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ASNE Day 2016 - Technical Paper Session 6 : Thursday, March 3, 2016 1515-1700

Future Trends in Naval Applications


Authors: Captain Kurt Rothenhaus USN, Mr. Bill Bonwit, Captain George Galdorisi (USN, retired), Ms. Anna Stang

Title: Distributed Lethality Command and Control Software Development and Naval Laboratories


Vice Admiral Rowden coined the term distributed lethality to describe the U.S. Navy’s need to increase surface force lethality and maintain strategic and tactical advantage in a world with an expanding array of threats to U.S. security and prosperity. As the branch of the U.S. military that will be forward deployed in the contested littorals, the U.S. Navy is developing operational concepts that will enable it to prevail against a robust anti-access area denial (A2/AD) threat. Distributed lethality is one such operational concept, and provides a method to “seize the initiative and add battlespace complexity to an adversary’s calculus,” causing the adversary to shift their defense “to counter our thrusts” (Rowden, 2015).

Demand for robust cyber platforms, agile applications, and resilient communications is expanding in correlation with the Navy’s need for programs that achieve the desired battlespace effectiveness described in distributed lethality. In particular, the development of software-intensive intelligence, command and control, and networking systems is increasing the demand to fulfill the distributed lethality imperative. As the National Military Strategy (2015) notes: "[We] are improving our global sustainment capabilities and upgrading our command and control infrastructure to better support widely dispersed operations." Government organizations are uniquely suited to lead the development and integration of the next generation of command and control software systems afloat for the distributed lethality imperative.

U.S. Navy laboratories have decades of experience successfully leading the development of complex software systems, with government civilian engineers working “hands-on” with industry to deliver innovative systems. In 2014, IEEE published an article ranking the U.S. Navy as the number one government organization in the world on its patent scorecard (Spectrum, 2014). This ranking reflects the value the U.S. Navy places in owning its intellectual property, as well as the capacity of Navy research, development and engineering commands and civilian scientist and engineers to deliver innovative solutions to the Fleet. For naval command and control systems, government expertise in software development is required to enable successful synchronization between the numerous parallel systems these command and control systems must interface with and the number of uniquely naval functions that must be developed.

The U.S. Navy has made a significant investment in its afloat infrastructure with systems such as the Navy Multiband Terminal (NMT), which dramatically improves the protected and wideband bandwidth afloat; the Automated Digital Network System (ADNS), which improves wide area networking connectivity to better manage quality of service; and the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services (CANES), which dramatically improves the computational, storage and cyber posture of the Fleet. These systems have dramatically improved the computing, cyber protection and off-ship connectivity for the afloat Navy. The investments in standardized testing, transport, connectivity and network systems in the above three systems have laid the technological backbone for new tactical software systems to meet emerging command and control and intelligence system requirements afloat. These systems need to maximize the tactical advantage of these significant investments and bring new approaches such as big data analytics, cognition science and agile methods to develop systems that support the rapid decision making and dynamic command structures envisioned in the distributed lethality concept. Bringing these disciplines together in a manner that blends the best ideas from across the enterprise—including industry—into a cohesive, elegant and holistic command and control system is among the greatest technical challenges for Navy laboratories.

We recognize that each system has its own framework and needs, and we are not advocating a one-size-fits-all approach to development. Rather, when system owners evaluate a development and acquisition approach, they examine the level of granularity of the inherently governmental engineering decisions and determine if hands-on government civilian software engineers would better drive performance and affordability. Supporting Distributed Lethality, the authors believe Government civilian scientists, engineers and developers are uniquely suited to lead a cross-industry, government and academic team to deliver the next generation of C4I command and control systems.

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