News Feature | December 13, 2016

Pentagon Set To Unveil First-Of-Its-Kind Electronic Warfare Strategy

By Jof Enriquez
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) says it is ready to unveil, and share with military officials and defense contractors in the next two months, its high-level electronic warfare (EW) base strategy document, pending the signature of U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Foreign allies and select press representatives also will have a chance to look at the report.

“The base strategy document is very deliberately an unclassified document,” Pentagon official Bill Conley told the Association of Old Crows EW conference recently, reported Breaking Defense. “And the reason for that is it allows us to share it broadly on the industry side, with our partners, with our allies, and say this, no kidding, (is) where we are going with our investments into electronic warfare.”

Conley co-chairs the Electronic Warfare Executive Committee (EW EXCOM), which was formed in March 2015 to translate electromagnetic experimentation into actual capabilities being deployed. One suggested impetus for the EW EXCOM's creation was Russia's reported use of sophisticated EW capabilities in Ukraine and Syria.

A DOD study of EW concluded that the department had "lost focus on electronic warfare at the programmatic and strategic level," Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work wrote in a March 2015 memo directing the creation of the committee, reported FCW.

Two annexes of the Pentagon's base EW strategy document – an implementation plan and a “roadmap” of desired future EW capabilities – are classified. The unclassified report, however, indicates the Defense Department's response to regain advantage in EW.

According to Defense Systems, key elements of the unclassified base strategy report includes discussions on: increasing EW attack technology, integrating cost concerns, “hardening” weapons and training, and integrating new EW technologies with existing Army, Navy, and Air Force emerging EW weapons — such as the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Jammer, Army vehicle-mounted EW, and Air Force integration of EW into its fleet of F-15s.

“In equipping our forces, we plan to develop advanced electronic attack, advanced electronic warfare support, harden our kill-chains with electronic protection and invest in electromagnetic battle management to manage the numerous assets in the battlespace,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger Cabiness told Defense Systems.

“Hardening the kill-chain,” for example, can involve the use of EW tactics to prevent an armed U.S. drone from being “hacked,” “jammed,” or taken over by an enemy, according to the publications. EW defenses can secure radar signals, protect weapons guidance technologies, and thwart attacks on larger platforms, such as ships, fighter jets, and tanks.

The base strategy, however, does not settle the debate over whether the electromagnetic spectrum should be considered a “domain” of military operations alongside land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, Conley said, though intensive study of that question is underway, reports Breaking Defense.

Competition for scarce electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is increasing, driven by a growing military and civilian demand for connected devices.