PCU John F. Kennedy’s Seal Crafted to Honor the President

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By Capt. Todd Marzano Commanding Officer
Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy

During my time serving on board USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) while the
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was undergoing maintenance at Huntington Ingalls
Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, the keel of the future USS John F.
Kennedy was laid. PCU John F. Kennedy has come a long ways since I first
observed initial construction in the dry dock back in 2015 following the keel laying.
At that point I had no idea I’d be fortunate enough to be the ship’s first
commanding officer and I’m incredibly honored, humbled, and excited to be given
the opportunity to lead such an amazing team of high quality crewmembers.

Upon reporting to PCU John F. Kennedy, I was given the honorable
task of creating the ship’s seal. The design was a collaborative effort,
with many valuable inputs from the crew. Each element of the seal is
significant for its relevance to the ship’s namesake, naval service, and our
great nation.

The 35 stars located throughout the outer ring of the
seal represent the Honorable John F. Kennedy as the 35th president. The 35th
star is positioned after his middle initial and the two gold stars between CVN
and the number 79 symbolize this is the second aircraft carrier bearing his
name. The first was CV-67, commissioned back on Sept. 7 1968, and served our
nation for nearly 40 years.     

The Roman numeral CIX (109) is a tribute to John F.
Kennedy’s heroic naval service as the boat commander of PT-109 in the South
Pacific during World War II. He displayed extraordinary courage, both in combat
as a naval officer, and as President of the United States. 

The bow on view of the ship advancing through the
water reflects the enormous power of our Navy’s newest class of aircraft
carrier, fully ready to support the needs of the nation.  

President Kennedy’s image against the backdrop of the
moon represents his bold vision to lead the space race. The importance of
achieving this goal was highlighted during his speech at Rice University Sept.
12, 1962 when he said, “No nation which expects to be the leader of other
nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space. For the eyes of the
world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have
vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a
banner of freedom and peace.” 

Finally, the motto “SERVE WITH COURAGE” truly exemplifies President John F. Kennedy’s life.  From the first day of his presidency, he challenged every American during his inauguration speech to “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” He regarded serving one’s nation as an honor and held the utmost respect for those who did so with courage, especially when faced with adversity.

It was this passion that inspired President Kennedy to study and write about exceptional leaders throughout our nation’s history who served with courage, and it was the example set by these impressive individuals who helped mold him into one of our country’s most influential presidents. His powerful words spoken Jan. 20, 1961 during the inaugural address are just as applicable today, and when USS John F. Kennedy heads out to sea, the crew will “serve with courage” and take a great deal of pride and satisfaction knowing they are members of the United States Navy. 


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Oct. 29, 2019) The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) reaches another construction milestone, Oct. 29, 2019, as its dry dock area is flooded three months ahead of its slated production schedule leading up to the christening of the second Ford-class aircraft carrier, scheduled for Dec. 7, 2019. The flooding of the dry dock follows other milestones, including the laying of the ship’s keel on Aug. 22, 2015, the placement of the 588-metric ton island superstructure on May 29, 2019, and the arrival of the crew on Oct. 1, 2019. Kennedy is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam Ferrero/Released)

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PCU John F. Kennedy’s Seal Crafted to Honor the President

Naval Aviation Focuses on Maintaining Readiness

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Editor’s
note: As the Program Executive Officer, Tactical Aircraft Programs, Rear Adm.
Shane Gahagan serves as the lead for the engineering reform pillar of the Naval
Sustainment System-Aviation. In his column below, he summarizes some of the process
improvements that are designed to sustain readiness.

By Rear Adm. Shane
Gahagan, PEO(T)

A week ahead of the Secretary of
Defense and Air Boss’ deadline, we surpassed an incredible milestone in Naval Aviation
in September exceeding 80% mission-capable (MC) F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and
EA-18G Growlers. That’s more than 341 Super Hornets and 93 Growlers ready
to fight the fight at a moment’s notice.

We have proven to ourselves, our
nation and our adversaries that we can surge in time of need. But our work’s
not done.

This feat was achieved by all hands
— from
maintainers on the deck plate to senior leaders — working together to achieve the same
goal using the six pillars of the Naval Sustainment System-Aviation
(NSS-A) initiative to identify and swarm the issues that kept our MC rates lower
than 80%. With NSS-A, we put the right people in the right places, equipped
with the right parts and the right processes and empowered them to achieve the
mission.


PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 17, 2019) Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (Fueling) move fuel hoses to refuel F/A-18E Super Hornets on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during flight operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Janweb B. Lagazo/Released)

Naval Aviation has always been
focused on readiness, but our Super Hornet MC numbers hovered around 250-260
for nearly a decade. That doesn’t mean we weren’t combat ready, Naval Aviation always
answered our nation’s call, but those numbers were not where we wanted them to
be. With the current increase in readiness numbers, we have increased our
lethality and survivability response.

We have institutionalized many
processes that will continue to improve readiness, and we are doing things better.
NSS-A efforts have been about challenging ourselves to work more efficiently.

The success of the NSS-A is a
product of years of lessons learned and a culmination of the hard work of many individuals
throughout the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). We brought in aviation experts
with demonstrated proficiency in improving efficiency, effectiveness and
performance from the commercial aircraft industry. By collaborating and implementing
their best practices, we have decreased turnaround times for maintenance, improved
efficiencies at fleet readiness centers (FRCs) and delivered parts to the fleet
faster.

We also set up an environment that allowed
open communication among the stakeholders, which allowed everybody to bring the
brutal facts necessary to find the root cause of why we were not getting
aircraft in a MC status.


ARABIAN SEA (Oct. 23, 2019) Two F/A-18E Super Hornets attached to Fist of the Fleet of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mohamed Labanieh/Released)

I want to summarize some of these
changes in each of the pillars that will sustain our MC rates for years to
come.

Maintenance Operations Center (MOC)/Aircraft-On-Ground (AOG) cell: One
of the best industry practices we implemented was establishing an MOC/AOG cell.
This cell built strategic partnerships across Naval Aviation communities, focused
on getting aircraft up faster instead of focusing on departmentalized internal
metrics. This single-decision entity had all the enabling functions and
organizations present to make decisions on a daily basis, and all were focused
on the same goal.

Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) reform: Within the FRCs, we’ve created
elite-level organic facilities that have adopted proven commercial practices to
maximize quality and cost efficiency while minimizing cycle times.

Organization-level reform: The NAE refocused and balanced demand
with optimal maintenance performance close to the flight line by empowering
petty officers to oversee aircraft throughout the inspection process.

Supply chain reform: We are making sure that the right parts are at
the right place at the right time by having various stakeholders form a single
accountable entity responsible for the end-to-end material process. Naval
Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support continues to improve the supply
chain with more responsive contracting, supplier integration, enhanced customer
presence and improved collaboration with the Defense Logistics Agency.

Engineering and maintenance reform: We have developed an
engineering-driven reliability process that improves how systems are sustained
throughout their life cycle. Reliability engineering is another industry best
practice applied through the establishment of a Reliability Control Board
(RCB). Through the RCB, we identify the top degraders in a single list and
strategically align activities throughout the NAE to prioritize and put the
right people, parts and processes in place to address them.

Governance, accountability and organization: We have a single point
of accountability for sustainment with the infrastructure to better support
fundamental changes. The governance pillar identified issues that each pillar
was having, and then swarmed, crushed the barriers and moved forward.

CORAL SEA (July 19, 2019) The Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conducts flight operations during Talisman Sabre 2019.

These six pillars impact all aspects
of the maintenance process and require the expertise, experience and support of
each and every member of the Naval Aviation team. We have aligned how we
communicate and focus as one on the end game by identifying and solving the
issues that limited our number of MC aircraft.

Keep in mind that while we were
making these changes, we were continuing to fly, deploy and respond to national
tasking. Some of the changes were truly a cultural shift, which took time to
implement fleet-wide, but once the parts and processes were in place, we saw readiness
improve steadily.

These cultural shifts are becoming
the new normal for the fleet and the workforce, all of whom have bought into industry
best practices. Embracing and continuing to improve our processes remains key to
maintaining a MC rate of 80% or more.

Achieving the goal for the Super
Hornet and Growler fleets was just the beginning. Now, our focus is on keeping those
readiness numbers where we need them to be while improving readiness and safety
for each type/model/series.

While the initial focus of the
NSS-A was on the Super Hornets, we have already applied
it to the E-2D fleet and have seen an MC rate increase of more than 10% in
three months. We will continue to implement the NSS-A best practices across the
NAE.

With the best practices implemented
under NSS-A, we have the tools and visibility to gauge our sustainment efforts
daily —
so if they aren’t working, we will readjust and swarm the problem areas
to maintain our sustainment levels.

Congratulations to the NAE on exceeding the goal and thank you for getting us there. As we move forward, it’s important to remember that we still have work to do—we now have the equally challenging task of sustaining these efforts.


FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (Sept. 24, 2019) Two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, fly in formation awaiting fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing based at Fairchild Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr./Released)

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Naval Aviation Focuses on Maintaining Readiness

Then and Now: Century of Service Shows Need for Shipyard Investment at Pearl Harbor

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By Capt. Greg Burton, Commander, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF

They rushed to put out hundreds of fires around Pearl Harbor,
organized an ammunition-passing party, worked on disabled engines and cut men
out of the hulls of sunken ships. These workers saved dozens of lives and were
charged with resurrecting the fleet that brought peace to a world that was
burning. Just six months after the initial bombing
of Pearl Harbor, the battered and bloodied USS Yorktown aircraft carrier
limped back to Pearl Harbor following the Battle of Coral Sea. Once again, these
heroes answered the call. I’m not talking about sailors or soldiers. I’m
talking about tradesmen who loved and served their country.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Pearl Harbor Naval
Shipyard workers helped turn the tide of the war at Midway and
also repaired and maintained the ships that would sail triumphantly into Tokyo
Bay.
This support continued through the Korea
conflict, Vietnam
War,
Cold War, Gulf War and in combat operations in support of ground forces in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Along the way, they prioritized environmental stewardship
and safety programs and supported the Navy in its transition to nuclear
propulsion.

As in years past, today’s shipyard workers possess the
grit, determination and capacity unique to and necessary for sustaining the
most powerful Navy in the world.

Next month, Lionsgate will release Midway, a new movie that will highlight epic stories from Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard’s 111-year history. One story is repairing the USS Yorktown (CV-5).

The USS Yorktown
saw its first major battle after the Japanese Imperial Navy sent an invasion
force through the Coral Sea and the U.S. Navy moved to intercept. The enemy hit
Yorktown with a bomb that exploded on
the fourth deck. Later, a near miss landed close enough to open up her hull.
Following orders, the crippled Yorktown
returned to Pearl Harbor trailing an oil slick 10 miles long.

Yorktown’s
skipper prepared an action report detailing the carrier’s damage for Adm.
Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief. U.S. Pacific Fleet. It
would be a preliminary estimate of the necessary repairs for returning the
carrier to the high seas. An effort that put the Pearl
Harbor Naval Shipyard workforce in the history books.

The sobering report detailed a 551-pound
armor-piercing bomb plunging through the flight deck and penetrating 50 feet into
the ship before exploding above the forward-engine room. It destroyed six
compartments, the lighting systems on three decks and took out her radar and
refrigeration systems. The bomb also damaged the gears controlling an elevator while
the near misses opened seams in her hull and ruptured the fuel-oil
compartments.

Rear
Adm. Aubrey Fitch speculated that repairs would take 90
days. Adm. Nimitz didn’t have 90
days.

Thanks to the intelligence work by Cmdr.
Joseph Rochefort and his team at Station
HYPO
(also located at the shipyard in Building 1)
the Navy broke the Japanese Imperial code and intercepted plans detailing a pending
Japanese attack at Midway.
Adm. Nimitz had already started sending battle groups and air wings to Midway.
The question in his mind was whether shipyard workers could repair the Yorktown in time for that battle.

After Yorktown eased
into Dry Dock 1 with the
caisson closing behind the ship and the pumps draining out the water, Adm. Nimitz
in waders trudged through about a foot of water to inspect the ship. After
staring at the burst seams and hull damage, Adm. Nimitz turned to the
technicians and said, “We must have this ship back in three days.” After a long
silence, a repair expert replied, “Yes, sir.”

Within minutes, repairmen swarmed the dry dock. Eventually,
1,400 of them would work around the clock for almost 72 straight hours to get
the job done. To meet the vast electricity needs for the repairs, the Navy
contacted the Hawaiian Electric Company who supported the massive effort with a
series of rolling blackouts throughout the island.

Workers made only the most urgent repairs. Instead of
fixing all of the hull’s ruptured seams, they welded a massive steel plate over
the damaged section. Yorktown arrived
at 11 a.m. on May 28 and on the morning of May 30, with shipyard workers still
onboard mending the ship, Yorktown steamed out of Pearl Harbor and sped
to one of the most decisive battles in history.

Through this monumental repair effort, which deserves to be honored and glorified on the silver screen, those workers who completed this nearly-impossible task cemented Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as a national strategic asset; and today’s shipyard workers are still writing history today. People are our Navy’s and our nation’s greatest asset and we have amazing people. They develop innovative solutions to challenging problems and maintain the most powerful Navy in the world. They are the force behind the fleet!

As we recount and honor the shipyard’s past, we must
look to its future.  Pearl Harbor Naval
Shipyard’s strategic importance cannot be overstated due to its proximity to Indo-Pacific
area of operation. A frank assessment of the shipyard reveals a need to invest
in its dry docks, infrastructure, and capital equipment – much of which
predates Yorktown’s 1942 docking.

Dry Dock 1 is the location of the “Yorktown miracle.”
In 1913, it imploded under faulty piling and a bad foundation, but after
painstaking redesign and reconstruction, it rose again. On December 7, 1941, it
was the overhaul site for the battleship USS
Pennsylvania
(BB-38), as well as USS
Cassin
(DD-372) and USS Downes
(DD-375) with both destroyers sustaining severe damage from Japanese bombs. In
August 2019, Dry Dock 1 turned
100 years old. It is still capable of docking all ships
and submarines homeported at Pearl Harbor, however, the Navy is taking a
proactive approach with the Shipyard
Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) to ensure the
Navy can use facilities like Dry Dock 1 well into the future. This is necessary
to support new ships and submarines such as Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft
carriers, Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and new variants of
Virginia-class fast-attack submarines.


Since 1937, Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard workers have used this hydraulic steam press for metal forming operations. Today it must be serviced after each use. The proposed $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program would replace aged capital equipment in addition to repairing and upgrading dry docks while optimizing shipyard layouts to improve productivity and throughput. (PHNSY & IMF photo by Amanda Cartagena-Urena)

Just as the shipyard was so important to national
defense then, it remains so today and investment in infrastructure is critical
to allow us to keep our ships in the fight. According to Adm. Nimitz, the enemy’s
failure to destroy the shipyard’s dry dock facilities and other critical
infrastructure during the Pearl Harbor attack shortened the War in the Pacific
by two years. That drives home the point that investing in the modernization of
the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is of supreme importance to our nation’s
security as we look to a new Great
Power Competition.

The Navy’s four shipyards are
more than a century old. Designed and laid out to build ships of wood, sail,
and coal, their mission has changed over time; now, used to repair our nation’s
most complex ships – nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines.  SIOP is a once-in-a-century undertaking that
will deliver modern facilities to maintain today’s and tomorrow’s fleet and
will help ensure the on-time and on-cost delivery of submarines and
carriers. 

SIOP focuses on repairing and upgrading our dry docks,
optimizing the layout of the shipyards to improve productivity and throughput,
and replacing aged capital equipment.  The
Navy estimates this work will take about 20 years and cost $21 billion across
the four public shipyards, phasing the work so we can continue to support the ongoing
maintenance needs of the fleet. 

Executing SIOP allows us to continue to keep our ships
in the fight, strengthens naval power and increases our capabilities while
recovering 300,000 workdays per year through improved productivity. 

What an opportunity we have to shape the future while
honoring our legacy and supporting current mission success. We are the force
behind the Navy the nation needs!


Since 1942, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard’s electrical shop has used this bridge crane. While some parts have been replaced, all original beams, gears, and tracks remain. The proposed Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program is a once-in-a-century undertaking that will deliver modern equipment and facilities to maintain today’s and tomorrow’s fleet. (PHNSY & IMF photo by Amanda Cartagena-Urena)

Editor’s Note: The four-part “Then and Now” NavyLive blog series honors the Navy victory at the Battle of Midway and highlights current Navy capabilities against modern and future U.S. adversaries. All areas of Navy capabilities, including fleet maintenance, were necessary to win the battle that turned the tide of the War in the Pacific.

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Then and Now: Century of Service Shows Need for Shipyard Investment at Pearl Harbor

USS Gerald R. Ford Returns to Norfolk

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By Capt. John J. Cummings, Commanding Officer, USS Gerald R. Ford

Today, the mighty warship USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
returned home to Naval Station Norfolk for the first time in 15 months, marking
the official completion of our post-shakedown availability (PSA) at Huntington
Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.

Fifteen months. For nearly 500 days, the combined
Navy-Newport News Shipbuilding team collectively expended hundreds of thousands
of manhours pierside making our amazing warship stronger, more capable, and
more reliable. The team’s tremendous efforts culminated this past week in six
days of sea trials, an opportunity to finally get our ship to sea and evaluate
our efforts.

Now I could bore you with piles of statistics, technical
data, and engineering mumbo-jumbo, but what I really want you to know is this:

‘Warship 78’ is a capable, lethal, and innovative
warfighting platform… and she works.

Not only was our sea trial successful – we crushed it! We
ran our ship through the paces and she passed with flying colors – in some
cases surpassing expectations. I couldn’t be happier with the performance of
the ship, or of our Sailors who continue to impress me with their dedication,
resilience, and tenacity. It is their blood, sweat, and tears that are building
our ship and the Ford-class program and that serve as the bedrock to our
success of this technological marvel.

Our work was validated and sets the stage for a busy 2020.
In the next year we will return to the fleet and take our ship to sea as many
times as we possibly can. We will aggressively conduct independent steaming
exercises, prepare our ship for further testing and certifications, and work
towards our ultimate goal of sailing this 100,000 ton steel beast over the
horizon and answering our nation’s call to preserve freedom and democracy
around the world.

For USS Gerald R. Ford, the future is bright. Support us – jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. WE ARE WARSHIP 78!


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (July 3, 2019) Capt. John J. Cummings, USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) commanding officer, addresses Ford sailors during an all hand’s call in the ship’s hangar bay. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Melvin)

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USS Gerald R. Ford Returns to Norfolk

Then and Now: Midway and Submarine Force

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By Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

“When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941, our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come. It was to the submarine force that I looked to carry the load. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril.” — Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific

Midway, a
feature-length film scheduled for release on November 8, tells the story of the
Sailors who fought so bravely in June 1942 to thwart the Japanese attack at
Midway.  This retelling comes at a
critical time for our Navy and our nation. Seeing the Battle of Midway on the
big screen serves as a reminder of the critical importance of a strong and
combat ready Navy to the security of our Nation. 

As you walk the
historic submarine piers of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, you see visceral reminders of
the beginning of the war and its conclusion – the memorial to USS Arizona
(BB-39), which was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the battleship USS
Missouri (BB-61), on which the peace agreement was signed in Tokyo Harbor to
end the war. Adm. Nimitz also walked on these piers during WWII and witnessed
both the devastation of the Pearl Harbor attack and the unparalleled
industriousness of our Navy and civilian work force as they recovered from that
attack, rebuilt our Navy, and set sail to take the fight to the enemy at the
Battle of Midway.   

In May 1942, the submarine USS Nautilus (SS 168), under the command of Lt. Cmdr. William Brockman Jr., departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for her first war patrol. Her mission was to search for the Japanese fleet sailing for Midway, and she succeeded.  USS Nautilus assisted in leading U.S. aircraft directly to the Japanese carrier Hiryu and harassing the enemy while our aircraft ravaged the Japanese Fleet. USS Nautilus survived 42 depth charges, several of her torpedoes failed to detonate, and Japanese aircraft and ships spotted her multiple times, forcing Nautilus to dive and evade multiple times. Yet, despite these challenges, the crew’s efforts were critical to the success of the battle and resulted in Brockman receiving the Navy Cross for the Battle of Midway.  


USS Nautilus (SS-168) underway, March 1933. (U.S. National Archives photo.)

U.S.
submarines would go on to take the fight to the Japanese across the Pacific,
wreaking havoc on the critical maritime supply routes that supported their
industry, and ravaging their warships. Although submarines only made up only 2%
of our entire Navy during WWII, they sank 30% of Japanese warships and 55% of
Japanese merchant ships.  

But this wartime effort was not without significant sacrifice. The U.S. submarine force experienced some of the highest casualty rates of any force in WWII. A foundational part of our training as submariners is the study of this legacy of sacrifice and commitment in the face of the enemy. In this training, we make it a point to ensure that today’s submariners recognize that even though we eventually achieved victory, we were not ready for unrestricted submarine warfare when we entered the fight after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our weapons were erratic, our tactics unrefined, and our training inadequate to the task. Yes, we eventually overcame each of these obstacles to halt the Japanese advance and set the conditions for victory in the Pacific, but there is no guarantee that the pace of future combat operations will forgive such a lack of foresight and preparation. We have to be ready to deploy and sustain high-end combat operations with little or no warning – and today we exercise that every single day in our Submarine Force. 


USS Tang (SS 306) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, Dec.2, 1943. (Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.)

Last month, we celebrated the return of USS Olympia (SSN 717), our oldest Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, from her final deployment. Olympia completed a circumnavigation of the earth, transiting both the Panama Canal and Suez Canal, and conducting operations in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Shortly after USS Olympia’s successful return, we welcomed home one of our newest Virginia class fast attack submarines, USS Illinois (SSN 786), who returned to Pearl Harbor from her first deployment. She was the first Block II Virginia-class submarine to ever deploy to the Indo-Pacific region, during which, the crew completed a full spectrum of operations to support the highest priority tasking.


USS Illinois (SSN 786) departs Groton, Connecticut to conduct sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of
General Dynamics Electric Boat.)

We are in an
era of great power competition. Utilizing the strength, determination, and
lessons learned from those brave submariners before us, we will continue to be
first to the fight, just like at Midway. We are trained, equipped, and ready to
fight tonight because we have not forgotten our past.  

Editor’s Note: The four-part “Then and Now” NavyLive blog series is presented so
interested audience members have an idea of what’s changed, and what has not,
since the famed Battle of Midway. As the nation faces the Great Power
Competition, “Midway” is an authentic representation of the Pacific in the
opening months of WWII and can help people understand the value we provide
today, and honors the toughness, initiative, integrity and accountability that
are Sailors’ core attributes. The movie reflects the extraordinary
determination and courage of those who fought in WWII, and showcases how the
Navy team worked together then, as we do today.

Excerpt from:  

Then and Now: Midway and Submarine Force

USS Constitution Marks 10 Years as America’s Ship of State

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By Mass Comm. Spec. 2nd Class Casey Scoular, USS Constitution Public Affairs

This year marks USS Constitution’s 222nd birthday—the big triple-two. Our ship was launched into Boston Harbor on Oct. 21, 1797, making her the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. 

This year also marks another big milestone: October heralds the 10th anniversary of Constitution’s designation as America’s Ship of State.

On Oct. 28, 2009, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act; section 1022 designates USS Constitution as America’s Ship of State.


BOSTON (July 1, 2019) Sailors assigned to USS Constitution furl the mizzen topsail during weekly sail training. Constitution’s crew members conduct weekly training to learn and retain sailing information. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular/Released)

But why? With so many titles and accomplishments, ranging from “Old Ironsides” to “the Eagle of the Seas” to “Boston’s only undefeated team” (33-0), why add “America’s Ship of State” to the mix? What exactly does a ship of state do?

Before we get into that, let’s look at how USS Constitution earned her awesome reputation.

At the start of her national service, USS
Constitution protected America’s merchants during the Quasi War with France and
had a few at-sea Ws under her belt by
the time she finished mopping up corsairs during the first Barbary War.

Her record at this time is 17-0; however, her greatest test was still to come: the powerful British royal navy.

The British were fighting Napoleonic France at sea and needed men for their navy. So they decided to start taking our Navy Sailors and forcibly drafting them into the Royal Navy. Not cool! The United States was fed up with this practice and the trade restrictions imposed against neutrals, so we declared war on Britain. So began the War of 1812.


“Constitution vs. Guerierre.” George Ropes, Jr. 1813 Oil on Panel, USS Constitution Museum Collection

At the outset of the war, we were looking at David-and-Goliath odds. The American people feared they would be back under British rule again because Britain had the best navy in the world. After the British naval victories over the French, Spanish, and Dutch navies during the Napoleonic Wars, the royal navy was seen as invincible.

But Isaac Hull and the crew of USS
Constitution changed that. 

USS Constitution faced HMS Guerriere in August of 1812 and defeated her in our Navy’s first frigate-to-frigate battle at sea. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during that fight, when cannonballs were seen bouncing harmlessly off the side of her tough live-oak hull. Huzzah!

The American people welcomed Capt. Isaac Hull and his crew back to Boston as heroes.

Constitution’s victory had given the American people the hope they so desperately needed and proved that the royal navy could be beaten.

Constitution delivered more victories,
defeating another British frigate, HMS Java.

The royal navy’s confidence was shaken, and the British admiralty commanded captains to not engage American frigates unless in squadron force (two or more against one).

USS Constitution answered the challenge,
simultaneously defeating both HMS Cyane and HMS Levant in the last phase of the
war.

In 1815, the National Intelligencer, a famous newspaper of the day, hailed Constitution as a symbol of the up-and-coming United States:

“Let us keep Old Ironsides at home, she has literally become the nation’s ship and should thus be preserved in honorable pomp, as a glorious monument of her own and our other naval victories.”

Constitution became a symbol of the American
people and our ability to triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds. 


War of 1812 Constitution Anniversary Stamp USS Constitution, attributed to Michele Felice Corne, 1803. USS Constitution Museum Collection, U.S. Navy Loan

In the late 1820s, Constitution was awaiting repairs. Incorrectly believing the ship was destined for the scrapyard, physician-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (father of the eventual Supreme Court justice) wrote a poem in 1830 that implored the government not to destroy this symbol of the United States.

His poem, titled “Old Ironsides” motivated the
citizens of Boston as well as the nation to demand Constitution’s immediate
repair.

Aye tear her tattered ensign down

Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;

Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon’s roar;—

The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Constitution was repaired and put back into
service. Her 1844-46 world cruise exhibited the American flag around the world.

Now claiming the title of 32-0, she would claim one last victory at sea. On Nov. 3, 1853, while combating the slave trade, she captured an American slaving vessel, H.N. Gambrill, cementing her score at 33-0.

In 1860, USS Constitution evacuated the midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island, in fear that the Confederates would capture the city and the beloved ship.

She served as a training ship from the 1860s until the 1880s, when she was taken off the active duty roster and resigned to service in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


Detail of the only known photograph of USS Constitution under sail, taken by Army Private Hendrickson, summer 1881, Hampton Roads, Virginia. [Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston]

In 1896, President Kennedy’s grandfather, Rep. John Fitzgerald, successfully campaigned to have Constitution moved back to Boston for her 100th birthday.

Again, the citizens of Boston and the United States
wanted Constitution to be honored and revered for her service.

During the early portion of the 20th century, Old Ironsides was in Boston and began falling into disrepair. The Navy said it would restore her, but it could not fund the full extent of the work needed.

Unsurprisingly, there was a huge outpouring of
support, and people from all over the United States contributed funds to the
restoration. School children from across the country even donated their pennies
to see Constitution restored.

The “Pennies Campaign” was a huge success, and from 1931-1934, Constitution traveled around the country on a national cruise to thank the citizens of the nation for their donations.

As far away from Boston as Bellingham, Washington, huge crowds of people came to see her. In the Puget Sound area alone, she attracted a crowd of more than 500,000 people.

She even served during WWII, as a receiving
barracks for troops transitioning between duty stations.

In 1976, during bicentennial celebrations, she hosted Queen Elizabeth II while on her tour around the country. By now, of course, our two countries had long been close allies.

Constitution represents the United States, from our ingenuity and fierce fighting spirit to our warm hospitality and friendship.

She has done so much for our country and the
people of our country have expressed so many times how much they love ‘Old
Ironsides’.

So to the question of why call her our Ship of State, I think the better question is: What took us so long?

But if you’re still wondering what exactly a Ship of State does, here’s what the aforementioned Defense Authorization Act states on the matter:

“It is the sense of Congress that the President, Vice President, executive branch officials, and members of Congress should use the USS Constitution for the conducting of pertinent matters of state, such as hosting visiting heads of state, signing legislation relating to the Armed Forces, and signing maritime related treaties.”


USS Constitution is tugged through Boston Harbor during Constitution’s birthday cruise. Constitution got underway to celebrate the ship’s 222nd. birthday and the Navy’s 244th birthday. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alec Kramer/Released)

Continued: 

USS Constitution Marks 10 Years as America’s Ship of State

Navy Information Warfare Then and Now: From the Civil War to Midway to 21st Century Great Power Competition

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U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. 10th Fleet Public Affairs

With the United States and its adversaries returning to an era of Great Power Competition, in which new domains of cyber and space are rife with attacks below the level of open conflict, information warfare has never been so important to the security of the United States and its allies.  The upcoming release of the new film “Midway” reminds us all how Navy cryptologists, linguists, and intelligence personnel, the forerunners of modern information warriors, literally helped save the world 77 years ago.  Maintaining an edge over our adversaries in information warfare is just as critical and potentially game-changing today as it was on the eve of the battle that marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. 


PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 30, 2017) Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Jonathan Morel, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), uses a radar tracking system to track surface contacts. Michael Murphy is on a western Pacific deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Kelley/Released)

Naval information warfare traces its history to the
Civil War, when specially trained personnel intercepted and deciphered enemy
signals and formulated ways to protect their own communications. The first
radio transmission from a U.S. Navy ship in 1899 led to the assignment of radio
intelligence and communications security duties to Sailors and Marines.

During World War I, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in cooperation with MI-8, the cryptanalytic office in the Army’s Military Intelligence Division, solved a Japanese diplomatic code before the end of the war. Due to a lack of traffic and a lack of linguists, the office was quickly downsized at the end of the war.

Throughout the 1920s, Capt. Laurance F. Safford, regarded by many as the “father” of Navy cryptology, advocated more effort for Communications Intelligence (COMINT). Safford recruited promising cryptanalysts by putting puzzles in the Navy’s monthly Communications Bulletin, beginning in mid-1924. Over the years, he recruited many who sent in successful solutions.

The first pupil to come to Safford for training, in
1924, was Ensign Joseph N. Wenger. A more formal class in all aspects of COMINT
and communications security began the following year. Among the students in
that group was LT Joseph J. Rochefort. Both Wenger and Rochefort went on to
make significant contributions to American cryptology.

In October 1928, the Navy and Marine Corps’ first
training class of radio intercept operators convened. The school’s original
location was in a blockhouse on the roof of the old Navy Department
building.  Graduates were nicknamed the
“On-the-Roof Gang.”

From 1928 to 1941, the school graduated 176 Sailors
and Marines who were the first enlisted radio operators and formed the vanguard
of naval cryptology.

In a letter, dated May 13, 1929, recognizing the need
for radio intelligence, the Chief of Naval Operations indicated his intention
to establish a radio intelligence office with the Asiatic Fleet and to organize
cryptanalytic units afloat. Cryptologic units in Washington and Hawaii as well
as the establishment of a special cryptographic system strictly for COMINT were
then included in Navy war plans.

The increased emphasis on COMINT operations paid off
early. Larger numbers of intercept operators enabled the U.S. fleet to copy a
considerable volume of radio traffic from the Japanese fleet’s 1930 Grand Maneuvers.
These messages revealed Japan’s battle plan against the United States, Japanese
fleet mobilization procedures, and Japanese plans for defense of the western
Pacific. To the surprise of the Americans, the Japanese had an excellent grasp
of American war plans for the Pacific.

The evolution of naval cryptology, from 1924 to 1935,
gave rise to the Communications Security Group, which was established on March
11, 1935. This date is considered the birthday of Navy cryptology.

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, December 7,
1941, when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl
Harbor, Japanese armed forces conducted military operations throughout the
Pacific and Southeast Asia. The first phase of these operations, which was the
seizure of various island groups in the central and western Pacific, was
virtually complete by March 1942.

Progress against the Japanese Navy’s operational code,
JN-25, was a challenge. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, only 10 to 15
percent of the code was being read.

By late spring of 1942, Cmdr. Joseph J. Rochefort, officer in charge of COMINT processing at Station Hypo, the Navy’s codebreaking organization located at Pearl Harbor, and Lt. Cmdr. Edwin T. Layton, the Pacific Fleet staff intelligence officer, were able to make educated guesses regarding the Japanese Navy’s movement.

On May 19, Rochefort and his team identified Midway and Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians as specific Japanese objectives. On May 22, following a radio deception operation, Fleet Radio Unit Melbourne, a U.S. fleet radio-intercept unit located in Melbourne, Australia, confirmed Midway as a target. Station Hypo then discovered the date cipher used in Japanese message traffic. Analysts could then determine exactly when the attack would take place. After examining previously intercepted messages, Hypo predicted an attack on Midway on June 4. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief, Pacific Fleet, used this estimate to plan American countermeasures that included reinforcement of the forces already on Midway.

During the height of WWII, the Navy’s communication program comprised more than 22,000 officers and 225,000 Sailors. Throughout the Korean, Vietnam and Cold War, information warfare was vital to protecting the U.S.  During that time, information warriors have played a direct role in every U.S. conflict and have evolved to meet the dynamic challenges of modern cyber warfare.

Part of that evolution included the establishment, on Feb. 6, 2004, of the Navy Cryptologic Technician (Networks) rating. It was designed to further develop a skilled work force to meet fleet requirements in computer network defense and other computer network operations. The next year, the Navy renamed cryptologic officers “information warfare officers” to reflect the expanded competencies of information operations and cyber warfare.

The White House Cyberspace Policy Review of May 2009
stated that “America’s failure to protect cyberspace is one of the most urgent
national security problems facing the new administration.”

Two months later, Secretary of Defense Gates unveiled
his plan for military cyberspace operations. In a memo to the Secretaries of
the Armed Forces, he wrote, “Our increasing dependency on cyberspace, alongside
a growing array of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, adds a new element of
risk to our national security.

To address this risk effectively and to secure freedom
of action in cyberspace, the Department of Defense requires a command that
possesses the required technical capability and remains focused on the
integration of cyberspace operations. Further, this command must be capable of
synchronizing war-fighting effects across the global security environment as
well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners.”

In response, the Information Dominance Corps was
established, Oct. 1, 2009. The corps consists of four separate communities:
Information Warfare/Cryptologic Technicians; Intelligence/Intelligence
Specialists; Information Professionals and Technicians; and
Oceanographers/Aerographers.

On Jan. 29, 2010, U.S. 10th Fleet was recommissioned
and Fleet Cyber Command was established. The dual-hatted command assumed the
Navy’s cryptologic, information operations, network operations, cyber,
electronic warfare and space missions.

Vice Adm. Timothy “TJ” White, the Navy’s community
leader for Cryptology and Cyber Warfare, released on Feb. 8, 2019 a new vision
titled, “Navy Cryptologic & Cyber Warfare Community Vision” which serves as
an aligning narrative for the community. According to the vision, the Navy’s
Cryptologic and Cyber Warfare Community is responsible for delivering
competitive outcomes in all domains of warfare through the application of
Cyberspace Operations, Signals Intelligence, and Electronic Warfare.

The Navy views the electromagnetic spectrum-cyber environment as a primary warfighting domain. Information warfare officers and cryptologic technicians are the principal warfighters. Information warfare specialists are directly involved in every aspect of naval operations, deploying globally to support Navy and joint military requirements. Mirroring the impact that the forerunners of modern information specialists made during conflicts such as the Battle of Midway, they deliver vital information to decision makers by attacking, defending and exploiting networks to capitalize on vulnerabilities in the information environment and continue to defend the nation.  

NOTE: This blog is one of a four-part series to honor the Navy victory at the Battle of Midway and to highlight current Navy capabilities against modern and future U.S. adversaries.

Continue reading here: 

Navy Information Warfare Then and Now: From the Civil War to Midway to 21st Century Great Power Competition

Cyber Workforce: Critical to Defending the Navy in Cyberspace

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By the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare

“As the greatest potential source of cybersecurity
vulnerabilities, the workforce level of knowledge, training and daily action
will either contribute to safe operations or present opportunities for
adversaries to exploit. “  SECNAV Cyber Readiness Review, 2019

To prevail in cyberspace against determined, well-resourced,
and highly skilled adversaries, the Navy must attract, train, and retain a
counterbalancing force of cybersecurity professionals capable of defending our
data, systems, and networks. Others have come to the same conclusion –
recruiting, developing, and managing cyber workforce talent are key themes in
every Federal and Department of Defense (DOD) cybersecurity policy.

Cybersecurity personnel are in high demand. To attract
qualified candidates, DOD and the Navy have either begun or expanded existing
initiatives to recruit, train and retain the cyber workforce.

  • Congress and DOD have approved direct hiring of government
    civilian cyber personnel and authorized special pay for them. Fleet Forces Command
    is in the second phase of implementing this new personnel system, called the
    Cyber Excepted Service.
  • The DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) offers
    cyber recruitment scholarships for college students and retention scholarships
    for DOD Federal employees and military members. These incentives are available
    for current and prospective Navy personnel.
  • The Federal CIO’s Council has finished training
    two groups of students at the Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy, which
    develops the next generation of cybersecurity talent from those already filling
    other civilian roles in government.  The
    Council is now evaluating results from these two groups to further refine the
    Reskilling Academy curriculum.    

To identify possible skill gaps, the Navy is coding its
military and civilian cyber billets by work role and required proficiency
level. This is a daunting task – there are 54 work roles, 3 levels of
proficiency for each role, and more than 36 thousand personnel filling cyber
positions – but the Navy will complete the coding quickly and correctly to
ensure it has the right numbers and types of people to defend itself in
cyberspace.


CORAL SEA (August 3, 2017) Quarter Master 3rd Class Sharon Stone, from Pittsburgh, Pa., checks coordinates on a computer in the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alexandra Seeley/Released)

The Navy is partnering with DOD to formalize the training,
education and/or certifications required for each role. The Navy has mapped its
schoolhouse training to the 54 roles, and DOD has begun mapping commercial
certifications to them as well. When finalized, the DOD roles qualification
matrix will be a valuable tool for the Cyber Workforce to assess their
suitability for a role and identify a path for career development.

Leaders, supervisors and members of the Cyber Workforce are
encouraged to take advantage of the available programs, authorizations and
opportunities.   

The critical importance of a ready cyber workforce is well recognized
and the Navy is taking steps to close readiness gaps because a fully manned,
well trained, and highly proficient Cyber Workforce increases our warfighting
capability by reducing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

Taken from:

Cyber Workforce: Critical to Defending the Navy in Cyberspace

Then and Now: MIDWAY and the U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

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By Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Midway.
The mere mention of it warms the heart of a U.S. aircraft carrier Sailor. At Midway
Island, American aircraft carriers secured the greatest victory in our Navy’s
history and changed the course of World War II. The aviators who served and
flew off carriers Enterprise,
Hornet
and Yorktown
struck a decisive blow against the powerful Japanese fleet. During the Battle
of Midway, the aircraft carrier proved to be the preeminent weapon system in
the naval arsenal, a distinction that it holds today and will hold for the
foreseeable future.


SBD Dauntless dive bombers from USS Hornet (CV-8) approaching the burning Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma to make the third set of attacks on her, during the early afternoon of 6 June 1942. Mikuma had been hit earlier by strikes from Hornet and USS Enterprise (CV-6), leaving her dead in the water and fatally damaged. Photo was enlarged from a 16mm color motion picture film. Note bombs hung beneath these planes. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Midway,
a feature-length film scheduled for release on November 8, tells the story of
the Sailors and aviators who fought so bravely in June 1942. This retelling
comes at a critical time for our Navy and our nation. Seeing the attack on Pearl
Harbor and the Battle of Midway on the big screen serves as a reminder of the cost
of unpreparedness in an age of great
power competition.

Under the brave leadership of Admirals Raymond
Spruance and Frank
Fletcher, our Sailors displayed toughness and answered the call. Young
aviators, lacking experience and flying planes that were no match for the
Japanese aircraft, stared death in the face and delivered. Overcoming long odds,
these heroes carried the day and prevailed in war at sea.


USS Enterprise (CV-6) steaming at high speed at about 0725 hrs, 4 June 1942, seen from USS Pensacola (CA-24). The carrier has launched Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6) and is striking unlaunched SBD aircraft below in preparation for respotting the flight deck with torpedo planes and escorting fighters. USS Northampton (CA-26) is in the right distance, with SBDs orbiting overhead, awaiting the launch of the rest of the attack group. Three hours later, VS-6 and VB-6 fatally bombed the Japanese carriers Akagi and Kaga. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the U.S. National Archives.

Unlike the fleet of late 1941 and early 1942, today’s
aircraft carriers are trained, equipped, and ready for a high-end fight. The large-deck
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and embarked carrier air wing are relevant and
potent year after year and decade after decade because they remain lethal,
agile, and resilient. Modern carrier strike groups (CSGs) comprise an
ever-changing combination of cutting-edge technology, next generation aircraft,
and advanced weapons systems to remain dominant over realized and potential
threats. They are central
to conduct of Distributed
Maritime Operations within the modern Fleet Design.


Torpedo Squadron SIX (VT-6) TBD-1 aircraft are prepared for launching on USS Enterprise (CV-6) at about 0730–0740, 4 June 1942. Eleven of the 14 TBDs launched from Enterprise are visible. Three more TBDs and ten F4F fighters must still be pushed into position before launching can begin. The TBD in the left front is Number 2 (Bureau No. 1512), flown by Ensign Severin L. Rombach and Aviation Radioman 2nd Class W. F. Glenn. Along with eight other VT-6 aircraft, this plane and its crew were lost attacking Japanese aircraft carriers somewhat more than two hours later. USS Pensacola (CA-24) is in the right distance and a destroyer is in plane guard position at left (80-G-41686).

The CSG provides our national command
authority with options, access, and a survivable forward presence that allows
for a rapid response to a wide spectrum of threats or natural disasters. The speed,
composition, integration, and maneuverability of a CSG allow it to penetrate
contested waters and airspace, enabling the embarked air wing to project unrelenting
power over great distances. The CSG’s ability to sail and fight anywhere in the
maritime domain enables the United States to continue to secure peace,
stability, and strategic lines of commerce and communications around the world.


ARABIAN SEA (Oct. 20, 2019) Sailors upload ordnance to an F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to Fist of the Fleet of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mohamed Labanieh/Released)

America requires the right aircraft
carriers—and enough of them—to operate with allies, overmatch adversaries, and
defend national interests in this age of great power competition. In the
future, when the president and fleet commanders ask the familiar question,
“Where are the carriers?” the answer must be, “On station and ready.”

And manned with Aviators and Sailors
with the same grit and determination as their predecessors at Midway.

NOTE: This blog is the first of a four-part series to honor the Navy victory at the Battle of Midway and to highlight current Navy capabilities against modern and future U.S. adversaries.

Read this article:  

Then and Now: MIDWAY and the U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

The Threat from Within

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By Carlos F. Parter, FCC/C10F Office of the Navy Authorizing Official

When
we consider cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, we often think of
external actors. Indeed, external actors work hard to get into our information
technology infrastructure. Surprisingly, they are not our primary threat. When
external actors successfully exploit a vulnerability, you must consider how and
why. More often than not, the exploit was because of failures from within.

One
of the biggest threats to the security of our information systems and networks
is the insider threat. Internal actors are responsible for 75% of security
breach incidents. Do the math. Three-quarters of successful attacks on our
information systems come from within our infrastructure. The bad guys are
working hard to get in, but the internal actors already have the keys to the
kingdom.

What
is an insider threat? The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act defined an insider
threat as, with respect to the Department of Defense, a threat presented by a
person who has, or once had, authorized access to information, a facility, a
network, a person, or a resource of the Department; and wittingly, or unwittingly,
commits an act in contravention of law or policy that resulted in, or might
result in, harm through the loss or degradation of government or company
information, resources, or capabilities; or a destructive act, which may
include physical harm to another in the workplace. 

Simply
put, an insider threat can be characterized as a malicious threat to an
organization that comes from people within the organization, such as employees,
former employees, contractors or business associates, who have inside
information concerning the organization’s security practices, data and computer
systems.

The
insider threat is like a cancer that keeps eating away at our cybersecurity
controls. The central purpose of cybersecurity is to ensure the
confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our information. In other
words, only authorized users should have access to the information, the
information should be unaltered, and the information should be available to
authorized personnel on request. The threat from within circumvents our ability
to effectively secure our information resources from unauthorized access.

So,
who is the insider? The insider could be anybody. Some examples of insiders are
disgruntled employees, careless users or system administrators, those who are
seeking financial gain (cyber/industrial espionage), untrained users, untrained
system administrators, an employee with an internal sense of loyalty to a
cause, etc. Any of us, or those who we work alongside (we are all “insiders”),
could be the malicious insider at any given time if we do not take
cybersecurity seriously. It only takes one person to open the door and allow
bad actors unauthorized access.

People
are the weakest link to any robust cybersecurity program. In contrast, people
are also our greatest asset and our first line of defense. We are the eyes and
ears of information security. If you see something, say something. Vigilance is
essential to ensure that our sensitive information is protected from
unauthorized access. We have to familiarize ourselves with the indicators of
the insider threat and act accordingly.

Indicators of an
Insider Threat

What
are some indicators of the insider threat? The following is a list of some
possible indicators of which we should be mindful:

  • Poor
    performance reviews. An employee may take a poor performance review personally
    and seek to get even with the company or organization.
  • Strong
    disagreements over policies and standards. An employee may circumvent a policy
    that he or she does not support.
  • Financial
    distress. Employees may feel overwhelmed regarding their financial status and
    make a rash decision to share sensitive information with external actors for
    personal gain.
  • Financial
    windfall. A shipmate has a new car, new house, or other tangible assets that
    are unexplained/unusual for his or her household income.
  • Unreasonable
    disagreements with co-workers/senior management. Violent behavior should be
    observed and reported to the chain of command.
  • Seeking
    information about projects or information to which they are not assigned or
    have access. Be cautious of individuals who are overly interested in sensitive
    projects in which they do not have a need-to-know.
  • Unusual/unreported
    overseas travel. Foreign travel to spots that are not frequented by tourists,
    not required for work, or have no personal ties to the individual could be an
    indicator of espionage. Also any routine but unreported travel outside the
    United States.
  • Secrecy.
    We should be careful with the sensitive information we are responsible for safeguarding,
    but we are not the owners of the information. Be aware of personnel who are
    overly secretive about their job.
  • Odd
    working hours. Be mindful of personnel who do not have a need to work outside
    of normal working hours and have access to sensitive information.
  • Inattentive
    work habits. Careless or inattentive work habits could result in an inadvertent
    spillage of sensitive information.

Fighting the
Threat

We
must create a culture of acceptable user behavior. The culture begins at home.
Be cognizant of what you post to social media. Think twice before posting
information about work. If the information is regarding a sensitive project or
could lead to aggregated information that could become sensitive, do not post
it to your social media accounts. Better yet, do not share sensitive
information (part or whole) outside of work. Keep your operating systems
updated, secure your Wi-Fi, monitor your browsing habits, avoid clickbait, do
not install software from unverified sources, and keep your antivirus up to date.

Some
of the mitigations to minimize the insider threat in the work place are as
follows:

  • Company/Organization
    Policy. Users should be informed of expected behavior and the consequences of
    failure to comply.
  • User
    Awareness Training. We cannot overemphasize the need and importance of an
    effective user training program. Include spot checks, bulletin board postings,
    and other ongoing awareness activities to ensure insider threat awareness is
    ingrained as a central part of an organization’s culture. Include our individual
    responsibilities to report suspicious activity.
  • Network
    Monitoring. Monitor and baseline normal behavior and set alerts on deviations
    from normal behavior.
  • Separation
    of Duties. This requires dividing functions among multiple personnel to make it
    difficult for one individual to cause damage to an organization without a
    co-conspirator. It should take two to tango.
  • Job
    Rotation. When possible, create a work culture that fosters the sharing of
    ideas, but relies on the basics of cybersecurity to ensure you have a means to
    identify possible unusual user behavior. Job rotation is a great countermeasure
    to the insider threat. Job rotation improves your workforce skills and
    minimizes complacency from repeating the same tasks day in and day out.
  • Onboarding/Offboarding.
    An effective tool in defending against the insider is a command’s
    Onboarding/Offboarding process. When you onboard a new hire, you have the
    opportunity to share the organization’s vision, mission, and expected behavior.
    When using offboarding, you can see what the organization is doing right,
    ensure a smooth transition, and ensure that the former employee no longer has
    access to vital information technology resources.

Fight the Good
Fight

There is no guarantee to rid our networks of the insider threat, but we can minimize the damage. We can all work together and do our part to ensure the damage done by the insider does not result in grave harm to our information systems and networks. Take user awareness training seriously, do not be afraid to speak up, govern your network hygiene, and be a part of the solution. The insider threat not only affects our cybersecurity posture, but the malicious insider degrades our operations security and counter intelligence activities. Our network depends on you — the users and administrators. For news and information from Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/FCCC10F/ or follow us on twitter @USFLEETCYBERCOM.


Graphic illustration by Defense Media Activity

Link: 

The Threat from Within