By Vice Adm. Phil Cullom
Deputy chief of naval operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics

Energy Action Month 2016 closes out today. As it ends, I ask our warriors around the Navy to treat today as the beginning of next year’s journey toward achieving a more secure energy future.

During operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, our adversaries frequently targeted the Achilles’ heel of our logistics chain – the convoys that brought massive amounts of fuel and other supplies to resupply the front lines. During these conflicts, we learned some hard lessons. We’re learning from them as we tackle ways to reduce the amount of liquid fuel used by deployed forces. It’s about using less fuel to gain more enduring combat capability. Reducing the number of convoys required to accomplish the mission means less exposure to attacks and less operational threats to our personnel. These are at the core of WHY we have pursued energy efficiencies and that effort transcends every military operational landscape – on land, at sea and in the air.

FALLUJA, Iraq (April 6, 2004) - The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seventy Four (NMCB-74), Tactical Movement Team (TMT), escorts a construction crew convoy through Falluja, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric Powell/Released)
FALLUJA, Iraq (April 6, 2004) – The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seventy Four (NMCB-74), Tactical Movement Team (TMT), escorts a construction crew convoy through Falluja, Iraq. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric Powell/Released)

 

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 26, 2016) Ensign Frances Gale, the conning officer, checks forward clearance as the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) breaks away from the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) while conducting a replenishment-at-sea during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (July 26, 2016) Ensign Frances Gale, the conning officer, checks forward clearance as the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) breaks away from the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) while conducting a replenishment-at-sea during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder/Released)

For our sea services, refueling ships, aircraft or tactical vehicles is a key capability essential to persistent presence worldwide. We do it extraordinarily well but, as we know, the refueling process impacts our maneuverability, agility and logistics at sea. If platforms can travel farther on a gallon of fuel or remain longer on station in a mission-ready posture without refueling as frequently, we enhance our persistent combat capability and that ultimately saves lives. The DON’s commitment to energy has always been on the cutting edge.

You can take great pride in the accomplishments of our worldwide deployment of the 2016 Great Green Fleet that focused on getting more fight with less fuel. The number of units involved in these efforts in every theater is impressive; you’ve pushed the envelope in experimenting with technology, operational concepts, and alternative sources afloat and ashore that better sustain our operations in every way.

But we can’t stop there. We have an obligation to those who have gone before us to dedicate and challenge ourselves to ensuring our adversaries never exploit energy to achieve an advantage or use it against us. We should all remember a line from a poem written after World War I by Archibald MacLeish, “We leave you our deaths, give them their meaning.” The loss of life and sacrifices we suffered in our most recent conflicts can’t be in vain. The choices we make today and in the future can have life and death consequences for our Sailors who stand the watch every day. Our energy management actions impact operational risks for the Navy and our nation. We need to take these lessons to heart for the next fight, wherever that may occur, and in whatever environment.

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)
ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

This is not about saving fuel or saving money; if it does, that’s an extra benefit that we must reinvest. In the end, this is ALL about our combat capability and what it means to you, our warfighters. Our goal is to extend time on station and ensure we are where it matters, when it matters. History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. During World War II, Fleet Admiral Ernest King said “oil is ammunition” to emphasize the connection between energy, logistics and warfighting. It remains so today and with the advent of energy weapons envisioned in the coming decades it will literally be true. We won’t need rocket motors, powder casings or even explosive warheads. Electricity and energy itself will take the place of all three. In the meantime, all of us must positively disrupt the energy future for our entire naval enterprise. We must get more combat capability out of every gallon, Btu and kilowatt hour. Simply put, power yields more presence. Our access to and use of energy must continue to be secure, reliable and resilient. As we ‘net the Navy’ together for the future, we must ensure all parts of the net are secure to support our ships, submarines and aircraft. To get this right across the continuum of land and sea, we must realize the shore is an integral part of this equation since it serves as the backbone from which our forces fly, sail, submerge and communicate. We must therefore guard against vulnerabilities throughout our entire netted kill chain.

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to support a variety of maritime missions. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASSCO/Released)
SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to support a variety of maritime missions. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASSCO/Released)

Each of us has a role to play, regardless of warfare specialty or whether we’re Sailors or Navy civilians because we’re all part of one Navy team. As we continue to incorporate new and innovative energy technologies and efficiency practices across our operational and shore platforms, now and into the future, the stakes are too high not to get it right. Looking across all Navy communities, we must recognize that Energy Action Month does not end October 31. Today, I challenge you to think about the future and do your part in this important endeavor to honor and to give meaning to the lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Past and future Sailors deserve nothing less than our full commitment.

Leadership teams have the ability to shape and drive their organization when they can be effective but with individuals coming from many different backgrounds and roles, challenges are bound to arise. Differing opinions lead to conflict, distrust amongst team members, ineffective communication techniques, lack of accountability, and destructive criticism all potentially result in setting your team up for failure. In order to address these potential pitfalls, you need to identify them first. Here’s 5 common leadership pitfalls and how to avoid them:

1. A Lack of Trust

Trust is a key component of any leadership team. Without trust, your leadership team is much more likely to fail. A significant level of trust brings improved relationships, performance, and success.

When there is distrust amongst the leadership team in your organization, communication and processes become inefficient. Having trust within a team means individuals demonstrating consistency with their verbal and nonverbal communication, caring about one another’s welfare and interests, and respecting and valuing one another’s skills and knowledge that are being brought to the team.

In order to build trust within a team, all members need to commit to fostering open communication that is reliable and consistent, respecting one another, showing confidence in one another, and understanding expectations.

2. Team Communication is Ineffective

“Different strokes for different folks.” Just like many things in life and business, this rings true for communication. Different team members are going to have various communication styles, which can be a good thing when navigated properly.

In order to understand the team dynamics, you have to first be familiar with your own communication style. It’s important to increase your self-knowledge or self-awareness so that you are better able to understand the communication styles of your fellow team members.

Have all team members take DiSC assessments which provide a profile to help you increase self-understanding, improve relationships, affirm your natural tendencies, adapt behavior to relate to people, and build better teams.

3. Conflict Goes Without Resolution

The power of collaboration is tremendous. But what is even more tremendous is the power given to conflict when not resolved. It’s also important to note that not all conflict is bad. Functional conflict can be a good thing when used positively and constructively. Dysfunctional conflict prevents teams from getting things done and achieving their goals. Conflict without resolution sets the team up to be contentious, ineffective, and overall unhealthy. It is extremely important for teams to learn how to deal with and manage conflict.

You can more easily identify the source of a conflict when you are knowledgeable about what causes it. Conflict can be caused by differing opinions on:

  • Values, beliefs, attitudes, or opinions
  • Policies and procedures
  • Expectations, goals, or responsibilities
  • Information needs
  • Personality, social style, or work style
  • Someone else’s “bad” behavior

There are a variety of conflict management and resolution strategies that you can use when approaching your team but the most important thing to remember is that it starts with proper communication.

When communicating about conflict it is important to listen actively, clarify for understanding, validate the concerns of other individuals, share your viewpoint clearly and assertively, check for understanding, and maintain control.

4. No Accountability

Leadership teams expect accountability out of their employees but are they holding themselves accountable as well? Increased accountability definitely has its advantages.

According to The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), positive results of accountability include:

  • Improved performance
  • More employee participation and involvement
  • Increased feelings of competency
  • Increased employee commitment to work
  • More creativity and innovation
  • Higher employee morale and satisfaction with work

These are things leaders strive to pull out of the teams they manage but they should also be focusing on applying accountability to the leadership team itself. To increase the sense of accountability within a team, it is important to have clear defined roles and individual ownership. Accountability can also be fostered through freedom and support, expectation of evaluation, and improvement.

If a task is not completed, a budget is exceeded, or a key metric is missed, that doesn’t mean we automatically seek punishment. It just means that we ask the accountable person for an explanation of the reason so the team can better find a solution.

Here are some of the questions you should be asking within your team when defining roles and assigning accountability:

  • Who should be doing this?
  • Why should they be doing this?
  • Can someone else do it?
  • Is this the right person to be doing this?
  • Is this person effective?
  • How can we support this person?

5. Feedback Processes are Broken

Feedback is an essential practice to any organization. When used properly, feedback pushes individuals and teams to grow and enhance their work. Unfortunately, many feedback processes are either outdated or broken.

Feedback can be used to build trust, hold accountability, resolve conflict, and more. Often, though, feedback processes become mundane or counterproductive. Formally giving and receiving feedback once a year won’t cut it for some organizations and giving and receiving feedback so frequently it becomes micromanagement also won’t cut it.

Feedback is most effective when it is:

  • Direct, specific, and relevant
  • Well-timed
  • Objective and constructive
  • Adaptable
  • Aligned with established expectations
  • Allowed to “marinate”
  • Regular and ongoing

Building a leadership team may be a struggle at times but when you address all of these challenges and build a fundamentally sound leadership team, success happens. By coaching & training your leadership team, individually and as a group, they will be better able to handle all of the obstacles that occur when running a department or organization, and feel more confident in their leadership roles.

Leadership Training

Most families have traditions that revolve around holidays and special occasions. We introduce you to a family with a tradition that's intertwined with the history and future of two tankers, the KC-135 Stratotanker and the new KC-46A Pegasus.
The Air Force plans to reduce training not related to Airmen’s primary jobs in order to address concerns that excessive and non-mission related demands are impacting Airmen’s ability to focus on and accomplish their core duties, officials announced Oct. 31.

The Weekly Wire Rundown is a weekly video blog from the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel, highlighting the top stories affecting Sailors and their families. The video compliments the print edition of the @USNPeople Weekly Wire, which you can subscribe to by e-mailing usnpeople@gmail.com. It can also be downloaded at www.navy.mil/cnp. We welcome any question and feedback on personnel matters or how to make this product better serve Sailors and their families.

Watch and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Our newest Virginia class submarine, USS Illinois (SSN 786), joined our fleet when it was commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

Platforms Matter: USS Illinois is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling.  
Block III: SSN-786 is the third of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities. The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia-class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

 

Experience the ceremony below that was attended by more than 2,500 people and learn these five things you need to  know about the boat.

GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) A color guard stands ready to parade the colors during the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) A color guard stands ready to parade the colors during the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) First Lady Michelle Obama, ship sponsor of USS Illinois (SSN 786), arrives at the commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) First Lady Michelle Obama, ship sponsor of USS Illinois (SSN 786), arrives at the commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson delivers the principal address at the commissioning ceremony for the Navy's newest fast attack submarine, USS Illinois (SSN 786) at Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson delivers the principal address at the commissioning ceremony for the Navy’s newest fast attack submarine, USS Illinois (SSN 786) at Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) First Lady Michelle Obama announces "Bring the Ship to Life" spurring its crew members to race across the brow and fall in formation aboard USS Illinois (SSN 786) during the commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) First Lady Michelle Obama announces “Bring the Ship to Life” spurring its crew members to race across the brow and fall in formation aboard USS Illinois (SSN 786) during the commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Sailors assigned to USS Illinois (SSN 786) raise the national ensign aboard USS Illinois during its commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Sailors assigned to USS Illinois (SSN 786) raise the national ensign aboard USS Illinois during its commissioning ceremony on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) The first watch stands ready to assume the duty aboard USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) The first watch stands ready to assume the duty aboard USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Cmdr. Jesse Porter, commanding officer of USS Illinois (SSN 786), offers remarks at the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Cmdr. Jesse Porter, commanding officer of USS Illinois (SSN 786), offers remarks at the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)

“The Illinois has joined the fleet. The crew of Illinois has assumed our watch-a watch that will continue for the next 30 years-always waiting for the call, always ready.”
– Cmdr. Jesse Porter
Commanding officer, USS Illinois (SSN 786)

GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Guests attend the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) Guests attend the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) on Naval Submarine Base New London. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
161029-N-HI707-974 GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) A guest dressed as Abraham Lincoln attend the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) and shakes hands of the crew on Naval Submarine Base New London, Oct. 29. USS Illinois is the U.S. NavyÕs 13th Virginia-Class attack submarine and the fourth ship named for the State of Illinois. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)
161029-N-HI707-974
GROTON, Conn. (Oct. 29, 2016) A guest dressed as Abraham Lincoln attend the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN 786) and shakes hands of the crew on Naval Submarine Base New London, Oct. 29. USS Illinois is the U.S. NavyÕs 13th Virginia-Class attack submarine and the fourth ship named for the State of Illinois. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Darryl I. Wood/Released)

 

WASHINGTON (Oct. 28, 2016) - The Department of Defense released today the Military Intelligence
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today honored Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper

By Cmdr. Grahame Dicks
Director, Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research

Spear_30th_Anniv_PatchThis year, we celebrate a key milestone in our organizational history and, as the director of SPEAR (Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research), I want to share with you what SPEAR does.

The air warfare division within the Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center, commonly known as SPEAR, is celebrating our 30th anniversary of providing tactically relevant threat assessments to naval aviation and our partners. The organization has come a long way in the past three decades but remains focused on its original charter of informing the warfighter and the foundational concept of having operators embedded in the intelligence community brings unique perspective to our work.

PHILIPPINE SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 launches from the flight deck of the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

 

The concept of placing fleet aviators into the intelligence community wasn’t born with SPEAR in 1986. Historical documents show that as far back as WWII, Adm. Ernest King approved the concept of placing naval aviators side-by-side with intelligence officers to provide better assessments of enemy aircraft and their tactics. This concept was furthered in 1948 with additional aviator billets to other organizations, ultimately leading to then N88 chartering SPEAR in 1986. Regardless of the age of the concept, it remains unique within the U.S. intelligence community and SPEAR remains the only intelligence organization where aviators have a primary responsibility of providing intelligence products and services.

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) refuels during Weapons and Tactics Instructor course (WTI)1-17 at Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) refuels during Weapons and Tactics Instructor course (WTI)1-17 at Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)

 

King’s approval of a single aviator to join a new intelligence organization in 1943 has grown significantly and today SPEAR is billeted for 21-military and four civilian personnel. Of the 21-military, 18 are fleet experienced naval aviators representing almost every aviation community whether strike, maritime patrol or rotary-wing aircraft. This includes a post-command aviator as the director, as well as two U.S. Marine Corps pilots. Platforms represented in our current manning include: F/A-18, EA-18G, E-2C/D, P-3/8, EP-3, SH-60B, MH-60R, MH-60S, MV-22B and the AV-8B. Our remaining three military include an air-defense savvy surface warfare officer SPEAR Logoto give us perspective on threat naval air defense capabilities and tactics and two intelligence officers, one each from the Navy and Marine Corps. With the standard rotations of military personnel, it is our civilians who provide the key tradecraft expertise and knowledge that has allowed SPEAR to successfully inform the warfighter for three decades. Three of the four current civilian intelligence professionals in SPEAR are prior naval aviators with operational experience in the H-60F/H, F-4 and E-2C. The leadership and mentorship provided by SPEAR’s civilian personnel remains essential for the success of the division.

Other blogs related to SPEAR’s history have praised the accomplishments of the organization in its early years during the first Gulf War and the years immediately following. While SPEAR’s current generation faces a different threat than that of our predecessors, the core of our analysis remains focused on potential adversaries, whether those are the professional militaries of competing nations or the irregular forces of non-state actors. We have organized ourselves into cells/teams regionally focused on the major combatant commanders and established a vulnerabilities cell to take our understanding of the threat to the next level. Much like previous SPEAR members, these regional and functional cells continue to provide tactically relevant written products to be digested by a wide audience ranging from the fleet operator to the most senior uniformed and civilian leadership of the U.S. military.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 3, 2016) An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 3, 2016) An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

 

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 13, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye attached to the "Bear Aces" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadron (VAW)124 prepares to take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brianna Bowens/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 13, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye attached to the “Bear Aces” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadron (VAW)124 prepares to take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brianna Bowens/Released)

We continue to engage directly with ready rooms and staff across the fleet by traveling to brief them in person, providing the latest assessments and intelligence on potential adversaries. For these threat briefs and written products on potential adversaries, our goal is to not only provide the “what” but the “so what” and the “why.” We feel it is our role and mission, based on the combination of operational experience and intelligence training/tradecraft of our analysts, to provide the fleet with more than just basic capabilities, orders of battle and tactics of potential foes. We want to provide that basic information with deeper understanding, assessments and predictive analysis so that our aviators are equipped with the latest intelligence to bring them safely home from every mission. This mantra has driven the stand-up of our vulnerabilities cell that seeks to “operationalize” intelligence and scientific principles to find and exploit vulnerabilities in threat air and air defense systems. Our efforts have led to the development of mission planning tools— in coordination with the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force centers of excellence—being used by aviators across the fleet and some joint partners.

The professional aviators, intelligence officers and government civilians who are the current generation of SPEAR (Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research) are an impressive group and continue the great work of previous generations. We’re dedicated to serving the fleet and the greater aviation community of interest to ensure every aviator flies their mission with a knowledge advantage over any potential adversary and returns home safely.

By Cmdr. Grahame Dicks
Director, Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research

Spear_30th_Anniv_PatchThis year, we celebrate a key milestone in our organizational history and, as the director of SPEAR (Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research), I want to share with you what SPEAR does.

The air warfare division within the Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center, commonly known as SPEAR, is celebrating our 30th anniversary of providing tactically relevant threat assessments to naval aviation and our partners. The organization has come a long way in the past three decades but remains focused on its original charter of informing the warfighter and the foundational concept of having operators embedded in the intelligence community brings unique perspective to our work.

PHILIPPINE SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the "Eagles" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 launches from the flight deck of the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA: An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

 

The concept of placing fleet aviators into the intelligence community wasn’t born with SPEAR in 1986. Historical documents show that as far back as WWII, Adm. Ernest King approved the concept of placing naval aviators side-by-side with intelligence officers to provide better assessments of enemy aircraft and their tactics. This concept was furthered in 1948 with additional aviator billets to other organizations, ultimately leading to then N88 chartering SPEAR in 1986. Regardless of the age of the concept, it remains unique within the U.S. intelligence community and SPEAR remains the only intelligence organization where aviators have a primary responsibility of providing intelligence products and services.

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) refuels during Weapons and Tactics Instructor course (WTI)1-17 at Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)
A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) refuels during Weapons and Tactics Instructor course (WTI)1-17 at Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez)

 

King’s approval of a single aviator to join a new intelligence organization in 1943 has grown significantly and today SPEAR is billeted for 21-military and four civilian personnel. Of the 21-military, 18 are fleet experienced naval aviators representing almost every aviation community whether strike, maritime patrol or rotary-wing aircraft. This includes a post-command aviator as the director, as well as two U.S. Marine Corps pilots. Platforms represented in our current manning include: F/A-18, EA-18G, E-2C/D, P-3/8, EP-3, SH-60B, MH-60R, MH-60S, MV-22B and the AV-8B. Our remaining three military include an air-defense savvy surface warfare officer SPEAR Logoto give us perspective on threat naval air defense capabilities and tactics and two intelligence officers, one each from the Navy and Marine Corps. With the standard rotations of military personnel, it is our civilians who provide the key tradecraft expertise and knowledge that has allowed SPEAR to successfully inform the warfighter for three decades. Three of the four current civilian intelligence professionals in SPEAR are prior naval aviators with operational experience in the H-60F/H, F-4 and E-2C. The leadership and mentorship provided by SPEAR’s civilian personnel remains essential for the success of the division.

Other blogs related to SPEAR’s history have praised the accomplishments of the organization in its early years during the first Gulf War and the years immediately following. While SPEAR’s current generation faces a different threat than that of our predecessors, the core of our analysis remains focused on potential adversaries, whether those are the professional militaries of competing nations or the irregular forces of non-state actors. We have organized ourselves into cells/teams regionally focused on the major combatant commanders and established a vulnerabilities cell to take our understanding of the threat to the next level. Much like previous SPEAR members, these regional and functional cells continue to provide tactically relevant written products to be digested by a wide audience ranging from the fleet operator to the most senior uniformed and civilian leadership of the U.S. military.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 3, 2016) An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of the Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 3, 2016) An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12, takes off from the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

 

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 13, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye attached to the "Bear Aces" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadron (VAW)124 prepares to take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brianna Bowens/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 13, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye attached to the “Bear Aces” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning squadron (VAW)124 prepares to take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brianna Bowens/Released)

We continue to engage directly with ready rooms and staff across the fleet by traveling to brief them in person, providing the latest assessments and intelligence on potential adversaries. For these threat briefs and written products on potential adversaries, our goal is to not only provide the “what” but the “so what” and the “why.” We feel it is our role and mission, based on the combination of operational experience and intelligence training/tradecraft of our analysts, to provide the fleet with more than just basic capabilities, orders of battle and tactics of potential foes. We want to provide that basic information with deeper understanding, assessments and predictive analysis so that our aviators are equipped with the latest intelligence to bring them safely home from every mission. This mantra has driven the stand-up of our vulnerabilities cell that seeks to “operationalize” intelligence and scientific principles to find and exploit vulnerabilities in threat air and air defense systems. Our efforts have led to the development of mission planning tools— in coordination with the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force centers of excellence—being used by aviators across the fleet and some joint partners.

The professional aviators, intelligence officers and government civilians who are the current generation of SPEAR (Strike Evaluation and Anti-Air Research) are an impressive group and continue the great work of previous generations. We’re dedicated to serving the fleet and the greater aviation community of interest to ensure every aviator flies their mission with a knowledge advantage over any potential adversary and returns home safely.