Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Secretary of the Navy prepared remarks at Association of Old Crows’ 60th Annual International Symposium

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro Association of Old Crows’ 60th Annual International Symposium As Prepared Remarks Dec. 12, 2023

"Good morning, everyone! Thank you, Captain Hinkley, for the introduction, and for inviting me to be a part of the Association of Old Crows’ 60th Annual International Symposium.

"I have a warm spot in my heart for the Old Crows.

"What many of you also might not know is that Brian and I are both members of the United States Naval Academy’s Great Class of 1983 and served together on active duty for 22 years after our graduation.

"From his time in the air as an electronics countermeasures officer, participating in combat operations over Libya, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Afghanistan, to on the ground as the commander of Joint CREW Composite Squadron 1 in Iraq countering the IED threat, Brian’s 27 years of active duty service are a testament not only to his loyal devotion to our nation but to the importance we place in being able to operate across the electromagnetic spectrum.

"And as we continue on throughout the 21st century—an era defined by strategic competition and the acceleration of technology at a rapid pace—it is imperative that we—our naval services, our Joint Force, and indeed our Nation—recognize that operations in the electromagnetic spectrum can be just as decisive as actions taken on, above, or below the ocean’s surface.

"Our National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy put forth by President Biden and Secretary of Defense Austin, respectively, outline the challenges we face as a nation and as a military, alongside our international allies and partners, and that list is not short.

"The world around us is changing at a rapid pace, with an air of uncertainty as to what the future holds. In Europe, we continue to bear witness to Russia’s unprovoked invasion in Ukraine, violating their territorial and national sovereignty. This conflict has pushed us into a new era of war, utilizing large quantities of unmanned aerial systems that are capable of delivering kinetic effects against an opposing force.

"In response, we have seen a race to develop and field electronic warfare systems that are capable of defending against this threat from the sky and space.

"What’s more, early in Russia’s invasion, we saw them leverage their electronic warfare capabilities in an effort to deny the Ukrainians use of Starlink—an episode that demonstrated the resiliency of a commercial company to counter a nation-state’s actions directed at disrupting access to space-based resources.

"For the U.S. and our NATO allies, the conflict in Ukraine reinforces the emphasis we place on developing and maintaining a ready, interoperable combat power that is capable of fighting in contested environments, including the electromagnetic spectrum.

"In the Middle East, we continue to see the spillover of Hamas’s attacks against Israel on October 7th—including continued attacks against American personnel stationed throughout the region and the targeting of commercial shipping—either by piracy or missiles launched by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

"Over the past two months, USS Thomas Hudner and USS Carney have intercepted missiles and drones launched from Yemen towards Israel, with interceptions queued and supported by our systems that leverage the electromagnetic spectrum for early warning, identification, and tracking.

"And in the Indo-Pacific, the People’s Republic of China remains the pacing challenge for our Department of Defense.

"Beyond the rapid modernization of its conventional forces, the People’s Liberation Army is also pursuing a strategy to develop, test, field, and integrate space, counter-space, cyber, electronic, and information warfare capabilities, posing potential challenges to how we operate across the spectrum.

"As discussed in the Department of Defense’s “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” report published this time last year, the PRC’s electronic warfare strategy emphasizes the suppression, degradation, or deception of enemy electronic equipment across the entire continuum of conflict.

"Their EW-focused units routinely train to conduct jamming and anti-jamming activities against communications and RADAR systems, as well as GPS during force-on-force exercises.

"Given the focus and emphasis that nations around the globe are putting on developing capabilities and technologies to enable their militaries to successfully maneuver across the E-M spectrum, it is imperative that we, in concert with our allies and partners, remain committed to prioritizing our warfighters’ freedom of action and ability to achieve spectrum superiority.

"In the Department of the Navy, we utilize the electromagnetic spectrum across all domains for a number of operations—from how we communicate, how we navigate, how we fight, and most importantly, how we keep our Sailors and Marines safe.

"We recognize that electromagnetic spectrum operations, in particular electronic warfare, with any potential or actual adversary, is a constant series of moves and countermoves to develop strategic, operational, and tactical advantages in the battlespace.

"Every day, our Sailors, Marines, and civilians focused on our electromagnetic posture—from policy, research, development, testing, evaluating, and fielding of new capabilities, and operations—are working to improve and develop our warfighting advantages across the EMS.

"Our Department’s actions and investments in the electromagnetic spectrum are closely aligned to our three enduring priorities that I outlined at the beginning of my tenure as the 78th Secretary of the Navy.

"They are—Strengthening Maritime Dominance, Building a Culture of Warfighting Excellence, and Enhancing Strategic Partnerships.

"We continue making significant investments through several acquisition programs to ensure our Sailors and Marines have the capabilities they require to successfully deliver effects in the electromagnetic spectrum.

"In aviation, we are focusing on the development and deployment of game-changing upgrades to our EA-18G Growler fleet—the world’s premier electronic attack platform.

"The Growlers play a critical role in jamming RADAR and communication signals of adversary forces, hindering their ability to detect, track, and target U.S. and allied platforms and personnel.

"In coordination with industry, the Growler Capability Modification program is underway, representing the first major upgrade to the capabilities of this key aircraft in 15 years, and will keep our Growlers tactically relevant well into the next decade.

"Major improvements under the GCM include the integration of advanced datalinks and the Next Generation Jammer—a joint cooperative program between the U.S. and Australia that allows for the sharing of technologies that further the airborne electronic capabilities of both our Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.

"At sea, we are upgrading our surface fleet’s EW posture through the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP). Through SEWIP’s three blocks, we are providing our Sailors with enhanced anti-ship missile defense, counter-targeting, counter-surveillance, electronic support, and electronic attack capabilities provided by the AN/SLQ-32 — a system that I came to fully appreciate during my two decades as a Surface Warfare Officer.

"In the Marine Corps, we are aligning our program investments in EW capabilities to support their transformational Force Design initiative.

"As Lieutenant General Glavy highlighted yesterday, the Marine Corps is our Nation’s Stand-In Force, and we are developing the systems and platforms necessary to ensure our Marines are capable, lethal, and agile in a distributed environment.

"From the Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar—GATOR—to the F-35B Lightning II, these platforms enable our Marines to sense our adversaries and share information across the Joint Force, providing enhanced battlespace awareness to inform commanders’ decisions.

"We also remain focused on developing countermeasures to keep our Sailors and Marines safe. One example is the Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure system—a Marine Corps Program of Record leveraging technology developed by our Office of Naval Research—that provides an inexhaustible infrared countermeasure capability to our Navy and Marine Corps rotary aircraft and allows our aircrews to detect and evade hostile fire.

"While these are just a few of the many acquisitions programs we have focused on EW and EMS operations, we recognize that these projects take time to develop, test, adopt, and field.

"As part of our Department’s aim to “innovate at the speed of relevancy,” several recently established organizations—including the Naval Innovation Center, Marine Innovation Unit, Navy Disruptive Capabilities Office, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s Rapid Capabilities Office, and NavalX—all of which complement our already established naval innovation ecosystem, are engaging with industry to find commercial solutions to our Fleet and our Force’s critical capability gaps, including those in the electromagnetic spectrum.

"Last month, we engaged with members of industry during our 3rd Annual Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Virtual Tools Symposium, hosted by the DON Chief Information Officer Spectrum team. During this three-day event, over 200 participants from the federal government, industry, and academia came together to observe a variety of spectrum analysis and management tools, all designed to accommodate an increasingly shared EMS environment.

"To the members of industry in the audience today, I ask that as you develop new technologies and capabilities, you consider what their potential naval applications are—and reach out to one of the organizations or attend our industry-focused events to see if there is an opportunity for you to contribute to bolstering our Department’s posture in the electromagnetic spectrum, directly supporting our deployed Sailors and Marines.

"I also ask that you help us recruit more small businesses into our Naval marketplace, as they bring a wealth of talent, technologies, and services that are crucial to advancing the warfighting capabilities of our maritime services.

"To operate these advanced platforms and systems, and to arm our Sailors and Marines with the skills necessary to be effective electromagnetic spectrum operators, we are laser-focused on providing the right training to develop and advance the EMS workforce our Department needs, both at sea and ashore.

"At the Fleet and Force level, we are constantly evaluating our courses of instruction and training environments for our personnel, ensuring these efforts accurately reflect the global threat environment.

"One effort we are particularly proud of is the Information Warfare Community’s Weapons and Tactics Instructor program, led by the Naval Information Warfighting Development Center.

"To date, NIWDC has produced 131 W-T-Is focused on command, control, and cyberspace operations as well as electronic warfare, with patch-wearers throughout the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

"Our WTIs serve as one of our primary mechanisms in achieving superiority in the EMS—supporting exercises, developing doctrine, and bridging the gap between the technical and tactical sides of warfighting development and operations.

"In the Marine Corps, the Program Manager for Training Systems is in the process of creating an Electronic Warfare Ground Instrumented Range. This effort will provide our Marines with realistic training in an RFjammed and GPS-spoofed training environment, enhancing their ability to fight when their access to the electromagnetic spectrum is degraded or denied.

"We are also focused on recruiting our next generation of scientists and researchers. Through our Office of Naval Research, we are leveraging grants, scholarships, apprenticeships, and internships to recruit and retain talented researchers and scientists from across our nation to support our basic science and technology research efforts, including fields of study relevant to developing our next generation of capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum.

"Beyond developing our capabilities to operate across the electromagnetic spectrum and providing training to our personnel, we are working closely with several international allies and partners around the world.

"Pillar II of the AUKUS partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States is focused on the co-development of advanced capabilities across several focus areas, including cyber capabilities to protect critical communications and operations systems and working together to share tools, techniques, and technologies that will enable our three nations to operate together in contested and degraded electromagnetic spectrum environments.

"As part of this commitment to co-developing EW-focused capabilities, last week Secretary of Defense Austin, alongside Australian and British defense representatives, announced the launch of the first trilateral innovation prize challenge during their visit to Defense Innovation Unit, which is set to begin in early 2024 with a focus on electronic warfare.

"This prize challenge builds on a long-standing relationship between our nations, with decades of successful joint program developments.

"One maritime-focused success story of our defense partnership is Nulka—our anti-ship cruise missile EW decoy.

"Based on a common threat and desire to share costs, we came together in 1986 to develop this capability to defend both of our fleets, with the U.S. responsible for payload development, while Australia was responsible for flight vehicle and initial launch system development, vehicle/payload integration, and common elements of the launch control software.

"This collaborative effort continues today, and we are pleased that, through the recently renewed memorandum of understanding, our partnership on Nulka will continue through 2037.

"Beyond international partnerships on capability and technology development, we are engaging with several nations at international forums regarding spectrum governance and management.

"As we gather here today, DON representatives are attending the International Telecommunications Union World Radiocommunication Conference in Dubai, representing our equities at a forum where members are deciding on critical issues on international spectrum use that directly affect our national and international operations.

"We are committed to working with our international partners to ensure that the electromagnetic spectrum is allocated in a manner that allows for industry innovation and commercial use while preserving our ability to support our national security objectives.

"With the rapid pace of technological change, we find ourselves sharing key parts of spectrum bandwidth with civil and commercial users, causing congestion in the electromagnetic spectrum and constraining our use.

"To better manage our nation’s approach to spectrum management, last month President Biden released our National Spectrum Strategy, outlining further steps to strengthen interagency coordination, promote innovation, and ensure efficient spectrum use.

"This strategy rightly recognizes that the electromagnetic spectrum is a national resource that is essential to our everyday life, but also needs careful management to sustain American innovation and security.

"As a stakeholder in the spectrum, we are taking several steps to support the President’s strategy to ensure our DON and DOD equities and concerns are well-represented.

"Our department’s Chief Information Officer, Ms. Jane Rathbun, recently convened a DON Senior Spectrum Leadership Summit, bringing together senior representatives from the Navy and Marine Corps to establish an ongoing partnership to identify future DON spectrum requirements.

"This will allow us to determine how best to leverage technology advances that will enhance our capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum and enable improved sharing of this scarce resource—while also protecting bandwidths critical to our operations.

"One of the outcomes of that summit was the establishment of a task force to increase coordination across our naval services—including the Coast Guard—in achieving those goals and communicating our requirements jointly and effectively.

"Additionally, we are working towards establishing a department-wide electromagnetic spectrum governance structure that will allow for effective oversight of our resources and requirements, enhancing our ability to advocate for our positions in support of the President’s guidance for spectrum sharing.

"The electromagnetic spectrum is indeed a critical resource, with over 95% U.S. spectrum shared by government and commercial users.

"Our current and future multi-domain operations depend on our ability to maintain superiority within the EMS environment, and we are committed to pursuing policies, acquisition programs, recruiting and training initiatives, and international partnerships and programs that will provide our Sailors and Marines with the capabilities and skillsets required to defend our nation.

"Again, it is a pleasure to be here with you this morning. Thank you all for your advocacy and commitment to advancing our collective interests in the electromagnetic spectrum."

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