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Rear Adm. Timothy C. Gallaudet talks METOC and information dominance: commander, naval meteorology and oceanography command.

Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, part of the Navy's Information Dominance Corps, is an Echelon III command reporting to U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Naval Oceanography is the Navy's physical maritime battlespace authority, a critical partner across the full range of Department of Defense operations, delivering decision superiority, operational effectiveness and safety to our operational forces.

Rear Adm. Gallaudet responded to CHIPS questions in writing the end of September.

Q: The aerographer's mate rating celebrated 90 years of weather forecasting this year. Some have called them the unsung heroes of the Navy. Can you talk about what they do and why it is so important to the Navy?

A: The U.S. Navy is a more safe and effective fighting force because of aerographer's mates or AGs--and I know this to be a fact from my firsthand experiences with AGs in the Persian Gulf, Western Pacific, and Mediterranean, Arabian, Yellow and Red Seas.

Certainly, AGs are the backbone of the operational Navy oceanography team. They play a vital role in all of the Navy's traditional warfare areas, as well as the new realm of Information Dominance.

Ninety years ago, they were created to support naval aviation which was then in its infancy. And while AGs still forecast the weather for flight operations, their skills now also include hydrography, oceanography, unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) operation and sonar data processing.

They have become the Navy's accepted experts in the operation of UUVs, which they use extensively in mine warfare operations and hydrography, or, bottom mapping for access routes and charting.

AGs, as a group, are smart and technologically adept. They have always been willing to accept new and additional duties--whatever they have been asked to do. That's why their job has expanded so much--because they were willing and able to learn new things and take on new responsibilities.

As part of the Information Dominance Corps, AGs enhance battle-space awareness by providing the characterization, forecast and impacts of the environment. They also support safety of navigation, the Navy's humanitarian aid/disaster relief efforts and safety at sea.

Here's a recent example. A few weeks ago, two AGs from Fleet Weather Center Norfolk's Strike Group Oceanography Team aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) were instrumental in the at-sea rescue of a USS New York (LPD 21) Sailor. Upon receiving the report, that the Sailor had failed to report for muster and that a search and rescue effort (SAR) was underway, the assistant forecast duty officer collected accurate observed winds, seas and current measurements for the forecast duty officer, who put this information, along with the ship's previous course and speed, into the environmental models and decision aid tools, WEBSAR and Geophysics Fleet Mission Program Library (GFMPL). Her knowledge of the environment allowed her to accurately predict the Sailor's position to within 1,200 yards. This information was disseminated to all rescue ships and personnel in the area; the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-46) helicopter located the Sailor who was recovered by their SAR swimmer shortly thereafter. That's very impressive given that an at-sea rescue is like looking for a needle in a very large haystack. Both of these AGs received extremely well-deserved Navy Achievement Medals for their stellar forecasting efforts.

Q: Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy and Director for Space and Maritime Domain Awareness Rear Adm. Jonathan White has said that the reliability of five-day forecasts is a given and that 10-day forecasts will be just as accurate with newer technologies. Can you talk about the newer technologies that have increased the accuracy of weather forecasts?

A: Predictive weather and ocean forecasts provided by the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command are essential pieces of physical battlespace awareness. These forecasts and the operational recommendations based on them always need to be faster, more accurate and longer-range to affect operations within an adversary's decision cycle.

Supercomputing advances really opened the door to greater modeling capabilities and enabled a level of environmental forecasting that we have never been able to do before.

The Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Center, or Navy DSRC, at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, has always been one of the most powerful supercomputing centers within DoD. In 2012, we received three new systems that increased the center's supercomputing processing capability by fourfold. Two new Cray XC30s installed just this year have raised the computer power to 2,556 teraflops. The upgrade provides for more robust high-resolution modeling and global-scale oceanography and meteorology in support of Navy and DoD operations worldwide.

In 2012 we began running the world's first truly operational global ocean model--the Hybrid Coordinate Model or HYCOM. We've also been able to operate a new weather forecast model, Navy Global Environmental Model (NAVGEM) which replaced the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System or NOGAPS, the former gold standard of Navy weather forecasting models. Ocean and atmospheric modeling efforts also advanced through the fully-coupled Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System or COAMPS and the COAMPS Tropical Cyclone (COAMPS-TC) that can produce forecasts in time scales from hourly to seasonal. These are essential to creating a common operational picture for operational planners and decision makers.

Q: What do you see as the next wave of technology advances in meteorology and oceanography?

A: Autonomous sensing technology will be one of the significant future technologies, supporting both operational oceanography and direct support to the warfighter. The oceanography community has long been a leader in using and developing this technology. Developments in autonomous vehicles (AUVs) offer new possibilities for both enhancing our undersea capabilities and expanding our undersea force's capacity to accomplish current and future missions. The contributions and new missions outlined in this operating concept will likely increase demand for undersea forces, while today's submarine inventory is already insufficient to meet all mission and presence demands. This capacity shortfall can be mitigated through the development of unmanned vehicles, sensors and weapons in conjunction with an advanced sustaining undersea infrastructure.

Unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) have proven the ability to perform dull, dangerous, dirty jobs such as routine environmental surveys. As an example, the Naval Oceanographic Office's (NAVOCEANO) use of the Slocum buoyancy gliders, provided through the Littoral Battlespace Sensing Program of Record, is currently providing a significant increase in the number of ocean profiles of temperature and salinity in areas of high Navy interest. The higher temporal and spatial resolution of these profiles significantly increases the accuracy of ocean models use to support oceanographic and meteorological forecasts.

In addition, UUVs will soon be able to take on many missions that will support the joint force and national security in areas that are too risky for manned platforms because of the threat or shallow water depths. A family of relatively low-cost UUVs of varying size and capability will be able to take on some of the workload of today's submarine force, freeing them to focus on missions requiring the larger sensor and weapons payload of a manned platform. Only by using unmanned undersea systems can the U.S. maintain its dominance in the undersea domain while simultaneously reducing submarine force structure.

UUVs potentially offer significant operational flexibility to the force commander. UUVs can be delivered to and recovered from their operating areas by aircraft, combatant ships, Military Sealift Command ships, submarines, or ships of opportunity. As advancements are made in power sources that will extend range and speed, UUVs can be launched and recovered from friendly land areas. Their most important contribution to joint warfighting, however, is the impact their use has on the commander's risk calculus. Because they cost less and are unmanned, UUVs are ideal for taking on missions with highest risk.

Unmanned undersea systems (UUS) encompass not only untethered, mobile UUVs but also include other types of platforms including distributed netted systems (DNS). These netted sensor systems may be mobile or fixed, or a mixture of fixed and mobile nodes. The sensors themselves are not limited to the undersea domain: while acoustic sensing of both surface and undersea platforms is an obvious application, tethered sensors can be deployed from the sea bed to conduct above-water ISR as well. Similarly, the network itself may be physically connecting cabling, or a communications architecture using acoustic and/or radio frequency signals. Future employment of UUS will likely involve both DNS and UUVs and could include autonomous interaction between them.

Development of advanced communications pathways will allow UUSs to contribute to the cross-domain fight directly, communicating with surface, air and space platforms. The potential utility of UUSs for cross-domain warfighting are just beginning to be realized as their ability to exert novel effects and take on risks unacceptable to manned platforms are tapped. The development of UUSs is a critical component of the expanded use of the undersea domain in joint cross-domain warfighting.

Similar capability will be applied in the air and electromagnetic spectrum domains as well, through the development of meteorological parameter sensing modules deployed on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These sensing systems will be able to feed the overall characterization of the physical battle space in support of dominance in the air and electromagnetic spectrum domains.

Q. Does your command employ other new technology beyond used in oceanography and/or atmospheric science?

A: Yes. The precise time and astrometry functions of the U.S. Naval Observatory, or NAVOBSY, are vital in targeting, navigation and communications. On an operational level, precise time and astrometry can mean the difference between hitting the targeted building and hitting a building next door or in the next block.

The observatory, originally established to give Navy ships a time reference point for navigation, has grown with science and technology and become an asset for the nation as well as the Navy. NAVOBSY operates and maintains atomic clocks that serve as the basis for the U.S. time standard and provides measurements of planets and stars, both critical for targeting and navigation.

Within the past year, the observatory operationalized four Navy Rubidium Fountain Clocks that feed the master clock. Additionally, NAVOBSY has updated the Earth Orientation Program by the operationalization of the electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (e-VBLI) correlation capability.

Q: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert has stressed the operational importance of the Navy's ability to maneuver freely in the electromagnetic spectrum. Can adverse weather conditions have an impact on use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are there any techniques or procedures that can minimize weather effects?

A: Atmospheric conditions and parameters have a major impact on performance of electromagnetic energy across the entire electro-magnetic spectrum (EMS). Ability to evaluate and predict the atmospheric variables and atmospheric state that cause anomalous propagation, refraction, attenuation, absorption and scattering of EM energy enables operational commanders and decision makers to make the atmosphere work for rather than against them. In the maritime domain, additional parameters such as the evaporative duct height and sea state not found over terrain further impact performance of EM energy. Although most of the day-to-day weather occurs in the troposphere, portions of the EMS are actually impacted by the ionosphere and solar activity introducing more parameters and variables that must be considered in ability to maneuver freely in the EMS.

Weather and sea conditions constantly impact the ability to maneuver. If these meteorology and oceanography conditions are unsafe for personnel, ships, aircraft and submarines to operate, say in a typhoon/hurricane, the units' ability to maneuver freely in the electromagnetic spectrum also likely will be impacted.

Certain techniques and procedures can minimize weather effects on the EMS. Two examples include: (1) changing the operating frequencies and sensor settings; and (2) positioning sensors or platforms to take advantage of EM propagation paths.

Q: What are your priorities as commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command?

A: My first priority--in everything we do--is to our warfighting and readiness missions. Naval Oceanography will always provide unmatched environmental information to the warfighter that yields better decisions made faster than the adversary. Particularly during this time of declining resources and increasing threats to national security, we must ensure continued operational excellence for all Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command missions.

Our military and civilian workforce is our true capital resource. As "team captain," I'm committed to investing the time to educate and advance our people while still meeting our mission requirements. Within the next year, I intend to closely monitor the development and execution of an aerographer's mate master's level training curriculum. I also intend to ensure increased civilian professional development opportunities.

With the recent establishment of the Navy Information Dominance Force (NAVIDFOR) Type Command (TYCOM), supporting the success of the new organization and a smooth transition of TYCOM responsibilities to that organization is another top priority and, again, one where Naval Oceanography brings a lot of skill sets that can benefit the entire team. U.S. Fleet Forces recognizes Naval Oceanography as a leader--and a role model--for information technology, information assurance, financial management, and other roles and we will ensure this is shared with NAVIDFOR. With the phased transfer of TYCOM responsibilities to NAVIDFOR, my focus will be on my operational roles and functions of the recently designated Commander Task Group 80.7 and the worldwide operational impact of my assigned forces.

I touched on innovation in questions two and three, but it bears repeating: In this field, there's always room to apply new ideas and develop new products and processes. The Naval Oceanography community led the way in recognizing the potential of unmanned systems and using this flexible and comparatively less expensive technology to augment our manned survey fleet. We will continue being visionaries. In the rapidly changing battlespace, successful execution of our operational oceanography mission depends on it!

I believe we're headed in the right direction with current initiatives like: developing expertise in electromagnetic maneuver warfare, leveraging our high performance computing capabilities to fuse the physical environment with other battlespace awareness information, and developing a battlespace awareness sensing plan that ensures the Navy leverages our long history of UAV operations.

For decades, cooperative partnerships with the DoD and U.S. government, as well as those within science, academia and industry, have allowed Naval Oceanography to maximize our resources. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which we operate with the Air Force, and the National/Naval Ice Center, which we operate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Coast Guard, are examples that have been going strong for more than 50 years. We will expand and/or reinforce cooperative partnerships. We're already leading the development of a national plan for global modeling, and we've recently begun talks with U.S. Air Force on partnering to strengthen our weather product delivery. Successful strategic partnerships will ensure we continue to make the best of our resources.

By CHIPS Magazine--October-December 2014

TAGS: Cybersecurity, NEN, Spectrum, Telecommunications, Wireless, Workforce
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