Visit informs new capability vision

Published on LTJG Michelle Tucker (author), Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus Stanley - USN (photographer)

Members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) engage in discussion with members of the information warfare (IW) department of Carrier Strike Group 11 during a visit aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).  (photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus S)
Members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) engage in discussion with members of the information warfare (IW) department of Carrier Strike Group 11 during a visit aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

The United States Carrier Strike Group 11 welcomed three members of the Royal Australian Navy for a 10-day visit in October aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during its deployment in the Arabian Gulf.

The purpose was for the Australians to observe and learn how the US Navy conducts information warfare to develop the Australian Navy’s own capability and foster a positive relationship between the two nations.

Commander Frank Cowan, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Deputy Information Warfare Commander said it was a valuable experience for all.

“Information warfare is a new capability within the Royal Australian Navy and our counterparts took the opportunity to visit Nimitz to learn how we conduct information warfare in an operational environment,” he said.

“The US Navy already has a great working relationship with the Royal Australian Navy. This visit helped build a common understanding of tactics and doctrine to further that interoperability.”

During the visit the Australian team engaged all the information warfare functional cells to discuss and understand inputs and outputs to support the information warfare commander. They observed the planning, preparation and its effects delivered to maintain information superiority over the adversary. 

Lieutenant Commander Mathew Buckley, Deputy Director of the Maritime Intelligence Support Center in Sydney said it was a valuable and positive experience.

“Being exposed to and understanding the US Navy model has allowed us to implement similar initiatives into the Royal Australian Navy for the further development of this important capability.

“We look forward to continuing to support the growth of this sphere of warfare in the Royal Australian Navy.

“In order to remain ahead of the adversary, it’s important for both navies to work together.

“The US and Australia rely upon one another to provide support to the Five Eyes nations. The partnership is critical to the success of security operations in the maritime environment, especially in areas of instability across the globe.”

Australia and the United States are part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, along with Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. These countries, with a similar common law legal inheritance, are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

“We have common values, goals and security concerns so it just makes sense for us to work together smoothly,” Commander Cowan said.

“With the US Navy’s continued budget austerity, interoperability increases capability across the fleet.” 

Information warfare brings a range of important warfighting elements together such as meteorology, oceanography, intelligence, communications, cyber operations, electronic warfare and information operations under one umbrella to enable assured command and control, battlespace awareness, and integrated fires. Commanders can then employ the information to deny an adversary's information environment while protecting and enhancing friendly operations.