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Article by David Larter, Navy Times, 13 JAN 2016, reporting on Surface Navy Association keynote presentation. Excerpt follows:

The US Navy in Europe is going dark.

The four destroyers in Rota, Spain, and ships operating in 6th Fleet are switching off their radars and sensors to operate with more stealth and train for fighting cyber and electronic attacks, said the Navy's top officer in Europe.

"We need to change the culture in the surface Navy," said Adm. Mark Ferguson, head of Naval Forces Europe and a career surface warfare officer. "As I tell the [commanding officers] in Rota all the time, it's not a decision of what you turn off anymore, it's a decision of why you are turning something on. Why are turning that radar on? ... It has spurred tremendous creativity."

Ferguson told the crowd at the 2016 Surface Navy Association's national symposium last week that forces in Europe are operating almost constantly in some degree of emissions control, turning off radars and reducing communications to prevent jamming and to better mask their location and profile. That practice was routine during the Cold War and is returning as the US faces a newly aggressive Russian military.

"We're having to think about how are we going to get information to the ship if the satellite isn't there, if GPS is down — and we are running exercises where we take those systems away," Ferguson said. "We need to be able to execute the [ballistic missile defense] mission and fight through a network or cyber attack."

Transcribed from video, minutes 19:30-21:20 in the talk:

"... The second piece that I talk about in this asymmetric environment is: we have to change the culture of the surface force.  I tell the COs at Rota that when you get under way, it's not a decision of what you turn off anymore when you get to sea, it's a decision of why you are turning something on.  Why do you have to have that radar?  Why do you have to have... Because in the environment we're in - the days of you get a cyberattack against the network - you can't shut down the network, because you have a mission to do in ballistic missile defense.  You have to execute the mission.  So maybe we isolate the rest of the GIG and we have to figure out how to fight through.  So it has spurred tremendous creativity.

For the folks in the first couple of rows who remember this in the old days...  The COs very much like getting mission orders, they like not having the chat rooms turned on to headquarters, they like being able to have the permission to - you know.  How do I get information to the ship when the satellite may not be there, when GPS may be jammed for example.  How do we start to work in that environment?  We are running exercises taking those capabilities away, and now investing in other systems that help us in the PK to operate in close to shore against advanced cruise missiles, to be able to execute the BMD mission, and be able to fight through the cyber or the network attack. 

This is the area when I look at the asymmetric piece that we have to be ready to move into.  It will be more unmanned, it will be more distributed, it will be more cyber focused as we go forward.  The ship has understand that it has to maneuver in this space. Weaving the asymmetric into our day-to-day operations is a big thrust of our operations in Europe. The young generation loves it and they're having a great time with it, and coming up with some really marvelous ideas."

ADM Mark Ferguson 

 

See the NavyTimes.com article online, and the full presentation video by Admiral Ferguson online with additional flag presentations at Navy Live.

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