Rear Adm. Christian "Boris" Becker officially was relieved of duties as Navy Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO-C4I) in a Feb. 24 change of command. His next role, beginning at the end of March: the Navy's new commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. After the West 2017 conference drew to a close in San Diego, he sat down with C4ISRNET Editor Amber Corrin to briefly reflect on his experiences and preview what's next in his new post after more than three years as PEO-C4I.

C4ISRNET: What have you learned along the way that you think you'll bring with you to SPAWAR?

Rear Adm. Becker: What I've seen at PEO-C4I and PEO-Space Systems that will apply at SPAWAR can be applied anywhere in my career … it's about the mission. It starts with the mission. Our mission here at C4I and at Space Systems is to bring capability to the fleet. It starts and ends at the fleet, and we have to take care of the mission.

In our world we meet that mission with a variety of technology, and that's what this conference has been about — bringing together industry and government to assess where we are, what's available and how we can meet our needs. It's a great venue.

But it's not the technology — it's taking that technology that's very rapidly developing, much of which we don't develop ourselves — and meeting the mission. That doesn't happen without our people, and we have a tremendous team across the organization and systems commands. We've been working closely with SPAWAR already as a supporting command, so I feel like it will be very familiar to me.

C4ISRNET: Are there any specific lessons learned or examples you'll use along the way?

Becker: Communications. It's one of the Cs in C4I, and oftentimes it's either one of the greatest strengths or weakest seams in our operations. For us, we've tried to make it one of our greatest strengths. Communications across the programs, across the PEO, across the stakeholders — the fleet has been with us from the beginning because that's where our mission starts, with them. And they're demanding customers, and they should be. They should expect the best and we should deliver the best, but we can't get the best to them without communications and that goes on at every level, from the program office to the deck plate.

C4ISRNET: What have been some of your top challenges?

Becker: I think there have been many different difficulties and challenges and technical issues, learning points, but fundamentally the biggest challenge is that for much of our equipment and capability, we have seen a sea change in how that capability by the operational feet. The network is a warfighting platform: Those are perhaps the most powerful six words to affect our organization certainly in the past three years. That drives everything. Because look at what that means for requirements, what it means for capabilities, for how we approach delivering those capabilities, maintaining and repairing and training to them. Everything we touch touches that … which means we are on par with the warfighting domains of air, sea, undersea, space and cyber.

C4ISRNET: What about your top priorities – both at C4I and at SPAWAR?

Becker: The fleet is the priority — it starts and ends there. How we meet that priority, how we meet the requirements and needs of the Navy fleet and the nation; that may change. The tools we use, the roles we play, the responsibilities and accountability will shift, but that priority doesn't change. It's the fleet.

C4ISRNET: What are you excited about?

Becker: I'm excited about the change in goals and being able to support the PEOs knowing their work that they have there, and being able to apply the services that SPAWAR provides and challenging those services to continue to improve, continue to take on new challenges, to see and live the effects of those six words: the network is a warfighting platform. It's been a great three and a half years [at PEO-C4I], we accomplished a lot. Going to SPAWAR at this time in our Navy and Marine Corps is going to be very exciting … the world of information warfare is more critical now than ever before. And SPAWAR will be at the forefront of that.