Mr. David Weddel, a Navy cyber warrior, answers our questions
AUSN: Mr. Weddel, let me begin by saying that we really appreciate your taking time during this frantic budget season to answer our questions. I propose that we start with the N2/N6 realignment and then move to NETWARCOM, Cyber Forces, and CYBERCOMMAND/TENTH Fleet.
The alignment of N2 and N6 to form N2/N6 is just over a year old now. From your perspective, what is the most important thing that has been gained from this?
Mr. Weddel: First of all, it is the culmination of the CNO’s vision that information in this age is a significant warfighting domain. You start from there. You understand that globally, information has become significant not only in terms of our economic progress but also in how we exist as a nation, how we exist as a military and Navy, and how we are able to maximize our warfighting capability. That is both within the pure information domain, and that is information – defending and exploiting it; and within our ability to ensure that we round out the other warfighting domains’ capability – the surface, subsurface and aviation warfare domains. There is a tremendous synergy in maximizing each of those individual platforms’ capabilities by maximizing their awareness of the environment, by maximizing their weapons and sensor capabilities through the ability to receive information from the outside world and their ability to disseminate that information to others in the Navy, or jointly, and in humanitarian and disaster relief operations such as are going on right now in Japan. So I think you start from the understanding of the CNO’s vision of trying to move that initiative of the preeminence of information down the road.
Secondly, as a part of that vision, the CNO made one organization responsible for information, from the time that a sensor picks up data all the way to when that data is presented to the warfighter. That’s N2/N6. So, whether you take the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) information detected by an E-2, or generated by undersea systems, by unmanned air systems, or by the knowledge of the environment and the oceanographic and meteorological world, you then process and present that to the warfighter, less the combat system itself – we’re responsible. We are the singular responsible organization; so if it works, we’re happy. If it doesn’t work, we have the laser dot to fix it. We understand the gaps and how we have to address those gaps.
AUSN: I’m hearing that there is a lot more to this than just the efficiencies of combining two Pentagon codes. It seems to be more about taking the entire intelligence realm end-to-end and creating one resource sponsor for that.
Mr. Weddel: That’s exactly what I would like to stress. The issue was “capability” not necessarily efficiencies. Don’t get me wrong, we hope to garner any efficiencies that we can out of this, especially in this tight budget time. To support our Navy, we are always looking for efficiencies. But, the CNO was focused on capability and where information provides that capability and information as a capability within itself.
AUSN: I read that you manage an awfully lot of programs within N2/N6.
Mr. Weddel: We have over 180 programs, over 12 billion dollars per year in total obligation authority. We deal with NAVAIR, NAVSEA, and SPAWAR. We deal with a number of different program managers. It’s not platform based, it’s capabilities based. So, when you look at it from a capability perspective, you deal with a lot of wide-ranging organizations and stakeholders.
AUSN: I want to get to air platforms here. We have moved unmanned air vehicles out of the realm of being resourced in the air world to being resourced by N2/N6. You may have just explained this, but how is that working? Are there other similar hardware moves?
Mr. Weddel: It starts back with looking at the ISR sensors that gather information about the environment and making those all part of N2/N6. So, if it senses the environment, that is where we start. Things like the E-2C/D – that is under N2/N6. Why? It is a preeminent aviation command and control (C2) platform with a great sensing capability that is at the heart of what we do – command and control and ISR. We took in the unmanned aviation sensors because they are predominately about sensing the environment. We brought in the undersea sensing and the unmanned undersea vehicles. In terms of the traditional passive acoustic sensing, those sensors are challenged by power, energy, and endurance. The CNO has pressed the Office of Naval Research with the task of moving forward with improving the endurance of the sensor before working on the sensors themselves....Clearly, when you talk about unmanned systems, the undersea domain epitomizes that.
AUSN: Moving those hardware programs to N2/N6 is a significant increase in what is on the plate. So, in this budget climate, what is VADM Jack Dorsett’s (Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance) greatest challenge here?
Mr. Weddel: First of all, today, the biggest challenge is the Continuing Resolution. We understand why it is happening, but it is a challenge. How do we operate in an environment where we do not yet have a budget? The lack of a budget impacts not only the execution year but also out-year program planning and schedule as well. Those programs that were to start in 2011 can’t. Areas where we have done some initial R&D and where we were making significant investment to move that forward in 2011 are restricted to 2010 funding levels. So there are some significant challenges that our program managers and the acquisition community are faced with. I applaud what they are doing. They are being as innovative as they can be in managing their budgets and their programs. But the problem is, without a budget, as you begin to slide milestones in the execution year of 2011, that has a second and third order effect into FY 12 and POM 13. Decisions that are made now, sliding a program to the right, have a cascading effect that becomes difficult to manage and, from our position, difficult to fund appropriately. At the end of the day, it impacts the warfighting capability that we provide to the fleet.
AUSN: Yes, Sir, and we appreciate that insight as we are all watching what is going on on Capitol Hill. Let’s turn to the people who do the work. The formation of the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) by bringing together the Intelligence, Information Professional, Information Warfare, Meteorology and Oceanography, and the Space Cadre communities was a big concept. Is there a plan to encourage cross-discipline assignment?
Mr. Weddel: First, throughout our entire Navy, our best and most superlative resource is our people. They continue to astound me every day in what they do at sea in those critical positions. Our people are second to none, second to none. That’s where we begin. The second point I want to emphasize is that when it comes to information, particularly information defense, the first line of that defense isn’t a firewall, or some piece of hardware or software, it’s our people. The ability to manage information, to protect our information, to understand culturally that people are attacking and wanting that information and, therefore, to [then] take the right steps to protect that information – all that starts with the cultural piece of our people. A large subset of that is the Information Dominance Corps, 44,000 people strong; officer, enlisted, and civilian. It has been just over a year that the IDC has been in existence, and we are making some significant headway in the management and development of that Corps. The IDC is akin to the aviation community. That is the best analogy I think one can make. You have the respected individual communities – fighter, helo, maritime patrol, and their individual centers of excellence. You also have the basic understanding that you are an aviator and there is an expected certain level of competency that all of those aviators have as an aviation community. The same here. You have a basic foundation of information dominance and what is expected. Then you have the respective community excellence in intelligence, cryptology, meteorology, networks and commendations that we expect our junior officers and junior enlisted to grow up in and become superior at. Then, as they become more senior, predominately at the O-5, O-6, and Flag level, we will begin to look at cross-detailing to produce a more holistic effect. Crossdetailing is being conducted at a very senior level with significant attention to it. Forty people are already cross-detailed; and we think that is the tip of the iceberg; and we are looking for opportunities, where they make sense, to do even more.
AUSN: Do you see a time where Information Dominance is as sought after a career path for officers and enlisted as the traditional big three – air, surface, and sub forces? What would you say to an Academy or NROTC Midshipman thinking about his/her future?
Mr. Weddel: We have been founded on the traditional warfare specialties of surface, subsurface, and aviation and that has served us well. But I would say that we have seen, in the last decade or two, the emergence of information and how it is pivotal to our operations, whether in the logistics side or the warfighting side. Information, the ability to get it, to rely on it, and then to use it and provide command and control of our forces is absolutely pivotal. It clearly is an area that is now our fourth domain of warfare. The CNO laid out the vision of information as a main battery to our Navy. If you think about what a main battery is, it clearly has an offensive and a defensive capability. So we are focused in that same area of being able to defend our information and to exploit the information of others. We think it is a warfare domain with great opportunities. We see that as expanding; the demand for cyber warriors has increased faster than the amount of resources that we have to fund or resource those billets. I believe that it has great opportunity for any young man or woman. The Naval Academy is adding classes in cyber security to its core curriculum. The changes also come as the Navy constructs a facility for its Center for Cyber Security Studies which it created in December of 2009 to increase cyber security education at the Academy. The NROTC program at civilian universities has developed a Cyber Scholarship which offers five annual four-year college scholarships to include full tuition, fees, books, laboratory expenses and a subsistence allowance. Not to be left out, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, is creating a Cyber Track within existing EE and Computer Science curricula. These are significant opportunities for young people entering our Navy.
AUSN: You sort of teed up this next question when you mentioned the CNO’s view of a main battery. When we established NETWARCOM, it was a deliberate move to raise networks and network warfighting to the level of a peer Type Commander. Now, we have created U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/TENTH Fleet and moved that three-star billet there. Was this driven by the stand up of U.S. Cyber Command or is there more to the story than that?
Mr. Weddel: First of all, we [needed] the Navy Component Commander to US CYBERCOM and that was absolutely pivotal and the driving reason for doing that. The CNO also dual-hatted that command as TENTH Fleet, so now he has elevated that position within Navy to a Numbered Fleet Commander. Historically speaking, there was a TENTH Fleet during WWII. It was ASW oriented, designed to help defeat the Nazi submarine threat in the Atlantic. It was more organizational than actual fighting units. Similarly here...there is an established Fleet Commander designed against a particular warfare domain and operating information as a weapon offensively and defensively. Yes, we are the Navy Component Commander to Cyber Command and, yes, we are a Numbered Fleet Commander showing the importance of that along with other Numbered Fleet Commanders in our Navy.
AUSN: We have also taken NETWARCOM and split that into Cyber Forces Command and NETWARCOM. Can you explain what we did there?
Mr. Weddel: Previously, NETWARCOM was acting as both a Type Commander and an operational commander. They had an operations floor, were managing the networks, managing and understanding our threats, and acting appropriately. With the stand up of TENTH Fleet, there was the realization that we needed to align network operations with the operational commander (Navy CYBERCOM) and that the man, train, and equip role needed to go with the Type Commander, Navy CYBERFOR. NETWARCOM now is an operational command that reports to Fleet Cyber Command/TENTH Fleet. Navy Cyber Forces Command at Little Creek is the Type Commander for information and reports to U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, as do all the other Type Commanders.
AUSN: So the Type Commander hat went to Navy Cyber Forces Command and the networks stayed with NETWARCOM? Mr. Weddel: The networks stayed with NETWARCOM who now reports to TENTH Fleet.
AUSN: Navy Space Command – there has been some change there in this alignment. Can you educate us about that?
Mr. Weddel: When the functions of Navy Space Command were divided up, the actual space surveillance piece went to the Air Force. The fleet operations and training of how we utilize space went to NETWARCOM. The planning and resources piece went to N2/N6.
AUSN: As we look at the Navy’s vision for Information Dominance: “The ability to seize and control the information domain ‘high ground’ when, where and however required for decisive competitive advantage across the range of Navy missions.” Now, it is where are we today in achieving that vision?
Mr. Weddel: I think that we have made some extremely great progress in a number of areas. In the manpower piece, [we] stood up the Information Dominance Corps, clearly a different way of looking at how you man, train, and equip our people. You have the Type Commander who is moving out and doing some very good work in supporting the Fleet. And then the resourcing piece, the piece that N2/N6 is responsible for. In the resourcing piece, the stand-up of N2/N6 was the first time Navy had done the end-to-end process and gap review under one resource sponsor. If there is a seam in getting information from a particular platform and moving it, that’s our seam. If there is a seam in command and control of unmanned air systems or command and control of ISR assets, that’s our seam. I believe we have been able to narrow down some of the seams issues across the information capability domain. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t created some as well. We work very closely with N88 when it comes to the aviation piece, both in terms of the E-2 and how it fits into the air wing as well as the new mix in the future of manned and unmanned systems. They are complementary, not at odds with each other.
I think that we have also made some great strides in the cultural piece where information is now being perceived and treated as a warfare area. Information is now seen as critical for how we do business, critical for how we fight the next fight and also critical for how we manage it with our industry partners. Those are the biggest things, cultural and organizational.
AUSN: Well, thank you for that. Is there something that we might not have touched on that you would like to address before we conclude?
Mr. Weddel: The vision for our Navy and the future of our Navy is as bright as it can be! We have some significant challenges in the area of Information Dominance. We have some ground to make up. We’re working hard to improve our electronic warfare capability. We’re working hard to address TCPED processes – the Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination of information. We know that is a real challenge for us because of the number of ISR platforms that are growing exponentially, particularly the unmanned platforms, that will generate enormous amounts of information. How and where we process and move that information to support the warfighter is a great challenge for us. We know that information is a domain where we must fight and win the battle. We must protect our information and we must provide the warfighter the right information at the right time and not overload that person. We also know that information in and of itself is one area that we need to be superlative in and dominate. We also have to be able to disrupt our adversary’s information chain. We, in N2/N6 and in the IDC, accept those challenges and are ready to move out to solve them.
AUSN: We look forward to watching you meet those challenges. Thank you again for making time to visit with us today and telling us what is going on here where information is central.
Mr. Weddel: Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.