Saturday, November 01, 2014

New Thinking for Tomorrow's Battlefields

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor, Commander Submarine Force Pacific, Public Affairs.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Sailors, junior officers and developers from around the nation attended the Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) Expo at the historic submarine base on board Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oct. 27-30, for a week long workshop aimed at new ideas and concepts for the fleet.

This TANG was co-sponsored by Commander, Undersea Surveillance (CUS); Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SUBPAC); Naval Sea Systems Command Maritime Surveillance Systems Program Office (NAVSEA PMS 485); and the Undersea Systems Program Office (PEO IWS 5).

It is the fifth in a series of TANG events designed to improve watch team efficiency, build smoother communication, create a stronger military community and boost skills in order to improve the capabilities of submarines, and ships and their crews in the fleet. The current event focused on process improvements for the Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems community.

"Your job is to use your experience, and tell us how to make the processes and more importantly the systems better so we can get better data to the decision makers," said Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, SUBPAC commander, addressing those gathered to kick-off the week's events. "It is imperative that you dig deep and recognize that the feedback that you provide will make it to the fleet. They enable us to get the right data to the guy that is making the decision quicker and allows him to make a better decision, and that's fundamentally what this is about."

The TANG events such as this one started in 2011, in an effort to harness views on technology to improve sonar and fire control systems.

Sawyer said that because of TANG events, there are improvements in those systems that can be seen in the fleet today.

Capt. Steve Harrison, major program manager for PEO IWS 5, believes the event will help the TANG attendees to come up with ways to rapidly implement new ideas into the fleet.

During the week, participants utilized foam core, cardboard, markers and sticky-notes to brainstorm clever ideas quickly throughout the room. The event included presentations, exercises, and reviews.

"The developers are here to watch these ideas and over the next year or so rapidly turn those ideas into another round of more advanced prototypes that Sailors and junior officers will try out," said Harrison. "Those ideas that work best are then introduced into our systems as quickly as two years."

Harrison said that they have used this design-thinking approach for submarine and surface ship sonar and combat systems over the past several years, and it has produced some great capabilities.

Harrison believes TANG design-thinking events help support the Chief of Naval Operations tenets of Warfighting First and Operate Forward, because these innovative capabilities will be pushed to forward-deployed warships based on Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall's Better Buying Power 3.0 initiatives, which emphasize achieving dominant capabilities through innovation and technical excellence.

Harrison added that the TANG design-thinking approach could really help solve many of the system problems we see in the Navy.

"Our Sailors and officers live with these systems for weeks and months on end while they are under way, so they really know the limitations of the systems and have been brainstorming on every watch, what they would do if they were in charge of development," said Harrison. "These TANG events provide a structured approach for the developers to listen to their great ideas, and we are constantly amazed at what they come up with."

Sonar Technician 2nd Class Adam Worzella, of the Naval Ocean Processing Facility in Dam Neck, Virginia, said he is excited to see the new challenges that will be implemented into the fleet from events like TANG.

"I think it is great," said Worzella. "It will definitely make it easier to implement new systems and make it a more fun in the process of trying to figure stuff out from people who have been in and seen all the systems that we currently have."