Though the title of this article may lead one to believe that I am going to write a critique of the subject document, alas, I am not.  What I do hope to do is to emphasize the importance of such a plan, summarize its contents, and then pose the question:  “How are we doing?”  Though formal progress reviews will be conducted by the staff, this forum allows a more candid, open dialogue for assessing where we are and where we need to go — by those who are affected most (read: our readers).

Where are we going?

There is an interesting exchange (depicted above) in Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in which Alice and the Cheshire cat discuss which way she should go to get somewhere.  She knows not where she wants to go, only that she get somewhere.  After some back-and-forth, the Cheshire Cat concludes the short conversation by telling Alice that she is sure to get somewhere “if only she walk long enough.”  In time, this exchange has been paraphrased by the somewhat familiar quote:  “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  And indeed it will. 

The purpose of plans and goals and direction is to prevent the futility of wandering aimlessly toward an unknown or unclear destination.  This is the very premise behind the concept of Commander’s Guidance.  Without guidance, a commander’s staff would just continue walking long enough until they arrive somewhere – and they will — though that somewhere may not be where the commander intended.  With guidance, a staff is given direction and purpose.  They know the destination or desired end-state and in some cases are given parameters in which to navigate towards that destination.  In nautical parlance, we commonly refer to this as “rudder orders” — and sometimes, if required, “course correction.”

Commander’s guidance may be verbal or written and can come in many forms:  orders, plans, roadmaps, goals, guiding principles, etc.  Last year, VADM Tighe, Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. TENTH Fleet published her commander’s guidance in the form of FCC/TENTH Fleet’s Strategic Plan 2015-2020.  This document outlines strategic goals designed to achieve a specific end-state.  That end-state, as deduced from the community’s vision, is two-fold:  (1) freedom of action and decision superiority while denying the same to our adversaries and (2) winning in the domains of cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, and space.

How will we get there?

To realize this vision, the plan outlines five strategic goals with accompanying initiatives and 18-month progress indicators.  Though these goals can be ends in and of themselves, they also serve as a means towards realizing our vision (i.e. how we get there).  The accompanying strategic initiatives and 18-month progress indicators are intended to focus our efforts by identifying critical actions and providing “measurable indicators of progress.”  For brevity’s sake, I will give a brief description of just the goals here.  A link to the entire document is provided below.
Goal 1:  Operate the Network as a Warfighting PlatformDefend Navy networks, communication, and space systems, ensure availability, and, when necessary, fight through them to achieve operational objectives.
Goal 2:  Conduct Tailored Signals IntelligenceMeet the evolving SIGINT needs of Navy commanders through more tailored operations, while continuing to deliver on NSA needs.
Goal 3:  Deliver Warfighting Effects through CyberspaceAdvance our effects-delivery capabilities to support a full spectrum of operations, including cyber, electromagnetic maneuver, and information operations.
Goal 4:  Create Shared Cyber Situational AwarenessCreate a shared cyber Common Operating Picture that evolves to full, immediate awareness of our network and everything that happens on it.
Goal 5:  Establish and Mature Navy’s Cyber Mission ForcesStand up 40 highly expert Cyber Mission Teams and plan for the sustainability of these teams over time.

Recognizing that “many organizations struggle with executing their strategic plans” — and FCC/TENTH Fleet intending not to be one of them – the document concludes with a pointed, and very necessary, discussion of execution management.  This discussion directs:  (1) the development of a detailed execution plan, (2) the conduct of regular progress reviews, and (3) the fostering of productive partnerships.  This direction serves to translate the five strategic goals “into measurable, focused results;” ensure we are able to “adjust to the evolving environment;” and recognizes that we cannot go it alone.

How are we doing?

Since its publication, commands throughout the FCC/TENTH Fleet domain have turned to.  All over the world, TENTH Fleet task forces have developed detailed execution plans consisting of subordinate goals that support the five strategic goals — all in an effort to collectively arrive at our desired end-state.  Our guidance is clear.  Unlike Alice, we know where we must go and the goals necessary to get there have been set.

So… how are we doing? 
Do you agree with wherewe are going?
Do you agree with how we are getting there?  Are our rudder orders clear?
How does naval cryptology contribute?  Does it?
Do we need a course correction?