SAN DIEGO, Calif. – U.S. Fleet Forces Command announced a new initiative to address operational fleet and industrial base readiness through data analytics.
“We need some fundamental changes in how we approach readiness, how we generate it, analyze it, measure it, integrate it, articulate what we need and predict what the return on our readiness investment might be,” Fleet Forces commander Adm. Christopher Grady said during a speech at the WEST 2019 conference, co-hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA.
Grady said he wanted to see readiness improvements in three areas: operational readiness, or the effectiveness of today’s fleet to fight and win; structural readiness, to ensure the Navy has the right relationships and processes in place to respond quickly and agilely as challenges arise; and “foundry” readiness, or the readiness of the public and private shipyards and depots that maintain ships, submarines and aircraft.
For each of those pieces of readiness, Grady said he wanted metrics to aim for and data that could measure the success of readiness-building efforts – rather than relying on subjective assessments.
For example, he spoke of “reviewing what we are being asked to do from the operational level of war down to the tactical level. So another way of looking at this is, I want metrics associated with every item on the mission essential task list. This should help us answer the question, ready for what? And it will ensure we understand, using objective metrics, how any one unit’s readiness affects the fleet’s ability to perform its wider mission.”
Grady wants to examine the readiness of all enterprises – aviation, submarine, surface, information warfare and expeditionary communities – and create an actionable feedback loop between his command, the type commanders and the systems commands so that all organizations can contribute to measuring and improving readiness. Grady said the TYCOMs and SYSCOMs have unused or underused data sitting around that would primarily support the foundry readiness line of effort, and he wants to find a way to take advantage of that data they already have, as well as identify other data that should be collected to create a clearer picture of Navy and industrial base readiness.
Grady spoke of establishing a chief readiness officer position to manage this overall effort, as well as a Fleet Analytics Office to handle the data collection and analysis side of the initiative, dubbed the Revolutionize Readiness Campaign Plan.
“The final frontier of analytical capabilities [is] prescriptive analytics, where our automated analytical tools would accelerate our decision-making by suggesting decision options that might not have been aware if we had relied only on human actions alone,” Grady said of his vision for the fleet.
“To accomplish this, I seek to establish a Fleet Analytics Office that would develop the dashboards and reporting tools to see real-time what is going on. They will also develop a risk matrix that helps us assess risk against the mission and drive accountability. And we also need to assess whether we have a modern [information technology] structure in place to support these efforts across the Navy’s readiness exercise.”
Grady said during a question and answer session that “the Revolutionize Readiness Campaign Plan is perhaps the most important line of effort that I have as Fleet Forces” and was developed after several months of working with leaders across the waterfront. He said he intended to sign the campaign plan in the next couple of weeks and would then begin planning specific actions in support of this effort.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson spoke at WEST 2019 later in the day and told USNI News that he saw a great opportunity for the Navy to leverage data to improve readiness and performance. Ahead of coming to the WEST conference, he stopped by Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division to discuss their efforts to collect performance data for the surface navy and understand how to take past data and use it for predictive purposes.
“There is a tremendous opportunity as we get performance data to get it into a database that’s accessible and authoritative and then map out against a sort of a model of each of our ships and assess how combat-ready that ship is. And then you can also use it with some artificial intelligence types of agents or capabilities to do even some predictive types of analysis – so as I get prepared to deploy, what are those things I need to be paying attention to, where are perhaps I’m most vulnerable based on historical patterns,” Richardson said, noting that the Navy wouldn’t have to make much of an investment in hardware to do this but rather embrace new processes and “just doing business a little bit differently.”
“So I think that there’s a tremendous use for data-driven decisions improving our readiness,” Richardson continued.
“We’re sort of getting after this with this ‘Perform to Plan’ approach, we’re seeing some improvements already in aircraft maintenance. We’re turning that same approach to surface ship and submarines, and so great potential.”