The Threat from Within

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

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.

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

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. 

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

  • 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

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 or follow us on twitter @USFLEETCYBERCOM.

Graphic illustration by Defense Media Activity


The Threat from Within

Ten Takeaways: The Education for Seapower Report

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Ten Take-Aways: The Education for Seapower Report

by Mr. John Kroger, Chief Learning Officer, Department of the Navy

In February 2019, the Department of the Navy issued its
landmark Education
for Seapower (E4S) Report, calling for major reform and improvement of our
system of naval education for commissioned and enlisted Sailors and Marines. The
Department of the Navy is beginning to implement the report’s recommendations
at the direction of the Secretary
of the Navy Richard V. Spencer, through his memorandum
to all naval forces. When fully implemented, these changes to our education and
promotion systems will have a profound impact on our naval services. Because of
this, it is essential that policy makers and indeed our entire force understand
the report and its conclusions. I recommend that everyone read the full E4S report:
it is filled with important insights into the nature of seapower in the 21st century
and the essential contribution of education and intellectual development to
maintaining naval dominance. Since, however, the main section of the report is 71
pages long, I thought it would be useful to summarize its main conclusions and
recommendations. Accordingly, here is my take on the 10 most important takeaways
you need to know about the future of Navy and Marine Corps education from the
E4S report.

1.         Education of our force is vital to
national security 

After exhaustive study of the strategic challenges we face
as a nation, the E4S Board concluded: “The education of our naval leaders is
the single most important way to prepare the Naval services, and the nation,
for a dangerous and uncertain future.” As retired Admiral James Stavridis
observed in the report, “In the end, 21st century warfare is brain-on-brain
conflict, and we must build our human capital and intellectual capacity as
surely as we produce the best pure war fighting technology if we are going to
win the nation’s wars and advance its security.” 

2.         Our current educational efforts are

Because our intellectual capital is so vital to our nation’s
security, developing that capital through education becomes a top priority, at
least as important as building platforms and weapons systems. The E4S report
concluded that our current system of educating Sailors and Marines is
“insufficient to create the operational and strategic leaders needed for the
modern Navy and Marine Corps.” Indeed, the report noted that in some respects,
we have gone backwards. “While 98% of Flag officers had attended the Naval War
College on the eve of World War II, today, only roughly 20% have.”

NEWPORT, R.I. (March 19, 2018) U.S. Naval War College (NWC) students participate in a learning game beta test by NWC’s Joint Military Operations and Wargaming departments. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jess Lewis/Released)

3.         Immediate action is necessary

Unlike a weapons system, we can’t just buy a strategically-minded
senior non-commissioned officer or field grade staff officer – it takes years of
education and the right motivation to develop the creativity and critical
thinking required to lead through an uncertain future. The E4S board concluded
that inadequate intellectual development of our force “is THE fundamental
problem that must be corrected now.” We need to strengthen our capabilities in
leadership and ethics, strategic education, technology and science,
organizational management, logistics and acquisition. Failure to change and
improve, the report noted, would be a “strategic blunder.” This will require a major
cultural shift, so that every naval warfare community and discipline recognizes
the full value of education to our national security. 

4.         We must invest in and support our educational institutions

After studying the Naval War College, U.S. Naval Academy,
Naval Postgraduate School, and Marine Corps University, the E4S Board concluded
that though these schools have proud histories and talented faculty, they are “underfunded,
under-prioritized, under-utilized, and disconnected from one another, without
any unifying strategic vision or purpose.” The report noted in particular that “Faculty
are not receiving enough funding to teach effectively, develop professionally,
and conduct research.” To fix these problems, the report calls for the creation
of a unified Naval University System, changes to intellectual property rules
for faculty, major budget process reforms within the Pentagon, and an increase in
high priority funding.

5.         We must create a Naval Community
College for enlisted personnel

Our enlisted Marines and Sailors represent a national
treasure, both in terms of intellect and selfless dedication to service. Yet we
do not provide adequate educational opportunities that will help them develop their
vast capacity to help solve the strategic challenges of the future. The report
notes that despite many programs to support enlisted education, “valuable
talent from the largest part of the services is not being utilized.” To tap
into and develop this talent, the report calls for the creation of a Naval
Community College offering “rigorous associate of science degree programs for
naval sciences, with concentration , such as, data analytics, organizational
behavior, and information systems.” 

6.         We need 21st century education

The E4S report recognizes that residential education
delivered over an extended period of time in a traditional campus setting is a
very valuable educational tool, but that deployments and operational and
training needs often make residential education difficult to obtain. To address
this problem, the report calls for adoption of more flexible education delivery
models, including short executive courses, stackable certificates that lead to
degrees over time, and better use of available technology to deliver education
outside the brick and mortar classroom. The report also calls for two important
changes in emphasis in our school curriculums: coursework leading to “greater
understanding of emerging technologies,” and “more theoretical education in
order to develop true critical thinkers and leaders.”  

NEWPORT, R.I. (Aug. 15, 2018) Lt. Sarah Miller of Lacey, Washington, an instructor at Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS), discusses virtual conning of a ship with Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Midshipman 3rd Class Christopher Anstett, of Buffalo, New York, a student at State University of New York Maritime College, during the 2018 NROTC National Shiphandler of the Year competition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nardel Gervacio/Released)

7.         The Navy must adopt school selection

Achieving a high-quality educational outcomes means much
more than retaining the best professors or creating challenging curricula. The E4S
report noted deep concerns about how Navy officers are selected for and perform
at graduate professional military education schools.  “Leaders candidly observed that the Navy
often sends poorly qualified officers to fill quotas. This practice includes
sending non-due course officers, junior officers to senior programs, and
restricted line officers, such as dental officers and chaplains, to fill quotas
meant for unrestricted line officers.” As a result, Navy officers “consistently
underperform the officers of other services.” To remedy this problem, the
report calls for “competitive in-residence graduate selection boards” similar
to those already adopted by the Marine Corps – a process that has
already begun in the Navy and is still being refined by both services.

8.         The Navy must change its evaluation and
promotion system to value education

For education to truly matter to the naval services,
excellence in learning must be recognized and rewarded. The E4S report
concluded that while Marine officers and enlisted personnel are required to
pursue and complete education coursework to qualify for promotion, many Navy
officers do not, because education is not seen as necessary or valuable to
career advancement.  “Education is
currently viewed as an obstruction in naval career paths by the majority, an
obstruction exacerbated by the needs of the personnel assignment system,” and “there
are not enough incentives for the personnel to continue higher education.” The
report thus recommends significant changes to how we evaluate and promote
officers, to insure that career incentives promote, not discourage, educational
and intellectual development.

SAN DIEGO (June 1, 2018) Capt. Richard LeBron, executive officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), places a lieutenant shoulder board onto the uniform of Lt. j.g. Allen On, the ship’s safety officer, during a promotion ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Charest)

9.         Leaders must take responsibility for education
in their command

If we want our forces to reach their full strategic and
operational potential, our officer and enlisted leaders must model a commitment
to excellence in lifelong learning. The E4S report notes that though it is
critical for leaders in our force to pursue their own intellectual development,
this alone is not sufficient. In addition, our leaders need to “assume
responsibility for the education of their charges.” This means that leaders at
all levels, both commissioned and noncommissioned, must help the Marines and
Sailors they command identify, obtain and complete the academic coursework we
need for our national security.

10.       Improving education is a team effort          

Finally, the E4S report makes clear that all of us,
individually and collectively, are responsible for strengthening the
intellectual capabilities of our naval forces. Individual Sailors and Marines
must pursue more education and take their academic performance just as
seriously as they do the performance of their operational duties. Our leaders
must obtain world-class education while taking responsibility for the educational
advancement of the men and women they lead. 
Our educational institutions need to reinvent their curriculums and
delivery systems so that greater educational impact can be achieved for sea
services that are by definition continually deployed. And the Department of the
Navy as a whole must invest in our schools and make badly needed reforms to our
personnel systems so that education becomes a top priority.  These reforms are not optional. This is a
fight we must win if we are to do our duty to protect national security. 

Credit – 

Ten Takeaways: The Education for Seapower Report

USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) Commissioning

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of USS Cincinnati (LCS 20)’s commissioning ceremony.

The principal speaker will be Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. Former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will serve as the ship’s sponsor. Senior military representative at the ceremony will be Adm. James Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy.

The future USS Cincinnati is the fifth U.S. Navy ship to honor Ohio’s third largest city.

Live video of the Oct. 5 ceremony on the west pier in Gulfport, Mississippi, is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. (CDT).

Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

An interchangeable mission package is embarked on each LCS and provides the primary mission systems in one of these warfare areas. Using an open architecture design, modular weapons, sensor systems and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles to gain, sustain and exploit littoral maritime supremacy, LCS provides U.S. joint force access to critical areas in multiple theaters.

Initiated in February 2002, the LCS program represents a reduction in time to acquire, design and build ships in comparison to any previous ship class. Currently, a total of 33 LCS are planned: 16 ships have been delivered (LCS 1-14, 16 and 18); 10 additional LCS are under various stages of construction and three are in the pre-construction phase.

CINCINNATI, Ohio (March 28, 2019) Crew members of the future USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) engage the crowd during a namesake visit to Cincinnati, Ohio while riding atop a float made to look like the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi Cheek/Released)

CINCINNATI (March 28, 2019) Cmdr. Kurt Braeckel, commanding officer of the future littoral combat ship USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), greets two young children during the 100th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. Braeckel and other USS Cincinnati crew members were in the city as a part of a namesake visit by the ship’s crew. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Aubrey Page/Released)


USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) Commissioning

How NSS Reforms Helped Us Fix Our Squadrons

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By: Cmdr. Kelly Borden, VFA-122 Maintenance Officer

Achieving 343 mission-capable Super Hornets was a great accomplishment. It was no small feat; it was a herculean effort we should all be proud of. Here at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, our focus is now on sustaining these numbers.

F/A-18 E Super Hornet
ARABIAN SEA (Sept. 16, 2019) An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). The 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 and the Pacific 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 3rd Class Michael Singley/Released)

Last year, when then-Secretary Mattis ordered the Navy to get to 80% mission-capable, we at the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) for the F/A-18E/F, VFA-122, had just 17 mission-capable jets out of 46 available. We needed parts, equipment and experienced personnel.

As NSS-A (Naval Sustainment System–Aviation) kicked off, we started to transfer our long-term down aircraft to the Naval Aviation Maintenance Center for Excellence, which enabled us to better focus our resources on our flyable jets. We gave them more than a dozen long-term down aircraft, and our numbers dipped to 11 mission-capable out of 32 total. As a result, we started to notice a reduction in distractions and an increased focus on making mission-capable aircraft that were immediately able to go on the flight schedule.

In January, representatives from the Boston Consulting Group came to NAS Lemoore. These commercial aviation experts helped airlines maintain exceptional aircraft mission-capable rates. There was some skepticism at first; we’re not exactly a for-profit operation but for the most part, we were willing to jump headlong into their reforms. After all, we had been doing things the same way for years and were looking at many long-term down jets; what did we have to lose?

One of the most powerful reforms we made is developing crew leads for each individual aircraft. Each jet coming into the hangar for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance now has a first-class or sometimes a second-class petty officer in charge of it. That Sailor is responsible for taking ownership of the aircraft to coordinate all maintenance requirements, leading a team of personnel to complete all maintenance, and returning the aircraft to the flight schedule by the expected delivery date. The petty officers are telling us what they need, instead of the other way around. The fact that our maintainers are more invested in the results and being held accountable has driven our success. It also has allowed our chief petty officers to work the big-picture details and reduce barriers for all the jets.

After several months of implementing the O-level (squadron) reforms, enthusiasm increased, and we turned a corner. We started to realize we were capable of meeting the 80 percent goal, something that many thought we couldn’t do. Our mission-capable aircraft rate has increased every month. Today, we have 31 mission-capable jets out of 42 at VFA-122. We have bigger classes of replacement aircrew and bigger training detachments—and we are moving the needle for combat readiness.

NSS-A is the first time in my 29-year career that we have seen the Navy take a holistic approach to attack Super Hornet readiness. We have had tremendous support from the air wings, Strike Fighter Wings, the Fleet Readiness Center, the supply and engineering communities—the list goes on and on. I’m happy to be a part of it.

Our Sailors have increased their knowledge and experience under the crew lead approach, and they’ll be better chiefs as a result. If we continue to get the resources and support from our leadership, we are confident that we can sustain strike fighter readiness and keep improving. Navy leadership has removed some of the barriers, and through the hard work of our Sailors, we’re putting more jets into the air. Now our job is to keep ’em flying.

Taken from:

How NSS Reforms Helped Us Fix Our Squadrons

CNO Adm. Gilday: Small Steps Save Lives

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By Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and while we should talk about this
subject year-round, it is important to me that we have a frank conversation about
this right now.

Suicide is
a tragedy that extends beyond individual Sailors. Every death by suicide —
whether it be uniformed Sailors, Navy Civilians, or families — affects our
entire Navy family, and it
is extremely troubling to me that suicide continues to be a
leading cause of death in our Navy. 

We all go through challenges and stressors
that can be difficult to talk about… But no one should feel so isolated or overwhelmed by
events that they consider suicide.

That is why it is important that we talk to
our shipmates … really talk to them.  Ask
them how they’re doing
and actively listen. Talking about our challenges, whether
they’re operational, social, or psychological, is one small act we can do every day to make all of us better. It fosters a climate of trust and encourages Sailors to ask for help
in their time of need. 

We must build that trust up and down the chain
of command to ensure Sailors feel comfortable reaching out to their leadership
and shipmates. 

Let me be clear. There cannot be BYSTANDERS in
our Navy. That is why it’s so important that WE ALL take the time to look for
potential warning signs. We need all hands on deck for this.

Right now, in your
division, your department or your command, there is someone that needs your
help, who is struggling with stress or having thoughts of suicide.

Sometimes the signs are verbal, like a Sailor
casually saying that they feel like they have no purpose or feel as though they
don’t belong. There may also be behavioral signs, like increased alcohol use or
other substance misuse, withdrawing from usual activities, or uncharacteristic
rage or anger. 

Look closely for these signs when your
shipmate is experiencing a combination of multiple stressors, including:

  • Relationship problems
  • Personal or professional loss
  • Recent career transitions
  • Disciplinary / legal issues and financial strain
  • The harmful effects of prolonged stress and chronic sleep deprivation

With many suicides, shipmates saw signs of
distress but weren’t able to recognize them as indicators of suicide risk. Trust
your gut and ACT (Ask,
Care, Treat). Use intrusive leadership, look your shipmates in the eyes, and ask,
“Are you okay?” 

I expect our leaders to build and support
Command Resilience Teams.
Along with suicide prevention coordinators, use your chaplains and embedded mental
health providers. I
want our leaders to set a tone within their commands where Sailors feel
comfortable and have the courage to ask for help without fear of judgement or
consequences. That way when Sailors do seek help, they do so confidently,
knowing they’ll receive the support and resources they need.

While we have strengthened our efforts through
initiatives like “Every
Sailor Every Day,” along with the Sailor Assistance and
Intercept for Life program, or SAIL, we have to sustain momentum beyond a
singular conversation, momentary action or the creation of a new policy.

Help is always available. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Military Crisis Line or text 838255 for free confidential support 24/7.

Be there for every Sailor, every day.

NORFOLK (Sept. 13, 2019) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Paul Kopel and Peg Smith, health promotions staff members at the Branch Health Clinic (BHC) at Naval Station Norfolk, set up a display of 79 pairs of boots to remember the 79 Sailors who were lost to suicide in 2018 and to raise awareness for suicide prevention. “Have you seen the boots?” is an initiative to identify and remember Sailors lost to suicide and to identify what the Navy community is missing when it comes to this tragedy. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Imani N. Daniels/Released)

Continue reading:

CNO Adm. Gilday: Small Steps Save Lives

Navy EOD: Clearing the Arctic’s Sea Lanes for Our Fleet and Nation

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By Capt. Oscar Rojas,
Commodore, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One

Over the past two decades of war, Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) has become almost synonymous with enabling counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in the deserts and mountains of the Middle East, growing our expertise in improvised explosive device threats and clearing a safe path for America’s special operators downrange. As we grew our force significantly to face these threats, we maintained our ability to support the fleet in responding to conflicts at sea and in the littorals. In an era of great power competition, we recognize the threats of an emerging Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. We realize the important and incredibly specific role we hold in support of our Navy and our Nation. We are the only EOD force who is trained to eliminate and exploit underwater threats, and our expeditionary divers are the first naval assets on the scene to assist in salvaging ships and aircraft and clearing sea lanes and ports for use. This month, we shook the desert sand out of our boots and donned dry suits and cold-weather gear in Alaska as part of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019 to prepare our forces to operate in austere environments that could replicate future battlefields. As the Commander of U.S. Third Fleet’s Naval Expeditionary Combat Force (Combined Task Force 35), I mobilized our forces here for three reasons: to increase our agility in places we have not been in a long time; to test the limits of our technology, training, and logistics; and to build battle-mindedness across our force. 

Hunting Mines in the
Gateway to the Arctic

One of the hallmarks of the EOD community is ensuring security and supporting safety not only for our Nation’s combat forces but also for the U.S. homeland. Additionally, we must prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies to preserve freedom of the seas and defend our sovereignty. Fittingly, the Department of Defense Arctic Strategy also calls for supporting these same objectives in the Arctic region. Our EOD forces, which include our expeditionary Navy divers, have expertise that is relevant to both large-scale military conflicts as well as low-intensity conflicts and regional posturing. Specifically, we are the only Navy community with mine warfare as a core competency for both our officers and enlisted, and our forces have exercised those capabilities in the Arctic waters off of Adak, Alaska this month. Sailors and Marines from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One’s expeditionary mine countermeasure (ExMCM) companies successfully tested their ability to operate unmanned underwater vehicles and conduct expeditionary mine countermeasures in very shallow Arctic waters. This is the farthest north our man-machine team has operated in the Western hemisphere and the first time Navy EOD employed ExMCM companies to enable access in a simulated denied environment for the United States Marine Corps’ Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s amphibious operations.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 2, 2019)Operations Specialist 1st Class Sean McNamara, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One (EODMU1), launches the Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish for an initial underwater survey of Sweeper Cove on Adak Island in the Alaska’s Aleutian chain. EODMU 1 is providing expeditionary mine countermeasures support in support of Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

As the Navy is responsible for supporting and enabling
amphibious landings for the United States Marine Corps, a path to the beach
should be determined free of danger before a landing force’s arrival. The very
shallow water zone, defined as depths between 10 to 40 feet of water, presents
unique environmental challenges that may limit underwater visibility and pose a
greater danger of placing personnel in a minefield. During the exercise, the
ExMCM company worked together with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs),
specifically the Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish and Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish, to ensure the
very shallow water zone was free of hazards. The team conducted mine hunting,
hydrographic surveys and intelligence preparation of the operational
environment ahead of Expeditionary Strike Group Three who will be conducting
amphibious operations in the region in the coming weeks. Navy EOD’s competitive
edge lies in how our human Sailors, with their creativity, pattern recognition
and innovation, can team with technology to give our Nation the strongest mine
countermeasure force with the fewest blind spots, and we are adamant about
improving that relationship daily. During AECE 2019, we identified
opportunities to refine our tactics, techniques and procedures and intend to
share these lessons learned so that America’s Navy is better prepared to fight
for sea control in the Arctic environment.

Mobile Diving and
Salvage Teams Providing Port Access

Just as our EOD forces support deterrence of aggression, promote freedom of navigation and will contribute directly in a future fight for sea control, so too do our expeditionary divers. Underwater hazards can be used to deny free access to ports, harbors and river and restrict movement through critical sea lines of communication. Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU-1), based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, mobilized to Adak, Alaska, to conduct a salvage and removal operation of the stranded fishing vessel Heritage that was blocking access to a boat ramp that is the primary launch point for commercial and private fishing vessels in the area. The abandoned fishing vessel prevented the local community from using the harbor to its full potential. The Navy divers conducted surveys and inspections on the fishing vessel in May to gain a full understanding of the job and what personnel and equipment would be required for the mission. After conducting the site survey, the divers found F/V Heritage was beyond salvageable due to its structural state, so they scrapped the vessel by cutting it in place until smaller sections of the vessel could be pulled onto shore for disposal. While this salvage and removal operation primarily focused on removing an underwater hazard for the community of Adak, it also provided realistic and relevant training for Navy divers in a cold-water environment to ensure they are ready to maintain physical access to ports and contribute to our Nation’s lethality whenever, wherever. Removing the fishing vessel not only removed a navigational hazard but also set the conditions for potential military training on Adak in the future.

ADAK, Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Navy Diver 1st Class Jack Dalziel, assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1), dismantles the hull of the F/V Heritage, an abandoned vessel that had been blocking access to a boat ramp on Adak Island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandon Raile/Released)

MDSU-1 is one of only two such units in the entire U.S. that
can clear ports by removing damaged or stranded vessels or returning them to
sea. These units, comprised of Navy divers, engineering duty officers,
explosive ordnance technicians, administrators, and medical teams, fall under
the Navy EOD community because of the close relationship we share in conducting
expeditionary diving objectives as well as the crossover between our two
skillsets. Rest assured our Navy divers are combat-ready, rapidly deployable
and able to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery,
and underwater emergency repairs in any environment.

We were honored to assist the local community with such an
important project in Adak, and we greatly appreciated their support of our EOD
and dive teams while visiting. Like much of what we do, having a community that
supports us makes our jobs easier and more enjoyable.

Commanding and
Controlling Combat Forces

While our Navy EOD and dive teams conducted missions in Adak, our CTF 35 staff exercised our ability to command and control mine countermeasure forces from over 1,000 miles away in Anchorage. Typically mine countermeasure squadrons fulfill this role; however, in an expeditionary environment where a light, fast and precise ExMCM capability is needed, I wanted to ensure Navy EOD was ready to assume control of operations. Before arriving in Alaska, our team underwent mine countermeasures staff planning training in July to ensure we were properly prepared to support a mine warfare commander in combat. The procedures for employing and countering obstacles on land differ from those at sea, and after 17 years of land-focused warfare, I needed to know our staff understood how maritime forces work together to predict, detect, prevent, avoid, neutralize, protect and respond to potential hazards in the maritime domain.

Our communications team tested five different communications systems to support the command and control of our forces, including a test of our ability to conduct high-frequency communications, which has become a dying art form in recent years with the advent of satellite communications. In the future, it will be necessary to be able to establish communications in a denied environment if our satellite communications were to be hacked of jammed by an adversary.

Alaska (Sept. 3, 2019) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 1 established high-frequency radio communications from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 operating over 2,000 miles away in Adak, Ak., during Arctic Expeditionary Capabilities Exercise (AECE) 2019 with high frequency antennas. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Information Systems Technician Terry McCray-Matt/Released)


During the exercise, our training department created a
rigorous expeditionary training schedule for Group One Sailors that included
small arms training, land navigation, combat medicine training,
counter-improvised explosive device, counter unmanned aerial systems and
chemical weapon training. As members of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, we
have all been equipped with basic expeditionary combat skills through the
Expeditionary Combat School, but our training does not stop at the schoolhouse.
This exercise proved it does not take an operator to be battle-ready or
battle-minded. Every single one of the Sailors assigned to Group One
understands the necessity of this training and why we must be able to fight
tonight. That is what sets us apart from our adversaries and what sets us apart
as an expeditionary combat force. From the third class petty officer in our
administrative shop to our most veteran EOD operators, our Sailors will be our
asymmetric advantage against our adversaries in a future high-end fight.

Where We Are Headed

Conditions in the Arctic are changing fast and Navy presence
in the region will only continue to grow in the future. It is no coincidence
that we exercised our capabilities in the port of Adak, which sits at the
strategic intersection of the North Pacific Great Circle Route and the
Northwest Passage, Transpolar and Northern Sea Routes. As Arctic sea lanes open
and shipping traffic increases, U.S. maritime forces have a responsibility as
global leaders to secure shipping lanes, protect natural resources, deter
conflict and safeguard national interests. Navy EOD will be the premier EOD
force for ensuring that our forces in the Arctic region remain undeterred by
the threat of explosives. As we execute our mission of eliminating explosive
threats so our fleet and Nation can fight and win, whenever and wherever they
choose, we are keeping a close eye on future opportunities in the region,
developing cutting-edge technology and updating tactics so that we can increase
the lethality of Navy EOD and maintain our competitive edge against our
adversaries. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to exercise our EOD
and expeditionary diving capabilities in Alaska this month in support of the
Navy and Marine Corps, and we thank the local community for their incredible
support. We are already looking ahead to the future for more opportunities to
train in Arctic waters in support of our nation’s objectives.

Capt. Oscar Rojas is
currently serving as the Commodore of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One stationed
in San Diego, California. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One mans, trains,
and equips seven subordinate units to eliminate explosive threats for our fleet
and Nation in any environment.


Navy EOD: Clearing the Arctic’s Sea Lanes for Our Fleet and Nation

The Navy Picked You for a Reason

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By Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday

Today, around the Navy and
around the world, men and women—Sailors—are making an incredible transition and
advancing to Chief Petty Officer. The Navy Memorial is one of our most sacred
places, here in Washington, D.C., and today I will stand with a group of
Sailors who will receive their anchors. I can’t think of a more fitting place
to celebrate such a transformational day.

Over the past six weeks,
many Sailors have been challenged, and those challenges were hard but nothing
compared to what they will face in the years to come. And that’s ok, because
challenge is good. Challenges strengthen us. As I reflect on the critical
impact Chiefs have had on my life and career, I am convinced of the importance
of the Mess as an institution.

My first Chief told me that
our most important weapons system is our Navy Team and their families. People
are and will continue to be our key competitive advantage over any adversary.
The fact that I am highlighting this enduring principle, 34 years after I first
heard it from my Chief, reflects how pivotal Chief Petty Officers have been in
my own life and career.

Every time I get the
opportunity to reconnect with a group of Chiefs, I leave feeling uplifted and
inspired. Those brief times reinforce how important the institution of the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess is to our Navy and
our nation.

I use that word institution carefully. When we use it,
we often do so to indicate something that has merely been around for a long
time. That’s not what I mean today. That usage of the word indicates staleness
and complacency, the exact opposite of what the Chiefs’ Mess represents. The
original meaning is far better. The word “institution” is the “action of
establishing or founding” and under this definition, the institution of the
Chiefs’ Mess is not who you are, or the insignia you wear, or the fact that
we’ve marked this occasion for many years, but what you do, the actions you
take, day-in, and day-out, large and small—that Chiefs routinely undertake to
enable our Sailors to perform at their very best.

Even the briefest review of history demonstrates that Chief Petty Officers are Sailors of action. Some of their names, like John Finn, or Oscar Peterson or Peter Tomich—all Chiefs who were awarded the Medal of Honor—are legends in their own right. These examples of valor and of sacrifice are worthy of telling and retelling, but there is something even greater than these individual examples. Our Navy’s achievements throughout our history are due in large measure to the training and mentorship provided by Chief Petty Officers.

Later this year, we’ll commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The line of heroes we look to for inspiration from that series of combat actions is long as well. We will remember Cmdr. Ernest Evans and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Copeland and Gunner’s Mate Third Class Paul Carr. A Chief isn’t in that list, but the Sailors and Officers we lionize from that battle were all trained and mentored by Chief Petty Officers. Those Chiefs would probably tell you that they weren’t looking for credit. They weren’t looking to get their name mentioned by the CNO 75 years later. They were focused on the actions they needed to take to establish the Chiefs’ Mess, to institute the Chiefs’ Mess—every day. They were focused on making our Navy team the most lethal weapons system in our arsenal and they were focused on creating winners – the Sailors and Officers whose actions would cement the U.S. Navy’s combat record and show that our destroyers can fight like battleships as they did at Leyte Gulf.

I sent a letter to all of
the Chiefs who just donned their anchors, and I’ve charged them and those who
already wear anchors to think about the Chiefs’ Mess as an institution: the sum of the daily acts, both small and large, that
continue to challenge us and force us to rise to the standards of those who
came before. The actions that will leave our Navy in a better position
tomorrow. I also told them that this can’t happen from the physical space of
the Mess. They have to be constantly involved in their Sailors’ lives on and
off duty.

Chiefs, carrying forward the legacy of those who came before you will test you, and will draw on all the skills, knowledge, and experiences that formed the basis for your selection. The demands you face are tall indeed, and I have high expectations of our Chief Petty Officers, as do the Sailors you serve and lead. However, I am confident that you’ll rise to meet these obligations, making the most of each and every day, leading Sailors and Officers to fulfill the promise of their potential. The challenges we face as a Navy and a nation demand that you do so, as do those who wore anchors before you. We need your best efforts more than ever. I want every Chief in the fleet, new and old, to remember that the Navy not only expects more of you, but demands it—now more than ever. To those of you donning your anchors today, congratulations. You are now the Chief! Thank you for all that you do, and I’ll see you out in the fleet.

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The Navy Picked You for a Reason

Navy Band Orchestrates Partnerships in Africa

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The band exists at the tactical level of relationship building. At the boundary between cultures, the band is the bridge. –Adm. James G. Foggo, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa

By Musician 1st Class Joseph Schoonmaker

The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s brass band, “Topside,” just returned from a six-week deployment to the Gulf of Guinea aboard USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS). The deployment took us to Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde, each country providing unforgettable opportunities to make connections with people from all walks of life, with diverse cultural backgrounds, using the universal language of music.

ROTA, Spain (July 2, 2019) The Spearhead-class expeditionary transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departing Rota, Spain for an Africa Partnership Station deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

The purpose of this deployment was to strengthen partnerships and demonstrate U.S. commitment to West African partners. The mission focused on small boat maintenance, maritime law enforcement, Navy medicine, and community relations outreach, with embarked teams from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard as well as Sailors from the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish navies.

“Topside” is a traditional “New Orleans-style” brass band. We take great pride in the diversity of music we represent, and in preparation for our performances in Africa, we tried to learn at least one song from each country on the deployment schedule. We do this to demonstrate respect for their culture and to grow as musicians. It also opens the door to collaborating with local musicians, creating unique moments in live performances. We have found audiences from Italy to Latvia to West Africa to be very appreciative that we have invested the time and energy to engage with their music. When we visit countries where language provides a barrier to interaction, music acts as an international language. With the connection of music, the band helps build true and lasting partnerships. As I like to say during concerts and workshops, we are not there to impose our culture but rather to offer a true exchange where each side learns and grows.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 9, 2019) – Musicians from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band Topside perform with local musicians during an Africa Partnership Station community engagement at the Blaise Senghor Regional Culture Center of Dakar, Senegal. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

We met the USNS Carson City in Dakar, Senegal. At the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July celebration, we were joined onstage by the popular djembe drummer “Papis.” We also enjoyed a collaborative performance with musicians, dancers, and actors from the National School of Arts, during which they taught us a Senegalese folk song. Our African music education became a theme and the key to our relationships during APS. Prior to the trip, we learned “Conquer the World” by Youssou Ndour featuring Akon. We used both songs throughout the deployment. The highlight event in Dakar was a concert at the African Renaissance Monument during the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. The crowd, watching the matches on a big-screen TV, joined us for a rousing rendition of “7 Nation Army,” which is used worldwide as a stadium chant, just as Benin won a penalty shootout. The energy was electric and created a truly memorable experience for the band and the crowd.

DAKAR, Senegal (July 4, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, performs during a 4th of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, July 4, 2019. The NAVEUR Band supports commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa/Joint Forces Command Naples, and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet priorities, which serve to enhance international community relations among partner nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

The next leg of the trip was in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. For our performances and radio interviews, the band was accompanied by two French-speaking U.S. Navy Sailors with local connections. The diversity of the band provided us with an opportunity for genuine local interaction. One of the Sailors, a naval reservist who grew up in Abidjan, taught us an Ivorian folk melody. We played it for the radio shows as well as live audiences. The students from the University of Felix Houphouet Boigny gave us one of the most enthusiastic receptions we’ve ever seen, singing, dancing, and chanting, “USA! USA!”

ABIDJAN, Cote D’Ivoire (July 16, 2019) The Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside”, is interviewed by local media during a tour of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) while the ship is in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 17, 2019) – Lt. Lynda Amegee, from Lome, Togo, dances while U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, performs during an audio recording for Al Bayane 95.7 FM radio station in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons/Released)

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire (July 18, 2019) – The U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band New Orlean’s brass band, Topside, performs alongside a child during a community relations project at the SOS Children’s Village Abobo Gare. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Our next stop, Sekondi, Ghana, offered further proof of West African hospitality with a welcome party featuring Ghanaian bands accompanied by traditional dancers, gifts of soccer-style scarves, and a red, white, and blue cake. We teamed up for a reggae jam session with a Ghanaian Navy Band in Tema, having a musical conversation. Previously, while underway from Cote d’Ivoire to Ghana, we learned a folk melody from several Ghanaian Sailors who joined Carson City for a few days. As with each country on this trip, audiences immediately recognized the tune and sang along. The music not only brings the musicians together but also, through dancing and singing, encourages the relationships of the other APS crew members with our host-nation partners.

SEKONDI, Ghana (July 21, 2019) Chief Musician Justin Belka, a trumpeter for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band’s New Orleans brass band, Topside, plays alongside the Ghanian band Rhythm 360 while the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) is in Sekondi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ford Williams/Released)

TAKORADI, Ghana (July 22, 2019) – Takoradi residents dance as the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), parades through the streets of Takoradi, Ghana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Nigeria brought a welcomed return to Lagos for our band, as we had previously visited during exercise Obangame Express, a large collaborative naval exercise in March of this year. During that exercise, we were introduced to Freedom Park, a special place in the life of the city. We thought it would be a great place to perform, not knowing we would get that opportunity just five months later. Our Nigerian song of choice was “Water No Get Enemy” by afro-beat legend Fela Kuti. Rehearsal leading up to our first performance had a different energy as everyone understood the significance of playing the music of such a significant cultural icon as Fela Kuti, while in the very place he had cultivated a following that would eventually spread throughout Africa and the world. Even understanding the significance of the moment, we could have never imagined the reaction we received. The audience practically jumped out of their seats when we hit the first note! The next day, we performed the same song on Silverbird TV, reaching millions of viewers in and beyond Lagos. Playing Fela Kuti in that city and getting that reaction was a special, unforgettable moment in our musical careers. This demonstrates the power and impact of maintaining relationships with our partners. Our previous trip to Nigeria served to enhance our visit during APS.

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 28, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) performs at Johnson Jakande Tinubu Park in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

LAGOS, Nigeria (July 30, 2019) – Band members from U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band, “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), perform as musical guests on the television show “Today on STV” at SilverbirdTV in Lagos, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

Cabo Verde closed out the deployment for us. We were privileged to play “Sodade,” a beautiful Cabo Verdean ballad, outside the municipal market in downtown Mindelo. The band played softly and let the crowd carry the tune. It was a special moment and a wonderful reflective way to close out our time in Africa. It was the last in a series of outstanding, often unscripted, shared experiences that served as the lasting hallmarks of our deployment.

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside,” embarked aboard the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), performs on the streets of Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

MINDELO, Cabo Verde (Aug. 8, 2019) – U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s New Orleans brass band “Topside” performs during a media tour on the flight deck of the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in Mindelo, Cabo Verde. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman/Released)

All told, we performed 40 times for live and broadcast audiences exceeding 15 million. The social media impact has been significant and is, in fact, ongoing. This mission was a pitch-perfect example of what Navy bands are capable of and how they can contribute to broader goals of the Navy and the United States. On a personal note, this deployment has been the highlight of my career thus far and an experience for which I am profoundly grateful.




Navy Band Orchestrates Partnerships in Africa

Pacific Northwest CDS: How to Use Your Voice, Invoke Positive Change, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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By MC1 Sarah Villegas, Office of the MCPON

Known for its sprawling mountains, pine forests, and rivers of coffee, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a picturesque tourist destination.

It’s also home to several navy bases — serving critical warfare areas and providing an environment for the fleet to train, repair and replenish. 

MyNavyHr recently brought Navy leadership and detailers to meet with PNW Sailors to share more on current and upcoming initiatives while giving attendees the chance to share feedback during a Career Development Symposium.

The forum was about practicing radical candor on both ends: admirals and seamen alike, being transparent about limitations and opinions respectively. Imagine having the chance to tell “them” how much you dislike a policy or have a bone to pick with the process of picking orders? Sailors were able to do just that. Rather than being penalized for criticism, they were encouraged to speak up and offer solutions as to how we can work to fix issues and improve the Navy. 

This is where the whole process starts. Leaders like MCPON, the Chief of Naval Personnel, and the commander of Navy Personnel Command hit the road to find out what you need most. They visit ships, submarines and air squadrons to see what our folks need in order to accomplish the mission, while taking care of themselves and their families. 

Fulfilling those needs may involve various types of actions such as requesting increased funding in the budget, mining for innovative ideas, to finding compromises that work best for the Sailor and the Navy at large. From their visit to the deckplates, leadership then takes feedback and new ideas back to Washington D.C. to discuss with other senior leaders, such as the Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy, and, as necessary, congressional members.   

Admittedly, positive change and addressing some of our most vexing challenges can be a slow moving process, often requiring additional funding, approval at various levels, and congressional support.

190227-N-YG104-0026 WASHINGTON (February 27, 2019) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith departs the Russell Senate Building, near the U.S. Capitol building, after testifying on Military Personnel Policies and Military Family Readiness during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. Smith shared testimonies that advocated for child care, housing, and Sailor 2025 initiatives. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Sarah Villegas/Released)

MCPON Testifies to Congress, Advocates for Quality of Life Resources

Some issues are easier to identify and solve than others. The feedback we get from Sailors on the deck plates is only part of the equation. Other parts include Facebook Live events, questions and comments on command social media pages, external media coverage, and other types of events, for instance, the National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies

From these multiple sources, themes start to emerge, priorities determined, and perspective solutions become clearer. This all results in the wheels of positive change in the Navy to begin turning internally — and the wheels are always turning whether you seem them or not. 

This is why it’s crucial that you speak up — in a constructive manner — and share your insights. More than saying “it sucks,” share your ideas on how we can make it better for you, your Sailors, your family, and everyone that follows. After all, it’s your Navy. We are fortunate to live in an era where leadership believes that your voice is critical in solving the issues at hand. And, increasingly, there a multiple avenues of communication that are easier and more direct. Sure, it might seem intimidating to stand up and ask MCPON or an admiral a question, but remember, these leaders come to listen.  

The purpose of the many efforts discussed at CDS is to remove distractions that stand in the way of readiness. “Instead of standing in line at PSD or wasting your time trying to fix your pay, we want you to be able to perfect your craft while knowing that you and your family are well cared for.” -MCPON Smith 

The Navy is home to tremendous opportunities. As with any organization, it must continuously evolve and remedy issues in order to make it better for those who are a part of it. In order to reduce administrative distractions, there are projects underway to consolidate and improve communication between databases, so that a Sailor has to input one piece of information one time. Some of these creaky databases date back decades! That’s just one example that shows the mountains we’re climbing to modernize our personnel systems.

Commonly Asked Questions from CDS PNW:

Q: How does the Meritorious Advancement Program affect quotas? 

A: 10 percent of the total fiscal year 2019 advancement quotas have been allocated to 2019 MAP Season Two. NAVADMIN 176/19

Q: What’s the latest on Tuition Assistance?

A: Beginning Oct. 1, 2019, enlisted Sailors and officers must complete a minimum of two years of service before becoming eligible to use TA or NCPACE instructor-led or Distance Learning (DL) courses. This requirement may not be waived. In addition, TA and NCPACE (DL) funding is capped at 12 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) per fiscal year (FY) and a total of 120 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) in a career.  Most Sailors in recent years have only used up to an average of nine semester hours annually. NAVADMIN 114/19

Q: What is the Navy doing about increasing the availability of child care? 

A: The Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), which oversees the CDCs and MCCYN, is working hard to address the child care capacity shortfalls issue. While the Navy has made significant headway to meet the demand for child care Navy-wide through the combination of military-operated and approved community-based programs, there is more work to do. In FY20, Navy has budgeted increased funding for child care to add 1,000 new spaces through community partnerships. 

Q: Why is the Navy including planks to the Navy PRT? 

A: The plank is a better test of core strength and endurance and will likely reduce lower back injuries or strain due to poor form when doing the curl-up. The plank will be a timed event with scoring based on the amount of time a Sailor can maintain the plank position. Currently, the goal is to release these changes in calendar year 2020.

Q: What about beards?

A: No changes to the current policy are being considered. Safety continues to be the primary concern. In March 2016, the Naval Safety Center conducted a study to consider how facial hair affects the proper fit of respirators worn to conduct many duties in the Navy. The results showed that in general, the presence of beards and wide sideburns had a detrimental effect on the performance of the respirators. The study concluded that facial hair interferes with the seal and degrades respirator performance.

Obviously some of these are of much greater importance than others — depending on your circumstances both professionally and personally. These issues aren’t to be taken lightly, because they directly correlate to the livelihood, well-being, and retention of skilled Sailors.

Even if you don’t have a CDS coming to you anytime soon, you’re encouraged to reach out and reach up. Write a point paper, send an email to (, or connect with the Navy on social media to shape the future of our Navy. Not only are you allowed, but you’re encouraged to do so. 

Just as the PNW is riddled with rugged terrain and obstacles to overcome, so is your service. Anything worth doing will have its challenges — but it’s better to be equipped with the gear and resources you need to get to the top of that mountain. 



Originally posted here:  

Pacific Northwest CDS: How to Use Your Voice, Invoke Positive Change, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Teaching Today’s and Tomorrow’s Surface Navy to Fight and Win

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Kimberly M. Lansdale Center for Surface Combat Systems Public Affairs The Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) headquarters’ staff oversees 14 learning sites and detachments located throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Spain, and Japan. CSCS trains over 38,000 U.S. Navy and international Sailors each year. As a global organization, technology plays a key role in how we train surface warriors to fight and to win. In an ever-advancing technological society, CSCS implements a variety of training enablers to achieve the ultimate goal of Sailor 2025’s Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) pillar — provide Sailors the right training at the right time in the most effective manner throughout their careers. The Navy introduced Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment (STAVE) in 2013 to provide better quality training resulting in more rapid qualifications of Navy officers and Sailors. Instructional systems and simulated physical environments provide watchstanders and maintainers the ability to gain proficiency through repeatable exercises, drills, and evolutions ashore. STAVE-CS (Combat Systems) Solutions  Combined Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Trainer (CIAT) The purpose of CIAT is to provide a warfighting training laboratory that is realistic and relevant in training our Sailors and officers to employ the full range of the combat system capability against advanced threats in complex operating environments. CSCS has two CIATs, one in San Diego, which opened in December 2018, and one in Norfolk, which opened in July 2019.  In addition, there are two Reconfigurable Combat Information Center Trainers, a CIAT minus the ASW capability, at the AEGIS Training and Readiness Center. CIAT provides our watchstanders a state-of-the-art training lab to detect, control and engage simulated modern threats in challenging environments. With an emphasis on realism, it replicates a warship’s actual combat suite. We can reduce visibility, increase wave heights, degrade weapons systems, overwhelm the radars with clutter returns, and in the end, force every single watchstander in combat to adapt to challenging threats. We have to ensure our Sailors have trained and succeeded in a “worst case” scenario. What makes CIAT unique is its ability to replay all decisions from a scenario in a full debrief. We synchronize all console and headset communications against the scenario ground truth to show each team the cause and effect of every decision. CIAT’s approach to immersive training has had an immediate impact on watch team cohesion and effectiveness and is unlike anything we have seen before.

Chief Operations Specialist Anna Penrod, left, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), and Lt. Aaron Van Driessche, CSCS Det San Diego’s course supervisor for AWT, participate in an air defense scenario at the Combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Trainer (CIAT). CIAT is the Navy’s newest combat systems trainer. Rafael Peralta became the first warship to pilot the advance warfare-training curriculum at CIAT. 

  Aegis Ashore Team Trainer (AATT) Managed by CSCS Unit Dam Neck, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, AATT serves as the single site for training and certifying rotational Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) crews to serve at the Aegis Ashore site in Romania and a future site in Poland. It houses a mock-up of the shore-based Aegis Combat Information Center and Communication Center and hosts a complete replica of the tactical warfighting, communication and information technology systems resident at Romania. The AATT course includes an eight-week training and certification pipeline, a five-week basic phase conducted by CSCSU Dam Neck, a one-week qualification phase conducted by Afloat Training Group (ATG) Norfolk, and a two-week certification phase conducted by Tactical Training Group Atlantic (TACTRAGRULANT). During weeks one and two, CSCS instructs students on basic system capabilities and limitations, theater operational procedures, console operator familiarization, and BMD mission planning. During weeks three through five, the watch team executes a series of increasingly complex tactical team scenarios, flexing the extensive capabilities of the high fidelity trainer while turning the students into a cohesive tactical team. After the five-week basic phase, the crew completes their BMD Qualification (BMDQ) administered by ATG Norfolk. Following a successful BMDQ, TACTRAGRULANT supervises the execution of a BMD Exercise (BMDEX), in coordination with theater ballistic missile defense assets, as a capstone to the AATT course of instruction. AATT allows us to train, qualify, and certify our Sailors so when they arrive in Romania they are immediately prepared to contribute. This represents the next evolution in combat systems training and sets a clear standard for what we will strive to achieve in future training endeavors.

During a team training exercise at the Aegis Ashore Team Trainer (AATT), AATT students work at the consoles to gain experience working with the system and to certify for operations prior to deployment.

  High Fidelity Shore-Based Trainers The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Training Facility (LTF) is the first surface warfare training facility to provide integrated bridge and combat systems tactical scenario training for Sailors serving with an LCS. The LCS drives a new approach to individual, team, and unit-level training to accommodate the minimum manning and rotational crewing concepts. Operational demands do not allow sufficient time for under instruction watchstanding or proficiency training during operational periods, and crews do not have organic training teams or embedded training systems. This new approach drives the need for the shore-centric Train-to-Qualify and Train-to-Certify concepts, which rely heavily on high-fidelity shore-based trainers. Currently, an LTF in San Diego provides training for both LCS variants. Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center (FLEASWTRACEN) operates it. CSCS has a second LTF, located at Naval Station Mayport, which CSCS Detachment Mayport operates. It provides training for the LCS 1 variant. LCS’s small crew size and lack of embedded systems mandate the use of high-fidelity training systems ashore to achieve crew training and readiness objectives.

Lt. j.g. Journae Webb, assigned to the Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Little Rock (LCS 9), serves as Officer of the Deck during live-action, interactive virtual-reality training at the Littoral Training Facility, Naval Station Mayport, June 26, 2019. All Sailors and officers assigned to an LCS train in watch stations using virtual-reality technology, and are required to demonstrate proficiency in their respective watch stations, before manning live, shipboard watches. 

  Looking Ahead These are just a few of our STAVE-CS initiatives. STAVE-CS is already improving combat readiness by providing better-trained, better-qualified Sailors to the fight. CSCS will continue to implement new technologies that shape the Sailor of today and tomorrow. An example of this is Distributed STAVE-CS, which encompasses instructional systems and simulated physical environments that can be taught from one location and delivered simultaneously through high-bandwidth communications flow to multiple other sites. It will provide tactical watchstanders and maintainers the ability to gain proficiency through repeatable exercises, drills and evolutions ashore. Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment – Combat Systems (STAVE-CS)  The video below highlights how STAVE-CS provides significant advantages by training in a virtual environment using courseware and simulators owned and implemented by the Navy. Combined Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Trainer (CIAT) CIAT was delivered in 2018 as the most capable combat systems trainer developed for the Navy surface force. This video highlights how CIAT trains operators of current AEGIS Baselines in IAMD and the latest AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 ASW deliveries using virtualized tactical code in San Diego and Norfolk. CIAT includes an in-depth, integrated debrief capability for individual and team analysis by recording simulation of scenario ground truth, instructor and watchstander console displays and audio for after-action reporting in support of student and instructor analysis. For the latest CSCS news, make sure to visit our Facebook page.  



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Teaching Today’s and Tomorrow’s Surface Navy to Fight and Win