Thursday, November 13, 2014
Masters or Jacks? – VADM Branch Response
Proceedings Magazine - November 2014… by Vice Admiral Ted N. Branch, U.S. Navy, Director of Naval Intelligence/Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance
(See Masters or Jacks? by H. Stephenson, pp. 58–63, October 2014 Proceedings)
I want to thank Commander Stephenson for his recent article, which outlined his views on aspects of the Navy’s approach to developing information dominance (ID) as a fourth warfighting pillar, alongside air, surface, and undersea warfare. I welcome the continued dialogue in Proceedings on these issues that I think are important to the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and to the Navy as a whole.
Commander Stephenson is concerned that cross-detailing officers in the IDC might somehow diminish the specialized skills and abilities these officers possess and currently provide. I see cross-detailing as quite the opposite—an opportunity to capitalize on their specialized knowledge while at the same time broadening their portfolio by exposing them to the full range of ID capabilities and perspectives in order to maximize operational advantages and warfighting efforts. My intent in cross-detailing officers (i.e., detailing them to billets traditionally filled by officers from other IDC disciplines) is to more deeply professionalize the IDC by developing an acute awareness of all IDC capabilities among professionals who are already master practitioners of their respective disciplines.
This approach is not unique to the IDC; it is used by other communities to develop a similarly broadened perspective in their officers. Strengthening the interdisciplinary nature of the IDC is vital to adapting successfully to the evolving complexity of the future warfighting environment. Our Navy would be ill-served by perpetuating single-discipline solutions to increasingly complex information dominance/warfare problem sets. This approach is supported by years of academic research that points to the value of interdisciplinary education and research.
With respect to the role of ID within the existing Composite Warfare Commander construct, it is still a moving target. While we are working with the Fleet to help define the optimum organizational construct for ID afloat, that structure will ultimately be determined by the Fleet, not the Chief of Naval Operations staff in the Pentagon. It will evolve over time, through trial and error and operational stress, much as the current construct has evolved and continues to evolve today.
Commander Stephenson’s concern that the maturing role of ID afloat will distance intelligence officers from their commanders is unfounded. Having served as a warfighting commander, I’m confident that no commander will allow any organizational construct, particularly one under his or her direct control, to keep them from the intelligence (or any other discipline’s information) they might need to make critical warfighting decisions. Commanders are hungry for interdisciplinary perspectives that shape and deliver a wide range of kinetic and non-kinetic options.
One additional point: Commander Stephenson unduly constrains the impact of ID capabilities by asserting that their effects are limited to the non-kinetic realm. In fact, they contribute to or directly provide effects that go far beyond the electromagnetic spectrum. Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) is a prime example.
The Navy needs its IDC leaders to possess both a great depth of expertise in a specific discipline and a wide breadth of experience across ID and the other warfighting disciplines. This is all about warfighting. The complexity of today’s threats demands us to be both masters and jacks, and that is what we in the IDC will deliver to the Navy.
(Note: The Masters or Jacks article was reproduced in the Monday, 10 November 2014 Information Dominance News Clips)