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The Complete DON Innovation Vision

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By Lieutenant Commander Rollie Wicks, U.S. Navy | February 16, 2018

I had the honor of serving as an innovation advisor on the Department of the Navy (DoN) Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC) from 2015 to 2016. The purpose of the NIAC, which is a program run by the DON’s Office of Strategy and Innovation, is to provide top cover for naval innovators conducting research on cutting edge concepts that can help build the best Navy and Marine Corps of the future.


Naval Hospital Jacksonville now offers some health visits as virtual visits, thanks to a new app. Navy Medicine is conducting its world-wide pilot of Navy Care at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. Navy Care enables patients to have a virtual visit with a clinician, by using a smartphone, tablet, or computer. It's private, secure, and free. Navy Care offers care where the patients are, and where the providers are.

Every year, new technologies emerge that could change how individuals, companies and even military commands operate. For the Navy and Marine Corps, one of those technologies is the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS)-an Office of Naval Research-led program that can make any rotary-wing aircraft capable of fully autonomous flight, and landing on an unprepared field. The program is intended to help save lives by enabling autonomous resupply to Marines in the field, even in contested environments.

Imagine a Marine infantry battalion going into battle, Coast Guard ships conducting a drug interdiction op, or a carrier strike group fighting for sea control all with the knowledge that the tactics they will be using have been tried and succeeded in more than 100 million executions of the exact scenario they are about to enter. This may sound like the introduction to a science fiction novel, but the technology is a reality today and has been demonstrated in the world of competitive eSports with stunning results. The advancement of artificial intelligence and powerful computers have given programmers the ability to translate the dynamic and unpredictable nature of military operations into variables in a simulation that can be run millions of times in a single day.


The U.S. Navy Information Warfare (IW) pavilion concluded the three-d​ay premier naval conference and exposition on the West Coast, WEST 2018, Feb. 8. This year, the IW pavilion on the exhibition floor demonstrated the Navy's commitment to warfighting in the information age through the use of speakers, panels, subject matter experts and capability displays from organizations including the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (OPNAV N2N6), Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. Tenth Fleet (FCC/C10F), Navy Information Forces Command (NAVIFOR), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and others.

“The pace at which potential competitors are moving demands that we in turn increase the speed at which we act. Our advantage is shrinking – we must reverse this trend.” – Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s white paper, The Future Navy, May 2017. SSC Pacific is following Richardson’s lead and is working to ‘reverse this trend,’ and increase the fleet’s advantage. Most recently, SSC Pacific participated in WEST 2018, the leading naval conference and exposition on the West Coast. The three-day conference took place at the San Diego Convention Center, Feb 6-8, where government, military and industry leaders came together to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies and discuss how new operational concepts can strengthen the fleet’s warfighting capabilities, now and into the future.

When Rear Adm. Christian “Boris” Becker took the reins as commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) in March 2017 he said his top priority was the fleet. A year later, it’s still a top priority. He spoke recently with C4ISRNET about recruiting cyber talent, his role in evaluating the McCain collision and the rise of data scientists.

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