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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2015

Chief of Naval Operations: Here's What We Need for the Future Force

By David Smalley, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert outlined his thoughts Feb. 4 on three science and technology objectives for the Navy and Marine Corps of the future, at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology (S&T) EXPO in Washington, D.C.

Speaking before nearly 3,000 attendees from across government, academia and industry, Greenert charged his audience to reduce reliance on gunpowder; increase stamina for underwater unmanned vehicles' power and propulsion systems; and increase focus on cybersecurity.

"Number one, you've got to get us off gunpowder," said Greenert, noting that Office of Naval Research-supported weapon programs like Laser Weapon System (LaWS) and the Electromagnetic Railgun are vital to the future force. "We will have an incredibly deep magazine when we bring [those weapons] in."

Weapons like LaWS have a virtually unlimited magazine, only constrained by power and cooling capabilities onboard the vessel carrying them. In addition, Greenert noted the added safety for Sailors and Marines that will come from reducing dependency on gunpowder-based munitions.

"Probably the biggest vulnerability of a ship is its magazine, because that's where all the explosives are," he said.

He also cited the tremendous cost savings offered by, for instance, laser weapons fired at a dollar per shot, or low-cost Electromagnetic Railgun projectiles, versus needing to rely on million-dollar missiles, in some cases without the same range, for all threats and missions.

Greenert's second challenge for the S&T community is to develop "greater stamina" in unmanned underwater vehicle propulsion systems, to maintain naval dominance in the undersea domain.

"I need them compact and reliable in their power and propulsion, but I also need them safe," he said.

And, as the Ohio-class submarines near replacement age, Greenert noted that increased range and endurance for unmanned systems will be vital for the future fleet with the overall number of submarines projected to decrease.

Greenert's final S&T objective centers on cybersecurity, which he said is something that keeps him up at night.

"I need you to lock your IT doors," he told the EXPO attendees. "You do it at home, and you need to keep that mindset at work.

"Cybersecurity is a key requirement for all our systems and weapons."

He encouraged scientists and engineers to include security in the initial design of everything they do, rather than trying to add security measures later.

The CNO also discussed the history of game-changing technologies that have come from the Naval S&T community, including GPS, advanced radar and quiet propulsion capabilities. He continued on to say, "we continue to rely on you."

The host of the EXPO, Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Mat Winter, introduced the CNO and spoke about the importance of Naval S&T research for the future force-including the essential partnerships between the Naval Research Enterprise, academia and industry.

The Naval Future Force Science and Technology EXPO is the Navy's premier science and technology event, showcasing some of the latest cutting-edge research being undertaken by the Office of Naval Research. It brings together thousands of participants to learn and share ideas on technologies that can help support the warfighter of today and tomorrow.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs more than 1,000 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.