SPAWAR to Industry: ‘We’ve Got to Go Faster’ to Maintain Military Edge

February 7, 2018 9:56 AM
Rear Adm. Christian “Boris” Becker, commmander of Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Command. US Navy Photo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The days of U.S. military supremacy might be over, but not if the military services and industry find ways to quickly innovate and rapidly deliver solutions to the fleet, the head of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command told a defense industry audience on Tuesday.

“Strategic competition is driving the urgency for us to find our way to deliver, to modernize, to enable the joint force with a more lethal force, and to reach out for our allies and partners to be part of that lethal force,” Rear Adm. Christian “Boris” Becker, the SPAWAR commander, told an audience at the WEST 2018 conference, co-hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.

It’s “strategic competition with a sense of urgency,” said Becker, echoing a theme in the 2018 National Defense Strategy signed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “It’s all about competition – competition that is closing the gap,” he added.

“There is no guarantee that we will have superiority or supremacy unless we make it so, unless we deliver on the capability,” Becker said, “…and we follow through to put that capability and capacity in the hands of our warfighting so that we can create that superiority at the space, at the time, for the duration and for the scope of what we need to affect our mission.”

“Whether that battlefield is on the ground, whether the battlefield is at sea, in the air, in space, or on the network, we are facing strategic competition. What are we going to do – what are you going to do – to make sure we can face that competition, that we can compete and win?” he said. In the audience were dozens of industry representatives, representing major defense firms and small businesses, the latter which received nearly 32 percent of the $5.2 billion in contracts issued by SPAWAR last year. “Let’s make it happen,” Becker said.

Becker, who took command of SPAWAR in March 2017, last fall issued SPAWAR’s “Strategic Vision, 2018-2027,” an update to a 2015 document.[]

“It’s not a technical vision. It’s a strategic vision,” he said, noting the rapid speed of technological advances. “And it’s not a tactical competition we are in today, it’s a strategic competition. We need to be better, faster, stronger.”

“We’ve got to take that cycle, and make it happen faster,” he said, especially with getting innovation, technology and systems the fleet needs, in hand and operational.

That includes delivering cyber resiliency – “meaning we can take a hit and still fight through it,” he said – against attacks that undoubtedly occur constantly and often. “Are we going to be ready and move forward through that? The answer is: We’d better be.”

“We have to deliver on this vision,” he added. “If we get to the ability to move at the speed that if we see a threat, if we see a need, if we see a problem, we can change that capability, we can test and integrate that capability. We can deploy that capability securely at the speed at which the fleet needs it – measured in days, maybe hours – not in fiscal years.”

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She has spent more than 20 years reporting extensively on the Marine Corps and the Navy, including West Coast commands and Pacific regional issues.

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