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Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Chlebo, USN

MS in Space Systems Operations ‘23

Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Chlebo graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Quantitative Economics in 2013. Upon commissioning, Chlebo was designated as a Surface Warfare-Information Professional Option Officer. In 2013, Chlebo was assigned to USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) in Yokosuka, Japan, as her initial surface warfare duty station. Upon completion of her first operational tour, Chlebo was selected to laterally transfer to the Informational Professional community in 2015. Following her first IP tour, Chlebo reported to Amphibious Squadron One (CPR-1) embarked onboard the USS ESSEX (LHD-2) home ported in San Diego in 2017. There she served as the CPR-1 Staff communications officer, completing work-ups and the 2018 deployment. Returning from deployment in 2019, Chlebo reported to Tactical Training Group Pacific (TTGP) where she served as the Networks Operations Officer, and Live Virtual Construct Install Coordinator.

Chlebo is currently serving as a master’s degree student at the Naval Postgraduate School in the Space Systems Operations program. One of the first to be selected for lateral transfer to the Maritime Space Officer community, she will report to Space Command’s Joint Integrated Space Team (JIST) at Indo-Pacific Command in Camp Smith, HI, in July 2023. Her personal Awards include Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2) in addition to two campaign and other unit awards.

NPS is actively involved in leveraging both DOD and commercial opportunities in order to assist in achieving Navy objectives. Buy-in from the student base to work on operationally relevant theses is critical to the ability of various departments and research groups within NPS to continue to secure the proper funding and opportunities to make a real impact on the fleet. 

What has been the most impactful about your time at NPS? What is your strongest takeaway from NPS as you prepare to return to the Fleet?

The ability to be exposed to relevant commercial initiatives within the space domain, tied to military and DOD objectives in both unclassified and classified settings, has been invaluable for growth in a field that undergoes rapid change.

Can you give us a short summary of your research and what challenge it aims to solve? How would you like to see the research continued or applied as a solution?

My research strives to establish a workable SysML (Systems Modeling Language) framework that will enable the specific C5ISR-T capabilities of any naval unit to be programmed into wargames. Additionally, my framework will tie spectrum and SATCOM reliance to each composite warfare commander (CWC) within a strike group. Through this linkage, operators would be able to see the immediate impact on mission capability, unique to each CWC. Currently, fleet units are not built out with enough fidelity to provide actionable feedback to decision-makers. If implemented, wargames would be able to report on and display the effects of satellite or frequency negation and its impact on a tasked mission or individual unit.


This work is really just the tip of the iceberg, as definitions and capabilities are flexed for different missions or use cases. Ideally, my framework will create an adaptable base for future academic efforts or for contracted work to adapt as required for various levels of implementation. These models can be incorporated to feed tactical-level training and certification scenarios, or enhanced to provide additional fidelity to strategic-level wargames that define our OPLANS.

What impact could your research have for the DOD and national security?

At this time, strategic level wargames have relatively high fidelity for ground and space based architecture, but there is no fusion with the fleet. Inclusion of fleet/unit specific C5ISR spectrum reliance could enhance decision superiority and have a very real impact on strategic plans.

As a Maritime Space Officer, which emerging space technologies do you think will have the greatest impact on maritime space operations, and how do you envision these technologies being integrated and implemented to improve safety, efficiency, and effectiveness?  

Notable technological advancements are made on an almost routine basis within the commercial sector. The ability for the Armed Forces to rapidly, efficiently, and securely leverage these emerging capabilities will prove invaluable to ensuring our ability to continue to operate a competitive space domain. Rapid acquisition of a variety of multi-purpose packages able to be installed and launched via commercial assets is one way for the DOD to gain a bit of depth on the bench for space-based capabilities, however these efforts must be matched in ground-based infrastructure.

What challenges do you anticipate when it comes to the integration of space-based capabilities into maritime operations in terms of communication, data management, and coordination among different units and systems?

Interoperability should be a chief concern and initiative as we bring new capabilities into the fold. We must be able to readily integrate the applicable hardware and software to enhance current capabilities in the maritime environment. The STtNG (Satellite Terminal transportable Non Geostationary) terminal initiative is a great example of an emerging capability able to be readily adopted onto various platforms; however, for optimal use it cannot be left as a stand-alone system – efforts must be made to securely integrate this service into onboard networks. Increased availability of data, and increased spectrum redundancy can help the Navy to achieve its objectives for distributed maritime operations and expeditionary advanced basing operations.

With rising threats and increasing dependence on space-based systems, our nation's space strategy must shift away from exquisite satellites to a more robust and proliferated architecture.What do you think NPS needs in order to be successful in researching and delivering technologies and capabilities that enhance the DOD’s space-related operations? How does NPS’ robust space systems academic programs support collaboration with industry partners that are investing heavily in space technologies? 

NPS is actively involved in leveraging both DOD and commercial opportunities in order to assist in achieving Navy objectives. Buy-in from the student base to work on operationally relevant theses is critical to the ability of various departments and research groups within NPS to continue to secure the proper funding and opportunities to make a real impact on the fleet. 

The NPS SSAG program is unique in that students are able to gain exposure to a wide range of commercial capabilities through industry tours. Additionally, I have been able to participate in the semi-annual SLaMTIME (SatCom LEO and MEO Technical Interchange Meeting) conferences that aim to foster innovative ideas and meaningful engagement between the military and commercial sector to meet the needs of today’s, and hopefully tomorrow’s, warfighters.

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