Over the last several years, the U.S. Army has worked pointedly to build up its electronic warfare capabilities. From the early days of only having small groups of electronic warfare soldiers that ventured to counter radio-controlled improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army has since retooled its efforts. The service is pursuing a broad campaign of development, is continuing to identify capability gaps and has successfully fielded more advanced tools to operate and dominate in the electromagnetic spectrum.
The U.S. Defense Department’s new electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) strategy will fall short of countering enemy EMS activities without specific organizational and process oversight, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO is recommending greater oversight and specific metrics be built around designated leadership to ensure that the department’s own goals are met.
The complexity of multidomain operations presents both challenges and opportunities in the effort to obtain an information advantage. To overcome these challenges and exploit the opportunities to gain an edge, the Army is modernizing.
The U.S. Air Force is on track to provisionally stand up its first and only Spectrum Warfare Wing (SWW)— known as the 350th SWW—this spring. The organization will be responsible for electronic warfare and so-called electromagnetic spectrum missionware. The 350th SWW’s role will run the gamut of providing such capabilities along the development, hosting, integration, testing and distribution phases, reported Lt. Gen. Chris Weggeman, USAF, deputy commander, Air Combat Command (ACC).
The U.S. is facing an increasingly congested, constrained and contested electromagnetic spectrum. Adversaries are challenging the United State’s dominance across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains, which threatens our reliance on the spectrum. And because the United States depends on electromagnetic spectrum for much more than warfighting purposes, our nation’s economic wellbeing is at stake, says Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, has been awarded a ceiling $90,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to obtain essential analysis documentation, to include work closely related to inherently governmental functions, in the domains of engineering, research, development, modeling and simulation and test and evaluation in the area of electromagnetic spectrum superiority in a capabilities-based system of systems context. Work will be performed in Laurel, Maryland, and is expected to be completed August 20, 2025. Fiscal year 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $1,400,000 are being obligated at the time of award.
For three years, the U.S. Army has been asking questions about how to converge cyberspace operations, electronic warfare and spectrum management capabilities at the corps level and below to deny, degrade, destroy and manipulate enemy capabilities. Now, officials say, they are drawing closer to answers.
In 2015, the service created a pilot program known as Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activity (CEMA) Support to Corps and Below. The CEMA concept integrates elements from offensive and defensive cyber, electronic warfare, and intelligence into expeditionary teams that support tactical units.
Work is needed to improve temporal, spectral and information understanding within the layers of the cyber domain to facilitate useful cyber-spectral and information maneuver. These advances could be incorporated into tactics, techniques and procedures as well as tactical and operational systems to enhance the overall military commanders’ decision process to achieve information dominance.
Most of the tactical cyberspace domain is spectrum-dependent and administered solely at the physical layer. Currently, warfighters cannot comprehend, much less maneuver within, a space that is inaccessible to them because they are not in a dimensionality to understand it. They operate in a cyber-spectral flatland.
URS Federal Services Inc., Germantown, Maryland, is being awarded a $63,339,405 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that will include provisions for the issuance of both cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-priced task orders for field office technical support services in planning, retention, protection, and effective use of electromagnetic spectrum resources in support of the Navy and Marine Corps Spectrum Center. The contract will include a five-year ordering period with no option periods.
Information warfare is an aggressive game of soccer where not only are all the fans on the field with the players, but no one is wearing uniforms.
— Sandra Jontz (@jontz_signalmag) February 22, 2017
Safeguarding the electromagnetic spectrum is critical to success throughout the battlespace, but the ethos and resources needed to secure and defend this vital medium are lacking.
The vulnerabilities from electromagnetic interference (EMI) affect the entire electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), requiring improved mitigation and resolution regardless of spectral bands, electronic systems or organizations. Although researchers have spent decades mastering the use of the spectrum, often pushing the envelope on capabilities, there has not been sufficient constructive action to overcome interference.
The Defense Department’s futuristic research agency has finalized its contest plans—backed by nearly $4 million in prizes—for the creation of a radio that can withstand wireless congestion.
It’s an ambitious competition led by the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) to expand the communications capacity of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially at a time when the explosion of wireless devices and the dawning of the Internet of Things era has placed such a heavy demand for access to such a finite resource.
Alion Science and Technology Corp., Burr Ridge, Illinois; ANDRO Computational Solutions LLC, Rome, New York; Calvert Systems Engineering Inc., Prince Frederick, Maryland; CoSolutions Inc., Sterling, Virginia; Harris Corp. (previously Exelis Inc.), Herndon, Virginia; Expression Networks LLC, Washington, D.C.; Freedom Technologies Inc., Arlington, Virginia; and URS Federal Services Inc., Germantown, Maryland, were competitively awarded a multiple award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for operational spectrum support, electromagnetic environmental effects (E3) and spectrum engineering, strategic spectrum planning, and research and analysis for emerging spectrum technologies for the Defense Spectrum Organization.
The realization that the U.S. military is losing its comfortable superiority over the airwaves has propelled the Defense Department to transform the electromagnetic spectrum into a new warfighting domain. This endeavor comes on the heels of the revolutionary doctrine change that established the cyber warfare domain not even a full decade ago.
Until now, cyberthreats have overshadowed electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) concerns. Chiefly, serious cyberthreats to U.S. commerce and national security caused by rapid technological changes siphoned attention and dollars from other domain coffers, including funding to improve the use of EMS.
Slide over cyber commands, the Defense Department could bear a new warfighting domain. The DOD is tinkering with the notion of recognizing the electromagnetic spectrum as a new warfare domain.
Such a policy change would come on the heels of the paramount decision in 2006 when the DOD added a fifth domain—cyberspace—to its arsenal. Though it has been a decade, cyber warfare is an area in which operators still wrestle with daunting guidelines to carry out warfare in the manmade field.
Given that, is the Pentagon ready for a sixth domain?
Will cyberwarriors no longer need the Internet?
The answer might be yes—in the future. For now, warfighters can stealthily wipe out an adversary and cause no physical destruction, thanks to electronic warfare (EW). EW has emerged as a warfighting domain where covert adversaries battle for the advantage. It is a powerful tool in the U.S. military’s arsenal that could prove a critical asset to win conflicts and become the weapon of choice for warfare in general. And technological improvements on the horizon could provide capabilities once reserved for science-fiction movies.
Only those who fully comprehend EW’s capabilities will control the battlespace of the future.
General Dynamics Information Technology Incorporated, Fairfax, Virginia, is being awarded a contract potentially valued at nearly $36 million to provide engineering services supporting the effects of electromagnetic (EM) radiation and EM spectrum. Support will provide actual site surveys at physical locations as well as modeling and simulation of sites and equipment sets. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, South Carolina, is the contracting activity.
In an overpopulated city, on a small land mass, you can only stretch the living space so far before inhabitants are stacked one on top of the other. Such is the electromagnetic spectrum, a finite space in which the airwaves are literally bulging at the seams. It's now becoming more possible, however, to make those "living spaces" in the spectrum more efficient, thanks to a new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) dynamic spectrum access (DSA) radio technology. The DSA radio technology developed under DARPA's Next Generation (XG) program is the focus of Technology Editor George I.