCarthy/Released)
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2015) Officers attending the Information Professional Basic Course at Center for Information Dominance Unit Corry Station listen to Rear Adm. Daniel J. MacDonnell, commander of Information Dominance Corps Reserve Command (IDCRC) and Reserve deputy commander of Navy Information Dominance Forces (NAVIDFOR). Macdonnell spoke with them about career opportunities in the Information Dominance Corps and active and reserve integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Carla M. McCarthy/Released)

Reference the BUPERS Information Warfare Community Management web page. It only addresses Information Professionals (1820), Cryptologic Warfare Specialists (1810), Cyber Warfare Engineers (1840), Intelligence Officers (1830), and Oceanography Specialists (1800), implying that together this aggregation of legacy support specialties constitutes Information Warfare. All of these are restricted line designators that by definition exercise command only over organizations that perform these specialties. There are no unrestricted line designators for specializing in and exercising Information Operations Warfare Commander (IWC) functions described in Naval Warfare Publication NWP 3-56 below.

Reference: NAVADMIN 023/16, DTG 021815 Feb 16, Subject: Information Dominance Corps Re-designated Information Warfare Community. The message states Information Warfare’s mission is: “providing sufficient overmatch in command and control, understanding the battlespace and adversaries, and projecting power through and across all domains.” This description of the Information Warfare mission is substantially different from the definition of Information Operations defined by Secretary of Defense, adopted by the JCS, and reflected in Naval Warfare Publications.

The Secretary of Defense defines Information Operations in DOD Directive 3600.1, dated May 2, 2013, as: “The integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.” This definition was incorporated in Joint Pub 1-02 and Naval Warfare Publications.

Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 3-13 Information Operations, Feb 2014, defines Information Operations as: “the integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.” Paragraph 1-3 states: “Evolving joint and Navy doctrine has refined IO as a discrete warfare area, not just a supporting function or enabling capability, and the IE [information environment] as a valuable and contested part of the battlespace.”

160123-N-PU674-018 PENSACOLA, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2016) Information warfare Sailors from the Center for Information Dominance Unit Corry Station mentor high school students during CyberThon, an event designed to develop the future cybersecurity workforce. Hosted by the Blue Angels Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, CyberThon challenged the students to play the role of newly hired information technology professionals tasked with defending their company's network. (U.S. Navy photo by Carla M. McCarthy/Released)
PENSACOLA, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2016) Information warfare Sailors from the Center for Information Dominance Unit Corry Station mentor high school students during CyberThon, an event designed to develop the future cybersecurity workforce. Hosted by the Blue Angels Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, CyberThon challenged the students to play the role of newly hired information technology professionals tasked with defending their company’s network. (U.S. Navy photo by Carla M. McCarthy/Released)

Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 3-56, subject: Composite Warfare Commander, Feb 2010, Paragraph 3.7 identifies twenty-three typical functions assigned to the “Information Operations Warfare Commander (IWC)” that are summarized below:

  • Planning IO, EW, Military Deception, Operations Security, PSYOP, and Spectrum Usage.  
  • Developing, coordinating, and practicing preplanned responses for counter-surveillance, counter-influence, and counter-targeting in response to changes in the tactical situation.        
  • Recommending the EMCON profile and coordinating with ASWC to manage acoustic emissions in response to changes in the tactical situation.
  • Controlling ES and EA assets, and coordinating employment of ES and cryptologic sensors.
  • Conducting computer Network Defense (CND) and COMSEC monitoring.
  • Paragraph 4.3.4 states; “The IWC establishes and maintains the tactical picture….” It also states: [T]he IWC ….. achieves and maintains information superiority….and supports other warfare commanders.”

The term Information Operations is officially defined and documented. The term Information Warfare, though used extensively within the Navy, is not clearly defined, nor is it linked to Information Operations, resulting in confusion and limited progress.

VADM Jan Tighe assumed duties as OPNAV N2/N6 and Director of Naval Intelligence in July 2016. Image credit: US Navy
VADM Jan Tighe assumed duties as OPNAV N2/N6 and Director of Naval Intelligence in July 2016. (U.S. Navy photo)

For example, within the OPNAV Staff the N-2/N-6 carries the title Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare. He/she leads the “Navy Information Warfare Community” which so far is composed only of the legacy support specialties of Intelligence, Cryptology, METOC and IT. To date, there is little to suggest that the OPNAV N-2/N-6 has assumed responsibility for mission analysis, requirements definitions, and structuring, training, and equipping the fleet to achieve superiority over an adversary through Information Operations. Moreover, there is little suggesting recognition that Information Operations Warfare Commander (IWC) functions require performance in a command capacity (IWC), specialized training, and substantial systems functionality that has to be integrated with, rather than separate from, the combat systems that support other warfare areas.

CNO NAVADMIN 083/12, DTG 121702ZMAR12, Subject: OPNAV Realignment, lays out that the DCNO for Warfare Systems (N9) “is responsible for the integration of manpower, training, sustainment, modernization, and procurement readiness of the Navy’s warfare systems.” The N9 supplies leadership, guidance, and direction to the directors of Expeditionary Warfare (N95), Surface Warfare (N96), Undersea Warfare (N97), and Air Warfare (N98). The organization also oversees requirements and resource allocation across these warfare areas. Information Operations is not mentioned. From all indications, the N9 is not responsible for integrating IW/IO combat system functionality with the combat systems that support planning and execution in the traditional warfare areas. Given the functions of the IWC summarized above, combat systems integration is essential for mission success. This suggests the need for a well defined relationship between the N-9 and the N-2/N-6.

In order to eliminate confusion and realize the potential contribution of Information Operations to naval warfare, the U.S. Navy needs to formally (1) define the IW mission, (2) specify IW functions to be accomplished by personnel, organizations, and systems, and (3) assign IW organizational responsibilities. The following are proposed definitions.

Mission

Per JP 1-02, Information Operations is “the integrated employment, during military operations, of information-related capabilities in concert with other lines of operation to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the decision making of adversaries and potential adversaries while protecting our own.”  

This definition, focused on “operations” or “employment” would be retained.  However, it does not satisfy the JP 1-02 criteria of “mission”: “The task, together with the purpose, that clearly indicates the action to be taken and the reason therefore.”  The mission statement should be focused not on employment, but on the warfare task, purpose, action to be taken and the reason therefore. This translates to the need for the term “Information Warfare.” The following is offered as a statement of the mission of Naval Information Warfare:

That portion of naval warfare in which operations are conducted to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp the enemy’s human and automated decision making to gain warfighting advantages over the adversary, while protecting our own.

Functions

JP 1-02 defines “Function” as: “The broad, general, and enduring role for which an organization is designed, equipped, and trained.” The following is offered as a statement of the functions of Navy Information Warfare:

Naval Information Warfare functions are to achieve superior situation awareness and combat command decisions; influence enemy decisions; deny the enemy information superiority; disrupt enemy decision making; and  protect and defend own force information and information systems from external or internal threats.

Tasks

JP1-02 defines “Task” as: A clearly defined action or activity specifically assigned to an individual or organization that must be done as it is imposed by an appropriate authority. A discrete event or action that enables a mission or function to be accomplished.”

IW tasks are those tasks considered essential for the accomplishment of assigned or anticipated missions. After defining IW mission and functions, mission area analysis can proceed to identify mission essential tasks, and define required operational capabilities derived therefrom.

In summary, IW is a predominant warfare area that has the unrealized potential to be a major factor in prevailing in naval warfare with a near-peer adversary through the employment of Information Operations. A clear definition of IW missions, functions, and assignment of responsibilities for requirements, resource sponsorship, acquisition, and combat systems integration would serve to place this warfare area on a firm footing and serve a foundation for the realization of its significant potential contribution to combat success.  

Richard Mosier is a former naval aviator, intelligence analyst at ONI, OSD/DIA SES 4, and systems engineer specializing in Information Warfare. The views express herein are solely those of the author.

Featured Image: PENSACOLA, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2011) The Center for Information Dominance (CID) has become the first non-operational shore command approved for the newly created Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialty pin. (U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols/Released)

Tactical Information Warfare and Distributed Lethality

Distributed Lethality Topic Week

By Richard Mosier

Background

The U.S. Navy’s distributed lethality strategy is to deny sea control to adversaries claiming sovereignty over international waters through the use of small offensive Surface Action Groups (SAGs) that operate in areas covered by the adversary’s anti-access, sea denial sensor systems and supported by land based command and control, interior lines of communication, and defensive platforms and weapons. The Navy strategy is for these SAGs to transit to positions to attack enemy ISR, command and control, and defending forces; and deny them sea control. The success of distributed operations ultimately depends on Information Warfare (IW) operations to deny the enemy the data required to target and attack Surface Action Groups.

Anti-access, sea denial capabilities of near-peer nations present a high threat to surface navy operations. The use of multiple offensive SAGs complicates the enemy’s defense but only if these groups avoid detection, tracking, targeting, and attack. If they operate with active sensors, datalinks and voice and network communications transmitting, they reveal their location, track, classification/identification, and group composition. Moreover, these emissions provide a readily available source for targeting the SAG. If attacked, the resulting battle damage and depleted stock of defensive weapons would most likely require the group to withdraw.  

130131-N-HN991-919 PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 31, 2013) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) transit the western Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Strike Group Surface Action Group is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Hooper/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 31, 2013) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) transit the western Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Strike Group Surface Action Group is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Hooper/Released)

For distributed lethality to succeed, SAGs have to avoid being engaged while in transit to the attack position, attack with the advantage of surprise, avoid attack while repositioning, and if attacked, effectively defend the force. If, as must be anticipated, some or all of the units in the SAG are located and the enemy begins defensive operations, the first objective is to avoid being targeted by possibly denying the attacking force the information required to attack. If these measures fail and a SAG is located and targeted by the enemy, the goal is to transition instantaneously to full active defense in a tactically advantageous manner. Destroying the aircraft, surface ships, submarines, or land based sites is preferable to defending against large numbers of fast moving incoming anti-ship weapons.

While emission control (EMCON) is essential to deny targeting, the ships in a SAG will have to communicate to coordinate movements, exchange information, and execute defensive and offensive activities. These datalinks and battle group communications will have to be carefully selected to minimize the probability of intercept by enemy ISR systems.

Implications for Surface Navy Information Warfare

When in EMCON, the SAG will be reliant on own-force passive sensors, organic airborne surveillance systems, and the full range of information from nonorganic Navy, joint, and national ISR systems. This information will enable the tactical commander to gain and maintain both information superiority and speed of command, defined by VADM Cebrowski as: “knowing more things which are relevant, knowing them faster and being able to convert that knowledge into execution faster than the adversary.”

SAG tactical situation awareness requires the capability to automatically correlate relevant active and passive information from organic and non-organic sensors with intelligence at all classifications and compartments for presentation to the commander. This automation is essential to the commander’s situational awareness and speed of command. Surface ships will have to integrate the capabilities to correlate information from the ship’s combat system with intelligence and information from off board sources. Speed of command is dramatically slowed and tactical advantage lost if the commander has to mentally integrate three separate sets of information with some only available in a separate physical space.

Knowing the relevant facts faster than the adversary drives a requirement that off board intelligence and information systems must meet a Key Performance Parameter for time latency, measured from time of sensing to receipt onboard ship. It also indicates the need for a similar metric for ship combat systems measured from time of information receipt on ship to presentation to the commander. Speed of command is the key to tactical success in distributed operations.

Even when exercising electromagnetic and acoustic EMCON to avoid detection, surface ships can be detected by radars, visually, and by electro-optical sensor systems. Assessing whether the SAG has been detected will depend on factors such as enemy sensor location and altitude, platform type, sensor types on the platform, and a detailed understanding of enemy sensor performance. Sensor performance estimates require not only detailed technical intelligence, but also the assessment of effects of atmospheric and acoustic conditions on enemy sensor performance at any time during the mission. This suggests that combat systems will have to incorporate new automated IW functionality that, among other things, integrates track information with technical intelligence and meteorologic/oceanographic data to assess whether the ship has been detected or not.

Conclusion

The effective planning and command of SAG IW activities requires line officers that are trained, have specialized in IW during their careers, and are ready to perform the IW functions required for success in distributed operations. That is, to achieve superior situation awareness and speed of command, influence enemy decisions, deny the enemy information superiority, disrupt enemy decision making, and protect and defend own force information and information systems from external or internal threats.

As the concept of distributed lethality matures and the Navy gains an appreciation of the necessity for and potential of IW at the tactical level, the Navy will have to adjust to more clearly define IW, describe the missions and functions of IW, establish a career path for Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) IW specialists, and equip surface combatants with the information warfare capabilities required for successful distributed operations.

Richard Mosier is a former naval aviator, intelligence analyst at ONI, OSD/DIA SES 4, and systems engineer specializing in Information Warfare. The views express herein are solely those of the author.

Featured Image:  The Arabian Gulf (Mar. 23, 2003) — The Tactical Operations Officer (TAO), along with Operations Specialists, stand watch in the Combat Direction Center (CDC) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) monitoring all surface and aerial contacts in the operating area.  (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Tiffany A. Aiken)