Saturday, March 12, 2016

Now that we have a new name....maybe a new org chart?

First off, I like our communities new name: Cryptologic Warfare Officer.  I even think the new seal is cool. 

Fun fact: if you zoom in on the seal, there is lettering on the ring that looks like a cypher or key of some kind.  I haven't had a chance to break it, but hopefully it's not someone's personal key.

BTW, not a good idea!
Now that we have a new name, I'm hoping we really consider changing our organization structure, because I don't think what we have now will scale well with the Navy, and I think we can do better for our Sailors.

The main problem we have is that we sold ourselves on NSA's structure.  NSA went to regional centers, so we organized our Task Force Structure around that.  This structure worked in terms of providing NIP-funded bodies to national missions.  It even worked for direct support, but required us to federate DIRSUP Sailors from all over the community to fill out Navy combatant needs.  And more importantly, it worked during a time when Navy forces were in demand, but not as much demand as IA and support to land warfare (Iraq and Afghanistan).

With a greater focus on maritime conflicts (see the ever growing Navies of the PRC, Russia and others), we are putting ships out to sea longer and more frequently, but we have a declining budget for things like travel and training.  This becomes a massive issue when you aren't on the waterfront and it becomes expensive to attempt to ride on a platform whenever it goes to sea.  The perception can become that we aren't supporting the platform (because we aren't physically there) and that we are sending out junior personnel (because we aren't giving them the time onboard to learn).

A second complication is that we don't have enough middle management to help out.

Before you dismiss it outright, think about how submarines are structured.  Most submarines are O-5 commands, who work for a Commodore (O-6), who works for a Group Commander (1 Star), who works for SUBLANT (3 Star).  It looks something like this:
This works for many reasons.  The submarine can tackle local issues because it is a command.  Squadron leadership gives it the O-6 horsepower to deal with issues bigger than itself (say the shipyard).  There is at least one flag before hitting SUBLANT so that everything from awards (remember that MSMs need an O-7) and other first-flag admin to big issues that affect multiple submarines has the right level of attention.  This leaves SUBLANT able to work strategic issues befitting of his rank.

In fact, this structure works so well, the Navy wrote it into the SORM.  Surface and air platforms use a similar structure.  The structure works for Sailors because there is almost always a local commanding officer that can focus on Sailor issues.  Submarines are 150-170 people, and squadron staffs aren't bigger than that.  Group and higher staffs are bigger, but typically staffed by more senior personnel.  The structure in general makes it hard for Sailors to become lost in a big organization.

Contrast this with Tenth Fleet's structure.  Tenth Fleet essentially doesn't have squadrons or groups.  We have a few "mega" O-6 commands in the thousands of Sailors, and only a few O-5 commands.  This puts enormous pressure on Tenth Fleet actual to solve a lot of problems, because there are no subordinate flags to handle them.  It puts Sailors in massive commands and makes it difficult for Commanding Officers to take care of them.  It's very easy to get lost in one of our big four NIOCs right now.

We can do better.  If I had the chance to be king for a day, I'd scrap the structure and line us up more like the rest of the Navy.  For example, we have a LOT of DIRSUP manning. Our DIRSUP shops are larger than many Navy combatants, and yet are a mere division or department in a larger NIOC.  I think we'd be better off breaking them out as separate commands.

I put some gold oak leafs on there because while the Navy at large has gotten away from O-4 commands, I think we should do the opposite.  We're better off putting some of our O-4s in leadership slots early to start building our future leaders.  It pains me to listen to interviews of former CNOs who talk about commanding ships as Ensigns and JGs, but were the same people that eliminated those commands as they climbed the ranks.  Being a Naval Officer is about leading Sailors, and command is a big part of that.

This structure lines up with bigger Navy and would give us the right people to engage at different levels.  Need someone to interface with AIRLANT on an EP-3 installation issue?  We have an O-6 and O-7 who are available.  We also break apart these mega commands and give a lot more local control to officers who can make decisions more quickly than a massive staff.

But let's not stop there.  We can't forget our communicators.

Or our newest cyber teams

Or even our support to national forces

We'd have to create something to cover commands like NCWDG, but it can be done.

I think this structure would build better Cryptologic Warfare Officers.  I also think we would be able to take better care of our Sailors and not have them get lost in big organizations.  It would help push down responsibility and give Tenth Fleet the ability to focus on strategic issues, plus give us flag officers that can tackle the problems we're going to face over the next ten years.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Fleet Cyber Command or any of its subordinates.  All drawings were generated by the author and do not reflect any actual command structures.