DAHLGREN, Va. –
Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) is like a school of fish acting as one larger fish – ten departments of both technical and business functions spanning two naval bases along the coast of Virginia work together to meet the center’s ultimate goal: to deliver warfare systems to protect our nation and defeat our nation’s adversaries. To best achieve this goal, leadership at NSWCDD created a five-point strategic plan, including one technical goal with five distinct thrust areas and four business goals.
Seamlessly moving along the lines of the technical and business departments are many of NSWCDD’s leaders, including Strategic and Computing Systems Department Head Frank Dixon. Dixon has a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering and a master’s degree in systems engineering from George Mason University. Dixon spent 20 years in the technical departments at NSWCDD before being selected to lead Corporate Operations, one of the three business departments within the warfare center division. After successfully leading business operations for nearly two years, Dixon transitioned back to the lead role of a technical department.
“NSWCDD is located in a very quiet, rural area of Virginia, but the impact of the work we do here can be felt around the world,” said Dixon. “Having served in multiple technical departments and now Corporate Operations has made me a better person and given me a thorough understanding of the work we do. Every job on the base fills a critical role in supporting our Navy and our Nation. I am proud of the people I work with and the work I do to serve our country.”
The Strategic and Computing Systems Department’s work falls into several key areas: strategic systems (like end-to-end support for submarine-launched ballistic missiles), combat computing system design and integration, critical infrastructure, mission assurance, and cybersecurity and strike weapons systems like the Tomahawk missile systems. With a combined government and contractor workforce, Dixon leads more than a thousand scientists and engineers to accomplish the department’s mission.
“We are intentional about the value of the Corporate Operations Department head having some experience in a technical department,” said NSWCDD Deputy Technical Director Darren Barnes. “The thought process is that the department head understands the day-to-day technical work happening within a technical department.”
The same process works in reverse as well – with the experience leading Corporate Operations in his back pocket, Dixon is “intimately familiar” with how certain processes work, which makes it easier to reach back into the corporate operations department for any issues, according to Barnes.
In recognition for his work leading Corporate Operations from August 2019 to November 2021, Dixon received the Department of the Navy’s Civilian Service Medal, which is equal to the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
“When the NSWCDD Strategic Plan was written, leadership recognized the importance of having strong business operations to support the technical work done at Dahlgren. Four of the five goals in the plan were led out of Corporate Operations: IT Modernization, Workforce Development, Communication and Business,” said Dixon. “I took the responsibility of leading these goals with pride. The work done in Corporate Operations is critically important to Dahlgren’s mission.”