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Q&A with Capt. Danelle Barrett--commanding officer Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic.

Capt. Danelle Barrett graduated from Boston University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History where she received her commission from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. She assumed command of NCTAMS LANT in August 2011.

Her more recent assignments include: Deputy N6 and Communications Officer, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 12; Deputy Knowledge Manager, MultiNational Forces Iraq; Information Operations Planner and Knowledge Manager, Standing Joint Force Headquarters, U.S. Pacific Command; Assistant Chief of Staff for C5, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2 which included deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Unified Response in Haiti; Information Professional Senior Officer Detailer, Commander, Navy Personnel Command.

Capt. Barrett responded to CHIPS' questions in writing in June.

Q: Can you talk about NCTAMS LANT's mission? Which commands are your critical partners and how do you work with them?

A: Our mission is to provide the operational platform for information to U.S. forces and our coalition partners and deny it to the enemy. We do that by providing secure and reliable voice, messaging, video and data communications to surface, subsurface, air and ground forces operating worldwide.

We have a great team of 2,782 personnel across the NCTAMS LANT region which stretches from the Atlantic through the Arabian Gulf and includes 17 subordinate commands and 53 Base Communications Offices that we use to accomplish this mission.


We have several critical partners that we work with including our Immediate Superiors In Command; Naval Network Warfare Command, operationally, and Fleet Cyber Command, administra-tively. We also work closely with SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command) and Navy Cyber Forces Command on issues from equipment installations and casualties to training and readiness.

Operationally, we coordinate daily with the numbered fleet commanders, strike group N6s and joint partners to ensure that we are meeting their day-to-day Department of Defense (DoD) Global Information Grid (GIG) Operations or DGO (formerly known as network operations or NETOPS), communications requirements and to coordinate upcoming outages for maintenance and upgrades.

Additionally, we work aggressively to coordinate all our activity with the other NCTAMS and Naval Computer and Telecommunications Stations (NCTSs) across the globe. DGO services know no geographic boundaries and a ship in the Arabian Gulf, for example, may be getting radio frequency and satellite connectivity via the satellite downlink facility in Germany, ultra high frequency voice support from NCTS Guam, Special Compartmented email and messaging from NCTAMS PAC, Internet Protocol services from NCTS Bahrain and homeport dial tone from NCTAMS LANT. We "failover" services between NCTAMS and the NCTSs all the time to ensure operational units maintain command and control.

It's important to always view our services across the entire enterprise and work solutions and recommendations closely with our DGO partners to ensure we are in lockstep.

Our most important partners though are the operational and fleet units and our shore-based customers. Our goal is to provide the best service possible and exceed their expectations. To do this, we have an active fleet engagement program; we send officers underway on all major fleet exercises and have a Sailor to Sea exchange program where we send our junior Sailors underway to get experience and act as liaisons back to the command.

We have a monthly newsletter we put out called The Communicator which provides advice for the fleet on common communications issues and informs them of changes and infrastructure upgrades and more.

Also, I personally visit the type commanders and every ship on the waterfront with my Operations Officers; we've done over 50 shipboard visits to date with many more scheduled. We not only meet with the commanding officers and combat systems officers but also go down into "radio" to talk to the information systems technicians and get firsthand feedback about the service we provide. We've used this feedback to change processes at NCTAMS, such as our watchto-watch turnover process and how we ensure continuity in the troubleshooting process to improve service. Our motto is "Fleet First"--and we take that very seriously.

Q: In February, NCTAMS LANT replaced an antiquated electrical infrastructure with a modernized robust power distribution system that better supports the current capabilities of the facility and allows for future expansion. Has the upgrade improved service to the fleet? Are any other improvements planned?

A: Yes, the upgrade has improved service to the fleet but not in a way that is necessarily obvious to them. It improved the reliability and availability of critical power at the NCTAMS LANT headquarters. Prior to the upgrade, we were unable to expand or add any more equipment as the power panels would not support it. Now we can continue to upgrade equipment and add capability. Also, there is far less likelihood of a catastrophic power failure that we would not be able to recover from for weeks which had been a constant source of concern prior to the upgrade when we were operating off 50-year-old infrastructure.

We have some other upgrades happening to our building over the rest of this year but the real improvements will come if a proposed MILCON (appropriation for new military construction) is approved for a new building. We are hoping that will be funded and built by 2016. It would be similar in size and scope to the new building recently built for NCTAMS Pacific in Hawaii.

Q: NCTAMS LANT jobs are staffed by members of the Information Dominance Corps, otherwise known as the Navy's cyber warriors--the hot job of the moment; does it put a lot of pressure on your forces to have so much responsibility riding on their shoulders? Can you talk about the training and cross-training they receive?

A: All of our officers and most of our enlisted personnel are members of the IDC and it gives us a great opportunity to expand our knowledge; adding breadth and depth to our mastery of the information disciplines. Almost all of our officers are Information Professionals (restricted line, limited duty officers and warrant officers), with the exception of one supply officer and one electronics maintenance officer. Within the IDC, the IPs have a rigorous training program for working on their qualifications and to attend local schools like the Joint C4I Staff Officer and Operations Course at the Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC).

We also work to cross-train them in other IDC discipline areas, for example, we try to get as many of them as we can through the Joint Information Operations Planners Course at the JFSC to get them some cross IDC discipline exposure, and they must complete their Information Dominance Warfare Officer qualification if they don't have it prior to their assignment here. We open up our IP qualification training to all IP officers in the Hampton Roads area and have many who attend our weekly training sessions at NCTAMS LANT.

On the enlisted side, we have an aggressive program in place to get our folks Cyber Security Workforce (formerly known as Information Assurance Workforce) qualified. We offer classes here in Security Plus, Network Plus, and other Microsoft certifications, as well as running an Information Assurance Personnel Qualification Standard weeklong boot camp. We open these courses up to the fleet as well to fill seats we have open in each convening course. This certification along with the 2791/2790 conversion training is very important to keep our Sailors competitive in a time when Perform to Serve and other force shaping mechanisms will reduce opportunity to stay Navy.

Additionally, my Command Master Chief David Byrd runs a fantastic Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare qualification program and is making great progress in getting our IDC enlisted folks this important career milestone accomplished while at the command.

The pressure is really on both the officer and enlisted to keep current in this rapidly changing technologically dependent environment. New threats and challenges emerge daily, and we must create well-trained, adaptive, responsive thinkers to meet those and ensure the integrity of our networks and communications.

It's not enough just to train the officer and enlisted workforce on the technology specifics, we need to continue to train them to be operationally savvy, agile, innovative thinkers who keep an eye on new technology and look for potential military uses of it or threats it could pose.

Q: I noticed that you really push training and encourage junior officers and enlisted to think critically, share information and to write for defense journals. Can you talk about how you think this strategy improves personnel readiness and professional development?

A: I'm a big believer in sharing and publishing your ideas--just get the idea out there and someone else will take it and make it even better; frankly, that is the best thing for the Navy. I encourage them to write about something they are passionate about, good or bad, but to always make a recommendation on what they think the outcome or solution should be.

I also want to teach them to think about their idea in the context of the enterprise and how the solution proposed can solve the problem once and solve it for many. Or to look at the future and make recommendations on problems that operators may not even know they have yet.

It's important to note that the recommendation doesn't have to be technology based, it could be a changed process or organizational structure by members of the IDC who are technology savvy [and] can see potential military solutions with emerging technology that others may not.

I've heard people say, "Well, he is really smart, he can poke holes in any theory." I don't consider that smart I consider the person who makes the recommendations on a better way to do business and collaborating with shipmates to make that idea even stronger more valuable to the Navy. That's the person I want to work with. Building agile, strategic thinkers helps the person personally and the Navy as a whole.


The mission of NCTAMS LANT is to provide secure and reliable, classified and unclassified, voice, messaging, video and data, telecommunications to surface, subsurface, air and ground forces in support of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) for real-world operations and exercises and to U.S. Naval, Joint and Coalition operating forces worldwide.


Traditionally, every Navy activity adopts a command emblem for quick visual recognition. Possibly the most widely recognized and endearing emblem is NCTAMS LANT's "OSCAR." Oscar the Octopus depicts the dynamic environment of a Navy communicator.

In 1947, at the request of Navy Cmdr. W. A. Swanston, the Fifth Naval District Communication Officer, Walt Disney's artists conceived the design. Oscar was adopted as the command emblem for NCTAMS LANT's predecessor activity, the U.S. Navy Communication Station Norfolk, upon its establishment Nov. 7, 1950.


This insignia is intended to humorously convey the normal plight of a Navy communicator. When it was designed during the World War II era, Oscar's equipment was "state-of-the-art," allowing a proficient Morse code operator to send 35 words per minute. While our communications technology and equipment have drastically changed, Oscar's expression still conveys NCTAMS LANT's philosophy of going the extra mile to provide its customers with the latest and best communications technology and services. NCTAMS LANT personnel have come to feel a special attachment to Oscar over the years and display the emblem proudly.

The original 2-inch by 3-inch Disney artwork is displayed in NCTAMS LANT's quarterdeck area, and replicated throughout the world by current and former Navy communicators.
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Article Type:Interview
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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