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NEWS | April 10, 2018

SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic holds leadership summit

By Susan Piedfort SSC Atlantic Public Affairs

More than 230 Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic Integrated Product Team (IPT) leads and members gathered here March 21 and 22 for a leadership summit focused on the theme of “speed to the fleet.” Leaders from the Marine Corps, SPAWAR Systems Command headquarters, Program Executive Officers and Fleet Forces Command shared their ideas during the summit, along with SSC Atlantic technical and acquisition leaders.

According to SSC Atlantic Deputy Executive Director and summit organizer Bill Deligne, the speakers and panels focused on the Navy’s need to accelerate the delivery of capabilities to the fleet, and how SSC Atlantic can answer the need through innovative acquisition, rapid project execution and high velocity learning. Capt. Scott Heller, SSC Atlantic commanding officer, kicked off the summit, emphasizing that systems engineering provides the foundation needed at SSC Atlantic to deliver capabilities with speed, affordability and interoperability.

Rear Adm. Carl Chebi, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and Space Systems, and John W.R. Pope, executive director, PEO C4I, gave a roadmap of PEO C4I strategies. Chebi emphasized the importance of focusing on speed and the culture change required to provide the Navy our nation needs. “We must get out of the normal way of thinking as we focus on speed to capability,” Chebi said. “We can do things differently or do different things.”

Capt. Ed Katz of Fleet Forces Command discussed warfighter priorities from his perspective. Noting that threats are rapidly changing the playing field for warfighters, Katz said many of our processes are designed for the past. It is more important than ever for Sailors to know how to operate new technology and sustain it, he said. “Training Sailors is a shared responsibility. Readiness means the systems are there when they are needed, and Sailors know how to use them.”

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Mike Regner discussed leadership challenges and opportunities. The foundations of leadership, he said, are listening (the art of communication), learning (the ability to observe), launching (building and empowering the team) and loyalty (enduring). “You have to leave your comfort zone. You have to communicate, eyeball-to-eyeball and kneecap-to-kneecap,” the general said.

Lt. Col. Devin Licklider, program manager for Command and Control Systems and Command Element Systems for Marine Corps Systems Command, gave perspectives from a program manager and the operating forces. He said requirements are coming faster and faster in the cyber domain, and the expectation of IPT and team leads is to communicate continuously, schedule accurately, plan ahead and be responsive.  

The final topic for the first day of the summit was a presentation by Deligne and SSC Atlantic contracts competency lead Steve Harnig on the expectations of IPT leads in the contracts planning process. Harnig discussed how the contracts team has aligned with and is teaming closely with IPT leads. The key to improving timelines has been increasing communications and accountability, working from a single set of data, emphasizing quality assurance and ongoing training. “We are still on a journey,” Deligne added. “It’s all about having a good contracting plan and executing to it with minimal delays.”

Day Two summit guest speakers included Ruth Youngs Lew, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), who reviewed the National Defense Strategy, aligning  efforts to it and fundamentally transforming how to deliver a secure, stable and resilient IT infrastructure in support of warfighter lethality. Her advice to the IPT leads and members was to make diverse career choices, love your job, recognize and address your shortfalls, engage in continuous professional development and network with mentors and advocates. 

Brad Hoisington, logistics and life cycle engineering (LCE) competency lead, gave insights into the LCE role and his tasking to execute sustainment engineering support to IPTs. His competency now supports the complete project lifecycle to ensure delivered capabilities are combat ready. The LCE vision is to engrain engineering rigor into logistics and lifecycle processes and activities.

Don Sallee, information warfare research project/other transaction authority (IWRP/OTA) lead, and Lisa Rosenbaum, science and technology contracts lead, briefed summit attendees on how the OTA will speed acquisition while providing access to innovation with non-traditional partners. This flexible, streamlined acquisition tool offers opportunities for research, development and prototyping of underlying technologies advancing capabilities in the areas of cyber warfare, cloud computing, data science and analytic technologies, model-based systems engineering, on-demand manufacturing and embedded systems in the Internet of Things (IoT). “While speed is a critical element, reaching beyond the traditional DoD industrial base further into the commercial sector to capture new, innovative solutions is also a key element of the IWRP,” said Deligne.

Several panel discussions held during the summit provided a sharing of ideas and insights into warfighter environments and needs. A panel of SSC Atlantic detachment officers-in-charge, including Cmdr. Scott Thompson of Hampton Roads, Cmdr. Christopher Clotfelder from Naples, Lt. Cmdr. Carole Etherington from Bahrain, and Cmdr. Thomas DeLarge from New Orleans, discussed warfighter perspectives and was moderated by SSC Atlantic Executive Officer Cmdr. Lane Askew. Pete Reddy, SSC Atlantic chief engineer and engineering competency lead, moderated a panel of SSC Atlantic leaders in a discussion about technical growth at SSC Atlantic. A reverse panel of industry partners focused on future technologies and featured small business and other SSC Atlantic industry representatives. It was moderated by Harnig.

Chris Miller, SSC Atlantic executive director, wrapped up the summit March 22.  Noting today’s enemies do not fight according to traditional warfighting rules, Miller said it is more imperative than ever that IPTs execute projects quickly, and the rest of the SSC Atlantic team supports IPT efforts. “IPTs are our basis of maneuver, and making IPTs successful should be our North Star,” Miller said.

Leadership expectations of IPT leads are to have a plan, execute the plan and adjust to stay on the plan, Miller said. “You have to be an owner, not a renter. Communicate in all directions and empower your people. Get involved and understand all perspectives,” Miller said, adding “and never forget why you are here.”

SSC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR), cyber and information technology (IT) capabilities.

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