JULY 12, 2016, TAMPA, Fla. (NNS) – More than 200 information warfare community selected reservists, full-time support, civilian, and active-duty Sailors came together for the Naval Information Force Reserve (NAVIFORES) Annual Commanders’ Conference in Tampa, Florida, June 24-26.
The annual conference, hosted by NAVIFORES Commander Rear Adm. Dan MacDonnell, provided a rare opportunity for reserve component (RC) information warfare community (IWC) officers and chief petty officers to interact with active-duty and reserve IWC flag officers, command and force master chiefs, members of the NAVIFORES staff, and operational support officers (OSOs) to discuss the IWC’s current and future status and the role Navy Reservists should expect to play in it.
MacDonnell’s special guests included Rear Adm. Matt Kohler, commander, Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR); Rear Adm. Bob Sharp, commander, Office of Naval Intelligence; Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; Rear Adm. Linnea Sommer-Weddington, deputy director of Warfare Integration for Information Warfare; Royal Air Force Commodore Steve Thornber CBE, deputy director, Intelligence (Operations), U.S. Central Command, and NAVIFOR Force Master Chief Toby Ruiz.
Notably, all of the admirals mentioned the strategic guidance from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, “A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” during their remarks and each touched on the maturation and scope of the IWC. Completely unrehearsed, all five flag officers underscored that the design is not Richardson’s design, but our design.
MacDonnell kicked off the conference with his presentation, which covered several topics including his current priorities as the Reserve Force type commander, a look back on the accomplishments of NAVIFORES headquarters and its six regions over the past year, and upcoming leadership changes in the Navy. One of the priorities MacDonnell stressed was innovation.
“Everything is on the table,” he stated. “We need to continually look at our processes and look at ways to help Reservists and simplify our overhead.”
MacDonnell also stressed Richardson is a strong proponent of the IWC. On the recent announcement of the next Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), MacDonnell said, “My claim to fame will be that my office was next to then-Force, now Fleet, and soon-to-be MCPON Giordano’s office while at NAVIFOR, but in all seriousness, his selection to be MCPON is just another example of CNO’s confidence in the IWC.”
Sommer-Weddington briefed on the organization of OPNAV N2/N6, and on a few items within her Reserve portfolio. Her demonstration of the Ready2Serve app drew a lot of interest from the crowd. She also gave the latest update on the Navy Reserve Mentor Network program.
Kohler gave the attendees an update on the IW type command, explaining, “Everything we are trying to achieve is within the construct of the design. How we perform in information warfare will prove decisive in any future naval engagements.”
For that reason, he explained that NAVIFOR is standing up the Information Warfighting Development Center (IWDC).
“The IWDC will make good information warfare professionals even better, and will deliver new operational capabilities to the fleet,” Kohler said.
Gallaudet, who is also Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy, presented an update on his two responsibilities and talked about the need to understand and exploit the environment for tactical and strategic gain. Gallaudet also briefed on the successes of active and Reserve component integration at CNMOC’s various subordinate commands.
Thornber gave an unclassified update to U.S. Central Command’s responsibilities and expressed Reservists are needed for their diverse experience. Thornber also highlighted the need for not just intelligence, but full-spectrum information to have a true understanding of the environment.
Sharp updated the audience on maritime challenges being worked by ONI and its subordinate centers of excellence. He stressed the importance of information warfare as it is inculcated in all other warfare domains. Sharp conveyed his admiration for Reservists, noting he had worked with several of those in the room in previous tours. His opinion on employing Reservists in intelligence operations was, “As long as you invest a little, you get a huge return.”
He concluded his remarks with three final thoughts.
“We can ill afford to lose the active/reserve relationship built since 9/11; we need to take advantage of Reservists’ civilian expertise, and we need to combine our communities in ways that we do not already,” he said.
Ruiz also gave updates on what is going on at the type command. He gave a preview of upcoming changes to the enlisted warfare specialty. Now that NAVIFOR’s name has officially changed, programs like the warfare specialty programs will change to reflect information warfare as opposed to information dominance.
Uniformed and non-uniformed members of the NAVIFORES staff also briefed several topics important to the Reservists, FTS, and AC Sailors attending the conference.
Mike Kautz, deputy chief of staff (DCOS) for Manpower and Mobilization, and his deputy, Dave Coop, covered important workforce and mobilization challenges. They stressed the importance of updating Manpower Availability Status (MAS) codes on the Reserve Unit Activity Document (RUAD) since the code is key to determining a Reservist’s availability for mobilization.
Joe Oatis, DCOS for Command Services, briefed on the NAVIFORES awards process during a working lunch session. He stressed awards for Selected Reservists should be routed through the supported command. For region staff, he explained updates to make the award approval process easier and faster.
Officer Community Managers Patricia Pifer and Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Skelton gave a detailed presentation on the health of each IWC subcommunity. They covered the promotion outlook over the next five years and accession rates for direct commission officers and Navy veterans.
Capt. Mark Baenziger briefed the updated Commander, NAVIFORES Strategy, which is based on Secretary of the Navy and CNO strategic documents, including the design. The updated strategic goals are:
– Man and train NAVIFORES to deliver assured command and control (C2), battlespace awareness & integrated fires
– Equip NAVIFORES to enable integration & readiness
– Identify as one force
– Shape a warfighting culture
Capt. Sean Kentch, N2 for Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command, and Julie Coop, NAVIFORES DCOS for Budget and Programming, covered the importance of obligating funds, by closely tracking orders routed in the Navy Reserve Order Writing System as obligation does not occur until orders are approved.
Finally, the Navy OSO for U.S. Special Operations Command briefed on IWC missions sets within special operations. OSOs from Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency gave brief plugs on their responsibilities to integrate Reservists into operational missions.