May Virtual Speaker Session Features Insightful Perspective from Tampa

May Virtual Speaker Session Features Insightful Perspective from Tampa, with Guest Speakers Captain Josh Himes (JICCENT CO) and Commander James Castleberry (SOCOM)

NIP hosted its second virtual monthly speaker series via teleconference on May 28, 2020, with 76 NIP members dialing in to hear the “Perspective from Tampa”. Captain Joshua Himes, Commanding Officer of the Joint Intelligence Center (Central Command), and Commander James Castleberry, J2 Navy Service Adviser, U.S. Special Operations Command, covered a range of topics from mission, priorities and manning to the impact of COVID on intelligence operations. NIP Chairman, Rear Admiral Tony Cothron (Retired) kicked off the hour with a NIP update, as Captain Bob Allen (Retired) moderated the talk and subsequent Q&A session.
CAPT Himes began his portion of the talk by reviewing CENTCOM’s missions and priorities, adding his thoughts on the navy intelligence investment into those two areas. Needless to say, there is never a dull moment in “Tampastan”.

CENTCOM’s primary mission is to direct and enable military operations and activities with allies / partners to increase regional security and stability in support of enduring U.S. interests in the Area of Responsibility (AOR). It is a complex and richly diverse AOR, certainly—the most energy-rich region in the world, with three critical maritime strategic chokepoints essential to energy, commerce, and the global economy, and home to three of the world's five major religions.

With a few exceptions, the majority of CAPT Himes’ time at JICCENT has been defined by the Iran threat and HQ focus on deterring Iran, which primarily means working with partners to deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapons and neutralizing Iran’s malign influence across the region. Other priorities include: resolving the conflict in Afghanistan; maintaining the campaign to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq; countering Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS); and addressing instability created by Displaced Persons and refugees. He emphasized that CENTCOM is in a period of transition, marked by balancing these existing operational missions with the National Defense Strategy priorities. In his view, four future imperatives that will be the hallmark of CENTCOM are: sustaining efforts against Violent Extremist Organizations (VEO); preventing WMD acquisition; working with regional partners toward greater stability; and countering growing Chinese and Russian influence in the AOR.

In contrast to CENTCOM’s geographic focus, SOCOM has a broader, global mission and priorities that emphasize low-cost, high precision options that offer disproportionately large strategic effects. CDR Castleberry discussed functional priorities such as innovation and investment in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Publicly Available Information, and Commercial Data Exploitation. He also addressed support to Information Support Operations (WEBOPS) and Data Science convergence with Analysis. CDR Castleberry walked through SOCOM’s Coordinating Authority role, laying the framework for collaborative analysis, assessment and planning in support of Defense Department goals, competing primarily below the threshold of armed conflict. SOCOM has also had to balance current Counter-VEO requirements with transforming to meet NDS Great Power Competition challenges.

CDR Castleberry and CAPT Himes transitioned to discussing the Naval Intelligence contribution to their respective Commands. CENTCOM has approximately 45 IWC officers across the J2 and Cyber elements, with a focus on targets, current intelligence, analysis and ISR. There are also around 70 enlisted billets within the J2. The goal is to provide two unique assignments during a 3-year tour, to possibly include time in the Joint Operations Center and forward deployment. SOCOM has 27 Intel members across the J2. CDR Castleberry emphasized opportunities that exist while at SOCOM for Master’s degrees, Joint Professional Military Education, and deployments to critical J2 SOF positions forward.

CDR Castleberry also addressed the importance of the service element responsibilities, to include talent management, fitness report coordination and mentoring. Both COCOMs rely on the service advisors to ensure the Navy team is postured for success across the headquarters. CAPT Himes reiterated how important this role is for taking care of the Navy team in the Joint Environment, with over 200 Navy personnel at CENTCOM.

In his final comments, CAPT Himes mentioned the current efforts to reinvigorate the Tampa NIP chapter with SOCOM, SOCCENT, and Tampa NIP leadership to include retired 1830 O-6’s Eric Aull, Paul Kennett, Rick Robson and Kevin Lerette. Pending COVID risks, the goal will be to set up an event for all interested in late June.

CDR Castleberry concluded by addressing SOCOM opportunities to innovate and immerse in a culture of excellence that enables exquisite analysis and assessments that are a trademark of Naval Intelligence.

A lively Q&A session followed Captain Himes’ and Commander Castleberry’s remarks before the session concluded. One question that was particularly interesting was: What are the most important lessons the IC should take from the CT fight, and how do you see those lessons apply to better enable us in the GPC fight? Captain Himes commented that the Intel Enterprise and Naval Intelligence are missing the mark if we don’t take advantage of the expertise and competencies being developed in this theater which are applicable to support the Great Power Conflict. He cited a few examples, to include target development, cyber warfare, operating in a degraded warfare environment, and the enduring value of OPINTEL

The Virtual Speaker Series will continue in June, with guest speaker RADM Mike Studeman, Indo-PACOM J2.