Rear Admiral Mike Brookes Outlines Office of Naval Intelligence Priorities at AFCEA WEST 2024

Story by Amanda Schuler Zepp 
Office of Naval Intelligence  

SAN DIEGO, Calif.— Rear Admiral Mike Brookes, commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence, outlined his strategy for ONI to deliver maritime decision advantage to warfighters across the globe during his remarks at the AFCEA WEST 2024 Conference on Feb. 13, 2024.

Speaking to an audience in the Navy Information Warfare Pavilion, Brookes described the importance of ONI’s mission to the U.S. Navy, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community and how ONI’s expertise promotes the nation’s prosperity and security, deters aggression, and provides options to leaders. He emphasized the vastness of the maritime domain and explained how disruptions there can have major impacts on everything from global trade to data transferred by cables crisscrossing the world’s seafloors.

“If you’re a citizen of this nation, even if you reside in Omaha, Nebraska…your daily life is affected by what occurs in the maritime domain,” Brookes said.

Brookes went on to describe how ONI’s knowledge of adversary actions and intent in the maritime domain are critically important to U.S. Navy operations today and to the fleet of the future.

Russia, he noted, remains the greatest threat to the United States in the undersea domain, and Iranian and Huthi aggression in the Middle East is destabilizing commercial shipping and the region in general.

On China, the United States’ top pacing challenge, Brookes emphasized the need to balance the potential for a conflict in the near future while focusing on deterring Chinese aggression.

“While focused on deterring conflict, the U.S. Navy spends a lot of time thinking about and preparing to defeat aggression from the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. If a conflict occurs, it will be a maritime fight.”

Brookes explained that ONI is organized to empower warfighters and decision makers and noted that its assessments of adversary systems help to minimize technical surprise for U.S. forces and maximize acquisition investments.

“…We’re operating across the spectrum of conflict. In peacetime, we delineate adversary weapons systems and capabilities in order to inform the Navy’s development and acquisition process. In crisis, we seek to identify opportunities, activities, and investments to deter adversaries. And, in the event conflict comes, we are determined to provide war-winning intelligence.”

Brookes’ strategy to deliver maritime decision advantage is aligned with Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti’s “America’s Warfighting Navy” strategic priorities, which focus on warfighting, warfighters, and foundation. ONI meets the CNO’s intent by delivering timely analysis (warfighting), resourcing and training experienced analysts (warfighters), and the physical infrastructure that is critical to mission success (foundation). Brookes prioritizes ONI’s efforts through three lines of effort: know the adversary, deter the adversary, and build warfighting advantage.

“Knowing the adversary and how they will fight will be crucial in the event of a conflict.” Brookes also noted, “We are driving intelligence partnerships and identifying opportunities to expose malign adversary activities below the threshold of conflict to enable countervailing fleet operations, activities, and investments. The intent is to deter by identifying opportunities to expose and counter those gray zone activities.”

Building warfighting advantage, Brookes emphasized, is accomplished through hiring and retention, relying on the expertise of reserves, delivering resilient and ready JWICS networks that the fleet relies on, and providing easy access to ONI’s insight and data the warfighter needs to prevail.

“I want each of our adversaries to wake up every morning, calculate the risk, and decide that today is not the day to pick a fight with the most powerful Navy in the world, the U.S. Navy. ONI has a critical role in frustrating their calculations, working with allies and industry partners to ensure our adversaries never get the solution they desire.”

The Office of Naval Intelligence delivers war-winning maritime expertise that promotes our nation’s prosperity and security, deters aggression, and provides options to our leaders. For more information on the Office of Naval Intelligence, visit