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NAVWAR Stresses Need for Disruption, Creativity in Information Warfare at WEST 2024

28 February 2024

From Lily Chen, NAVWAR Public Affairs

Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR)’s presence at the WEST 2024 conference highlighted its priorities of digitalization, education and innovation in the information warfare (IW) domain.
Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR)’s presence at the WEST 2024 conference highlighted its priorities of digitalization, education and innovation in the information warfare (IW) domain.

Taking place Feb. 13-15 at the San Diego Convention Center, the conference brought together a wide array of military leaders, industry partners and technical experts to learn about the theme: “Are acquisition and readiness on pace to meet global security demands?”

Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations, emphasized the importance of delivering capability at speed in her keynote address. “Our adversaries are working to undermine our critical strengths and are racing to develop their own warfighting advantage,” she said. “To continue to be the Navy the nation needs, we've got to think, act, and operate differently. We need to use data to assess and measure our progress. We must integrate disruptive and emerging technologies, and we must unleash the creative power of the American sailor and of American industry.”

NAVWAR Commander Rear Adm. Doug Small spoke more on this topic alongside other Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Navy systems command leaders on a panel titled, “Is acquisition innovating and adapting to meet the different requirements presented near and far term?”

“When it comes to the production timeline, it’s a question of effectiveness versus efficiency. We’re buying these exquisite systems that have these intractable problems, like supply chain problems and exorbitant prices,” he said. “By focusing on unmanned systems and driving autonomy, we can disrupt the typical issues to deliver capability to the warfighter faster and more effectively.”

Small also spoke with the audience directly in the Navy IW Pavilion’s speakers’ theater, answering questions about software development and capability. He reiterated NAVWAR’s top priority as supporting its people and continuing to educate and empower them.

“My predecessor started us on a path of accessible data science training to allow us to create our own apps and systems,” he said. "By empowering our diverse workforce with robust training opportunities, we can leverage their creativity and expertise to drive digitalization within the fleet.”

At the IW Pavilion, representatives from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific showcased their projects in a series of tech demonstrations. One example was COSMOS, a newly developed cloud system that moves Navy away from a traditional cloud environment by providing access to emerging technologies while accelerating speed to capability. It also provides a secure cloud environment to conduct research, development and engineering.

“This project is changing the culture of cybersecurity within the Department of Defense, by baking in security from the start,” said Henry Houle, information security systems manager for COSMOS. “It’s breaking a lot of ground in terms of cloud native security, providing zero trust, and removing common roadblocks that customers face when trying to rapidly prototype a new capability. WEST is a great opportunity to bring more awareness to COSMOS and how industry partners can leverage it to better work with the Navy.”

Michael McMillan, executive director of NIWC Pacific, spoke on a panel about quantum technology for maritime dominance. As quantum has been highlighted as a critical technology to national security and defense, McMillan shared his thoughts on how NIWC Pacific is leveraging this new technology to advance the Navy mission.

"We are on the threshold of a profound paradigm shift, where the promise of quantum physics will almost certainly redefine the boundaries of computing, communications, sensing, materials and even science itself. NIWC Pacific has been involved in quantum exploration since its infancy, initially demonstrating how entangled photons can be used to achieve secure communications,” he said. “With the goal of ensuring our fleet maintains its strategic advantage well into the future, NIWC Pacific is advancing our its technical efforts and partnerships, both with industry and across the DOD, to bring the power of quantum – both current and emergent – to bear against the Navy’s hardest problems.”

The pavilion also served as an open forum that facilitated discussion and collaboration between interested parties and experienced subject matter experts. Open to all attendees, the two dedicated engagement zones allowed for conversation in a more informal, one-on-one setting.

For the first time ever, all three NAVWAR Program Executive Offices (PEO)--Digital and Enterprise Services; Manpower, Logistic and Business Solutions (MLB); and Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I)--conducted industry engagement events separate from the IW Pavilion, totaling hundreds of attendees. The PEOs held sessions to give industry more time and access to PEO representatives than they’d normally get during an engagement zone session. More than 50 program office and portfolio representatives from PEO C4I, PEO Digital and PEO MLB had more than 175 sessions with industry, representing more than 170 companies.

The premier naval conference and exposition on the West Coast, WEST is now in its 34th year of bringing military and industry leaders together. Co-sponsored by Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International and the U.S. Naval Institute, WEST is the only event in which the makers of platforms and the designers of technologies can network, discuss and demonstrate their solutions in a single locale.


NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers, and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition, and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space and through cyberspace. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.
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