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SPAWAR's high-tech push

February 14, 2017 (Photo Credit: John F. Williams/Navy)
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) rolled out its 2017 strategy in early January. Emphasizing high technology and IT delivery, cyber operations, and optimization of staff and resources, the strategy underscores ongoing evolution at the command and across the Navy.

Rear Adm. David Lewis, commander of SPAWAR, provided members of industry a peek inside the recently rolled out strategy at a conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in December, adding a few of his own thoughts.

“Strategic planning at SPAWAR is actually our day-to-day business,” he told the audience. “I tell the workforce, you as an individual whether you’re a logistician ... or an engineer or program person, you should be able to track your job to any one of these boxes and say, ‘I’m doing that’ or ‘I’m supporting that.’ And if you’re not, then ... we need to find something else for you to do. Because this is what matters, this is the stuff that’s the most important to the Navy.”

The new strategy, he said, goes into greater detail than before.

“What you’ll see is we’ve drilled down one more level,” Lewis noted. “If you go back to 2015, our first strategic plan was high level and lacked specifics. [In] 2016 [we] started to get in to the particulars. [For] 2017, now we’ve clearly identified our weak areas and we’re drilling down to very specific issues in our strategic plan.”

To achieve SPAWAR’s vision, which aims “to rapidly deliver cyber warfighting capability from seabed to space,” the strategy lists five guiding end states. These include accelerating and streamlining delivery, enabling modern IT service delivery, owning cyber 
technical leadership, reducing the cost of operations and optimizing organization and workforce.

The strategy clarifies that the term “cyber” refers to “the all-encompassing domain of or related to computing, with networked capability that has been extended to provide a decisive advantage over our adversaries. This capability now extends to the very core of our nation’s warfighting systems and our platforms’ most basic functions like machinery control, navigation and weapon systems.”

Keeping up with today’s pace
One of the common themes throughout the strategy builds on last year’s progress, and tracks with a growing problem in the IT world and the Navy — developing and streamlining easy upgrades to installations and ships with software and hardware solutions.

“Delivery of modern information technology and services must consider the infrastructure (e.g., hardware, computing platform, transport layer) and applications while balancing the imperatives of affordability and ‘speed to market,’” the strategy said. “This is inclusive of afloat, ashore and aloft segments of the battlespace. It includes the applications we provide, those we host and systems connected to our networks that are developed by other organizations.”

In terms of accelerating and streamlining delivery, the twofold approach of driving down costs and decreasing the time to deploy new tools to the fleet is outlined in four objectives that center on delivering cyber capabilities in a “way that ensures interoperability, operational availability and the ability of our sailors to develop and sustain proficiency in operations and maintenance” and are easy to install.

The Navy, strained under longer deployments due to rising conflicts around the world, has to some degree struggled to keep up with IT installations and maintenance.

“We keep a large number of ships out ... you can’t bring them back unless one is ready to go out, so that’s the balance we have,” Janice Haith, the Navy’s deputy CIO, said in May.
  
Additional IT priorities include moving the Navy to a more mobility-friendly posture and embracing commercial cloud. The strategy concedes that providing the workforce the ability to operate in a mobile workspace is “pivotal to the [Department of Navy’s] ability to attract and retain the best talent.” Developing enterprise mobile application and data management solutions — with the goal of converging common, enterprisewide solutions down the road — along with expanding the Navy’s mobile application environment are two overarching plans the strategy identifies in this space for 2017.

In terms of cloud, SPAWAR acknowledges that one of the most significant IT trends in the commercial world is the shift in its purchase and delivery, offering scaling to meet challenges – rather than supporting an extensive IT asset inventory. The three overarching priorities planned in the way of cloud for 2017 listed are evaluating enterprise cloud productivity services for Navy implementation, continuing to establish required government infrastructure to expand commercial cloud adoption, and transitioning existing systems and preparing new systems for cloud environments.

SPAWAR’s role as the Navy’s technical authority means leadership must position the Navy to respond quickly to changes in the cyberthreat environment, the document stated. In providing this defensive cyber architecture for the Navy, SPAWAR must also rapidly evolve tools, systems and capabilities as new technologies emerge. 

This will involve improving risk assessments and management and leveraging the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s framework for better cyber hygiene. There’s also a three-pronged approach for detecting threats: support tools to monitor and analyze the network to provide enterprise-level situational awareness; align with the RMF to incorporate continuous monitoring to identify cybersecurity events and verify the effectiveness of protective measures; and test and certify cyber processes that will validate end-to-end cyber mission effectiveness.

“Our maneuver operations occur in the cyber battlespace [comprising] networked systems and the electromagnetic spectrum. SPAWAR must ensure the Navy maintains its cyber advantage by providing capability to observe activity across all domains, including the electromagnetic and information environments. SPAWAR maintains the full spectrum of connectivity required for modern naval warfare,” the strategy noted.

The workforce will also be a critical element of the strategy, as Lewis indicated in his remarks. This workforce “must possess the necessary skillsets to meet the current and future requirements of our Navy,” the strategy said, adding their lines of effort will offer 
support with the necessary tools, education, training and experience to accomplish the mission — while adding new talent.

Part of both attaining and attracting new talent involves making SPAWAR “the best place to work.” This will be done, the strategy noted, through various initiatives that include work-life balance and wellness programs, more flexible work schedules, and facility 
improvements. 

STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
FOCUS ON SERVICE AND CAPABILITY DELIVERY
Accelerate and streamline delivery
• Increase commonality in deployed command, control, communications, computers and intelligence configurations
• Increase quality of installations and decrease installations’ timelines and costs
• Efficiently identify, mature, integrate and deliver technical capabilities
• Accelerate and streamline delivery of an integrated C4ISR 
baseline/platform

Enable modern IT service delivery
• Transform and modernize IT infrastructure
• Deliver mobile capability to the workforce
• Take the Navy to the cloud

PLAN FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF IT SERVICES
Own cyber technical leadership
• Identify: Asset management and risk assessment
• Protect: Improve cyber hygiene, develop standards and target architecture
• Detect: Situational awareness, continuous monitoring, test and certification
• Respond to cyber incidents/recover to ensure capability restoration
• Foundational: Organizational alignment and tools

Reduce the cost of operations
• Optimize lab infrastructure at SPAWAR
• Optimize information for effective decision-making
• Plan for success: support services contract strategy

Optimize organization and workforce
• Forecast demand and optimize workload
• Manage workforce talent to match demand
• Make SPAWAR the best place to work

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