In the Navy, our concept of an organization is dominated by the “chain of command” and the quintessential “org chart,” both of which are vertically focused. These concepts do a good job of telling us who we work for, and who works for us. However, they serve little purpose in outlining with whom we should work. These relationships are horizontal in nature and help us navigate the seams of an organization, seams which are readily apparent in a traditional, vertically-focused “org chart.” While vertical relationships are key to authority and responsibility, effective innovation, planning, and execution are typically dependent on horizontal relationships.
The Chief Petty Officers’ Mess is well known for establishing horizontal relationships. Chiefs utilize relationships established during CPO 365 and within the Chiefs’ Mess to solve problems and accomplish the mission. In essence, the effectiveness of the Chiefs’ Mess is based in large part on these horizontal relationships. These horizontal relationships need not be limited to the Chiefs’ Mess, however. Command members at all ranks, officer and enlisted, can and should seek to establish these relationships in order to make themselves and their command or organization more effective.
A good example is the somewhat recent emphasis on the N3/N2 (Ops/Intel) relationship, linking the operator to the intelligence professional, and vice versa. The result has been greater synchronization between these supporting entities. Another example is the establishment of the Information Dominance Corps (IDC), which seeks to establish a close working relationship between information-focused communities. Regardless of where these information-focused professionals work in an organization, a roadmap for their horizontal relationships has been pre-established by the formation of the IDC. The possibilities for horizontal relationships are truly endless, while the potential value in establishing and utilizing these relationships is immeasurable.
Establishing a horizontal relationship takes little effort. Warfare qualification programs, command functions, social events, and command organizations, such as the First Class Petty Officers Association, all encourage the establishment of horizontal relationships. Getting out of your work space and interacting with your peers is another method. Share each other’s roles and responsibilities and seek to identify overlap, and common or supporting efforts. Then establish a relationship and ensure you leverage it whenever necessary or feasible.
Horizontal relationships need not be limited to your own command or organization. Establishing relationships with other commands or supporting staffs can be beneficial as well. Horizontal relationships can also be established within a wider community, leveraging the collective thoughts of a large, diverse group. Tools like the IDC Self-Synchronization website enable establishment and utilization of such relationships.
So the next time you think about the chain of command or look at an org chart, focus on the horizontal vice vertical aspects of the organization. Identify the seams and look for places to establish horizontal relationships, relationships that will help make you and the command more effective. Then set out to navigate the seams.
LCDR Chuck Hall is an Information Warfare Officer and member of the Information Dominance Corps. He enlisted in the Navy in 1988 and served 13 years as a Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) prior to commissioning as a CWO2. Subsequently selected for LDO, he transitioned to the Restricted Line once he completed his BA in Middle Eastern Studies. He currently serves on the CCSG-8 staff, embarked in USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. When at home he enjoys spending time with his wife and three amazing children. He has also contributed to Connecting the Dots with his blog post Waiting to Lead.
Much has been written of late about “Creating Cyber Warriors” within the Navy’s Officer Corps. In fact, three prominent and well-respected members of the Navy’s Information Dominance Corps published a very well articulated article by that very title in the October 2012 edition of Proceedings. It is evident that the days of feeling compelled to advocate for such expertise within our wardroom are behind us. We have gotten passed the WHY and are in the throes of debating the WHAT and HOW. In essence, we know WHY we need cyber expertise and we know WHAT cyber expertise we need. What we don’t seem to have agreement on is WHO should deliver such expertise and HOW do we get there.
As a proud member of both the Cryptologic Community and the Information Dominance Corps, I feel confident stating the responsibility for cultivating such expertise lies squarely on our own shoulders. The Information Dominance Corps, and more specifically the Cryptologic and Information Professional Communities, have a shared responsibility to “Deliver Geeks to the Fleet.” That’s right, I said “Geeks” and not “Cyber Warriors.” We don’t need, and despite the language many are using, the Navy doesn’t truly want “Cyber Warriors.” We need and want “Cyber Geeks.” Rather than lobby for Unrestricted Line status, which seems to be the center of gravity for some, we should focus entirely on delivering operational expertise regardless of our officer community designation.
For far too long, many people in the Restricted Line Communities have looked at the Unrestricted Line Communities as the cool kids in school. Some consider them the “in-crowd” and want to sit at their lunch table. Some think wearing another community’s warfare device validates us as naval officers and is the path to acceptance, opportunity, and truly fitting in. We feel an obligation to speak their language, understand the inner workings of their culture, and act more and more like them. Some have grown so weary of being different or considered weird that many would say we’ve lost our identity. Though establishment of the Information Dominance Corps has revitalized our identity, created a unity of effort amongst us in the information mission areas, and further established information as a legitimate warfare area, many continue to advocate that we are lesser because of our Restricted Line status. We seem to think we want and need to be Unrestricted Line Officers ourselves. Why? Sure, we would like to have direct accessions so that we can deliberately grow and select the specialized expertise necessary to deliver cyber effects to the Fleet. Yes, we would like a seat at the power table monopolized by Unrestricted Line Officers. And yes, we would appreciate the opportunity to have more of our own enjoy the levels of influence VADM Mike Rogers currently does as Commander, Fleet Cyber Command and Commander, U.S. TENTH Fleet.
But there is another path; a path that celebrates, strengthens, and capitalizes on our uniqueness.
In the private sector, companies are continually racing to the middle so they can appeal to the masses. It’s a race to the bottom that comes from a focus on cutting costs as a means of gaining market share. There are, however, some obvious exceptions, my favorite of which is Apple. Steve Jobs was not overly interested in addressing customers’ perceived desires. Instead, he anticipated the needs of the marketplace, showed the world what was possible before anyone else even dreamt it, and grew a demand signal that did not previously exist. He was not interested in appealing to the masses and he surely wasn’t focused on the acceptance of others in his industry. He was focused on creating unique value (i.e. meaningful entrepreneurship over hollow innovation), putting “a dent in the universe,” and delivering a product about which he was personally proud. We know how this approach evolved. The market moved toward Apple; the music, movie, phone, and computing industries were forever changed; and the technological bar was raised with each product delivered under his leadership. Rather than lobby for a seat at the table where other leaders were sitting, he sat alone and watched others pick up their trays to sit with him. Even those who chose not to sit with him were looking over at his table with envy, doing their best to incrementally build on the revolutionary advances only he was able to realize.
Rather than seek legitimacy by advocating to be part of Team Unrestricted Line, we ought to focus on delivering so much value that we are considered a vital part of each and every team because of our uniqueness. I am reminded of a book by Seth Godin titled “We Are All Weird.” In it he refers to “masses” as the undifferentiated, “normal” as the defining characteristics of the masses, and “weird” as those who have chosen not to blindly conform to the way things have always been done. For the sake of argument, let’s consider the Unrestricted Line Officers as the masses, those considering themselves “warfighters” as the normal, and the Information Dominance Corps as the weird. I say the last with a sense of hope. I hope that we care enough to maintain our weirdness and that we don’t give in to the peer pressure that could drive us to lobby for a seat at what others perceive to be “The Cool Table.” By choosing to be weird and committing more than ever to embrace our geekiness, the table perceived to be cool will be the one at which the four Information Dominance Communities currently sit. It won’t happen by accident, but it will happen, provided we want it to happen. Not because we want to be perceived as “cool,” but because we are so good at what we do, and we deliver so much unique value to the Navy and Nation, that no warfighting team is considered complete without its own personal “Cyber Geek.”
I sincerely respect the opinions voiced in the article to which I referred earlier in this post. However, I think we are better than we give ourselves credit for. Let’s not conform, let’s create. Let’s not generalize, let’s specialize. Let’s not be normal, let’s be weird. Let’s choose to be Geeks.
CDR Sean Heritage is an Information Warfare Officer who is currently transitioning from Command of NIOC Pensacola to Staff Officer at U.S. Cyber Command. He regularly posts to his leadership-focused blog, Connecting the Dots.
Fouled Anchor Intro: This post appears at the request of a leader in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and its Self-Synchronization Team, known as the IDCSync. While the subject may appear a bit specialized on the surface, the concept should have wide appeal, particularly for other relatively small communities. It should also be of interest to members of other warfare communities, arguably beneficiaries of the IDC’s specialized skills, and the IDC can only benefit from your comments and contributions.
I was compelled to ask before posting it how are the discussions, since many take place on Facebook, are they anonymous. Well, Facebook obviously isn’t, but many of the ideas shared via IDCSync appear in their weekly newsletter. They are submitted anonymously or come from other non-attributed sources. They may originate anywhere, from offline discussions to passing comments or unofficial gripes. It is proving an effective means of converting ideas which may have died in the passageway to discussions with a Flag audience.
There are many outlets for this type of post, but the IDCSync sought publication here, on your USNI Blog, because they understand that this blog has Navy-wide relevance and reach…much like the IDC itself.
In the spirit of taking permission, demonstrating horizontal leadership, and active communication, the below post comes from the “Cloud of Collaboration” that is the Information Dominance Corps Self-Synchronization Team…
“Fostering Collaboration and Conversation Across the IDC”
They have never met in person, individually or as a group, yet they are a team in the strongest sense of the word. They volunteer their time. Their work is strictly unofficial. Their individual anonymity ensures only the group as a whole gains credit for their actions. Their collective efforts enable collaboration and ensure collective situational awareness across a newly-formed community. They are self-starters who believe in “making time” for the collective good of that community. They are the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Self Synchronization Team.
The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ordered the establishment of the IDC on October 6, 2009. As outlined in OPNAV Instruction 5300.12, “the IDC has been created within the U.S. Navy to more effectively and collaboratively lead and manage a cadre of officers, enlisted, and civilian professionals who possess skills in information-intensive fields.” Those personnel include Information Professional (IP) officers and Information Technicians (IT), Information Warfare (IW) officers and Cryptologic Technicians (CT), Naval Intelligence officers and Intelligence Specialists (IS), Oceanography (OCEANO) officers and Aerographer’s Mates (AG), select members of the Space Cadre, and associated civilians. Under the leadership of the newly-established Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6) the IDC encompasses more than 47,000 Navy professionals.
The IDC Self Synchronization effort — IDCsync for short — began shortly after the IDC was established with just one person and an idea: Find a way to bring the members of the IDC together using the latest in collaboration and communication tools.
That individual effort soon grew with the addition of a number of like-minded individuals. Today, the IDCsync Team is as diverse as the IDC itself with team members hailing from the ranks of active and reserve force enlisted and officer ranks, as well as civilian members of the community. Their guiding principle is “making time;” each member makes time to make their environment, their shipmates, and the entire IDC better.
The group’s greatest strength, beyond its members, is its unofficial status. This is a grassroots effort of IDC members working for and with other IDC members to move the community forward. As an independent initiative, the individual efforts of the team members are not constrained by anything more than the group’s collective approval. But as IDC members themselves, the group has a vested interest in forwarding a productive, collaborative dialogue aimed at improving the IDC as a whole.
Tools and Channels
To reach the members of the IDC, the IDCsync Team employs a number of channels drawn from the tools of the trade of the information age (and the IDC) — email (using a newsletter format), the web, and various social media venues.
Most of the effort is concentrated on the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook site, which currently serves over 2,000 members. The page’s stated purpose is “To share unclassified information, enhance our collective situational awareness and facilitate the development of a common Navy IDC culture.”
IDCsync Team members independently post information relevant to the IDC on the Facebook page, coordinating their efforts electronically via a team coordination site and online chat. Information shared runs the gamut of the IDC interest areas — technology, innovation, and leadership issues included. if it’s deemed pertinent to the IDC, it is posted on the site. The ultimate goal is to spark conversation and collaboration between members.
In recognition of its growing audience and increasing reach, the site has been used by members of the IDC Flag Deck to disseminate official correspondence and reach the greater IDC collective. IDCsync’s audience includes everyone from the backbone of the IDC, our enlisted Sailors, to commanding officers, current and former IDC Flag Officers, and civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) staff. Administrators and site members alike can post information, share ideas, and collaborate.
The primary IDC Self Synchronization web site contains pertinent IDC documents and resources with the intent of creating a “one stop” library of information.
The team also sends out a weekly newsletter which encapsulates Facebook posts for the previous week. The same information is also disseminated via Twitter, Google+ (Google’s new social networking site), and eChirp on Intelink-U. Details of all the venues are available on the web page.
With the IDC Self Synchronization team and tools in place, the only missing element is you.
Does the idea of sharing, collaborating, and enhancing the professional knowledge of the community resonate with you? Then now is the time to step out of the audience and join the conversation. Join your community conversation by visiting the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook and web sites today. The forum belongs to you — make it your own!
IDC Self Synchronization Team
Another insightful blog on CDR Sean Heritage’s homeblog, Connecting the Dots. He offers great advice on how leaders can (at least try to) influence who will relieve them, and why they should do so.
What CDR Heritage did was take Admiral Harvey’s idea about 360 degree input, especially as it relates to screening officers for command, to heart. Not only that; he took the iniative - in spite of “the potential for ridicule” – to implement it. His justification is helping ensure that the right officer eventually takes the reins of his command.
Using a sports analogy, sometimes the best athlete available is not the best fit for the team currently making their draft selection. In our case, sometimes the best person on paper is far from the best person for a given job. I want to help ensure the best Senior Chief and the best Commander for NIOC Pensacola are “drafted” in place of the Senior Chief with the best relationship with the detailer and happens to have the right PRD and the Commander who “looks good on paper”. Our community is far too small for us to ignore the intangibles.
Read CDR Heritage’s entire post here: Succession Planning
Final approval of officer and enlisted warfare programs for Information Dominance personnel was great news. A rigorous qualification program has the potential to further professionalize the field, but to do so, the program must be respected.
The good news of program approval was bolstered by a recent Navy Times article, available here, cut and paste from the 29Sep10 CHINFO Clips: Info Warrios, Get Your Pins – by Mark Faram, Navy Times 04Oct10.
In the article, Fleet Master Chief Jay Powers, the senior enlisted Sailor in Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet, committed to a qualification program without grandfathering, the practice of accepting experience in lieu Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) completion. Master Chief Powers’ intent was quite clear; “There will be no fast-tracking or grandfathering of qualifications,” an idea he said was discussed and “hotly contested.”
Disallowing grandfathering is exactly how warfare qualifications should be; however, Master Chief Power’s comments only apply to the Enlisted Information Dominance Warfare Specialist (EIDWS) program; they do not apply to Information Dominance Officer (IDO) qualifications. In fact, the IDO program has an established Accelerated Qualification Process. Behold the double standard.
Sadly, Cyber Command/10th Fleet leaders decided to set different standards for their officers and their enlisted Sailors. Certain officers, many in fact, need only minimal experience and some other qualifications (many experience-based themselves) to qualify for an accelerated qualification process approved by Vice Admiral Dorsett . Officers eligible for fast-tracking need only complete an e-learning tutorial and a 30-question exam for final IWO completion. Although for many it will introduce new information, it’s far from challenging. At least one officer with average experience completed the review and the test (successfully) in just a few hours.
A two-hour review and a 30-question test do anything but maintain the integrity of the program, an imperative according to FLTCM Powers’ interview with Navy Times.
Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet leaders need to quickly reconsider their approach to qualifying a number of officers with a fast-track program, even one which is only available for a short time. As Fleet Master Chief Powers told Navy Times, “anything seen as making it easier for a select few would ‘erode the credibility of EIDWS.’”
And so it would for any warfare qualification, officer or enlisted. In this case, fast-tracking IWO qualifications will not only erode the credibility of a brand new warfare program, it risks eroding the credibility of the nascent IDC community as a whole.
Obviously some number of officers and enlisted members of the IDC need to be designated as qualified in Information Dominance based on experience and a RIGOROUS delta training and examination; otherwise there will be nobody to qualify the less experienced members of the community. But any group so qualified should be strictly limited to the most experienced officers (perhaps CWO4s and 5s, LDO LCDRs and all CDRs and CAPTs) and senior enlisted professionals (perhaps SCPOs and MCPOs).
The Information Dominance Corps needs to treat its officer and enlisted leaders equally, and get rid of the double standard. Doing otherwise could do significant damage to the reputation of IDC officers and the community itself.
And respect as warfighters might already be something the IDC needs to work on.
The first women selected to serve onboard submarines have been identified. Some questions are worth asking…and they deserve answers. In the interest of transparency, the Navy owes the public – at the very least the sub community – an explanation of how these ladies were chosen for this elite duty. How many competed for selection? And how will future female submarine assignments be made?
USNI Blogger MIDN Jeff Withington recently described the rigorous screening process he completed for selection to nuclear power and the submarine community. Considering that annual nuke power and sub assignments were made last October, was a similar selection process held recently for these female candidates? Was some other process used?
Because the first group of females did not compete for assignment in October, they apparently didn’t compete against anyone except themselves. Until we know how many women applied, we won’t know how tough (statistically at least) the competition was. In the future, women should compete against for assignment to the submarine community without quotas, on equal footing against men and each other. Certainly the ‘right’ number of women need to be selected to fill staterooms and not leave a ship’s manning unbalanced, but otherwise, women should compete against every other applicant for assignment to this community.
The investigation into the mass murder on Ft. Hood continues, but there is no doubt who was responsible, and his motivations are clear. He (his name doesn’t deserve mentioning) acted out of a radical belief in Islam and a hatred of the United States.
One decision by the Army will determine how the service, and the administration, view this attack. Will it be viewed only as a crime, or will it be viewed as a terrorist attack committed by an enemy of this nation? The answer lies in whether or not the victims are awarded Purple Hearts.
Army Regulation 600-8-22 (regulation page 20, pdf page 40), article 2-8 b.(6), requires that “the act must be recognized by the Secretary of the Army as an international terrorist attack.”
(6) After 28 March 1973, as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack. (http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_8_22.pdf)
The victims of this cowardly and monstrous attack deserved better than to die or be wounded in what was otherwise a place of safety. Their sacrifice must be properly recognized. They earned and deserve the Purple Heart. What, and when, will the Secretary decide?
In a previous post, I posed the somewhat rhetorical question, Is Cryptology Dead? At the time, it appeared that cryptology and Signals Intelligence were not quite dead, but were certainly being under-valued. It appears that is all about to change.
A 23Jul09 Chief of Naval Operations memo titled Fleet Cyber Command/Commander Tenth Fleet Implementation Plan (pdf) directs the formulation of a plan to stand up these two new commands. This new organization will “serve as the Naval Component Commander to [U.S. Cyber Command]” and as the Navy Service Cryptologic Commander. As background, USCYBERCOM is also a new agency, its own formation directed only a month ago by SECDEF memo (pdf).
FLTCYBERCOM is interesting in many ways, but it cannot go unnoticed that this will be a kind of trip back to the future. The purpose and structure will not be unlike the former Naval Security Group Command, one of the organizations absorbed by NETWARCOM just four years ago. Ironically, under the construct described in the CNO memo, NETWARCOM will be subordinate to FLTCYBERCOM. It will also lose an echelon and a star…moving from echelon two to three and its command billet going from three stars to two.
The known plans for FLTCYBERCOM allow limited analysis and lots of conjecture (and I encourage both, especially from folks who really understand naval organization). The implementation plan will provide a lot more information if it’s made public. Two important decisions are location and commander. Because of the relationship with USCYBERCOM (proposed location Ft. Meade) and the National Security Agency (Ft. Meade), FLTCYBERCOM should reestablish the Navy flag officer presence on the Fort. The future commander will likely be an intel officer…or will the information warfare/cryptologic community get a vice admiral?
The final analysis will not be possible until some time after the command reaches full operational capablility, but this is a step toward reinvigorating SIGINT and achieving true excellence in the other functions FLTCYBERCOM will dominate. What is already clear is the CNO’s imperative for change. The implementation plan is due by 31 August and the command will be operational on 1 October. That’s light speed in any bureaucracy.
[For those who might remember, I wasn’t happy about NETWARCOM’s plan to rename to Cyber Command. Well, I still don’t love the name, but you could call it Frank if you wanted, just as long as cryptology is no longer ignored.]
Today is the 100th birthday of former Chief Petty Officer and retired Lieutenant John W. Finn. Still known affectionately to many as Chief Finn, he earned the first Medal of Honor of World War II for actions at Kaneohe Bay, Hawai’i, on 7 December 1941. He is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.
According to homeofheroes.com, “Kaneohe Bay was attacked five minutes before Pearl Harbor, which some might argue makes John Finn’s actions that day the FIRST Medal of Honor action of World War II. John has never seen himself as a hero. ‘I was just a Good ‘ol Navy man doing my job,’ he says humbly.”
Chief Finn was originally transferred to the Fleet Reserve as a Chief Petty Officer but was later “placed on the Retired List in the rank of Lieutenant.”
Those of us who have had the distinct pleasure of meeting Chief Finn, hearing him tell the story of the fateful day he displayed such unique valor, will never forget it. His account of the attacks on Kaneohe Bay and Pearl Harbor, and his special way of telling it, are fantastic. It’s no wonder a man who fought so hard that day is a centenarian and the oldest living MOH recipient. He is a Navy and national treasure.
Chief Finn’s Medal of Honor citation speaks for itself:
For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, KanoeheBay, on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Finn promptly secured and manned a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
See this video from NBC News marking John’s 99th Birthday. To quote the report, “there are men alive today because John Finn was on duty that day.”
- Veterans Supporting Homeless Veterans
- A Defense of the Millennial Officer from an Old Guy
- Does Generation X Still Fit?
- Live on Midrats 17 August 2014: Episode 241: Personnel Policy and Leadership, with VADM Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel
- The Virtue of Being a Generalist, Part 1: A Day in the Life of Sub Lieutenant Snodgrass