Changes in adversaries, technology advances, drive Army's Electronic Warfare Proponent
February 6, 2009
lectronic warfare has been around since there have been electronics. Hollywood movies have painted society's historical view of EW with the good guys intercepting the bad guys' radio signals and each side trying to jam each other's radar systems. Today's EW reality is far more technologically complex and constantly evolving.
The job of providing doctrinal structure to the U.S. Army for all things EW rests on the shoulders of the U.S. Army Computer Network Operations and Electronic Warfare Proponent at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
EW is "our (the U.S. Army) ability to use the electromagnetic spectrum and also to affect our enemies' ability to use the electromagnetic spectrum by either attacking their ability or denying their ability through the electromagnetic spectrum," said Lt. Col. John Bircher, USACEWP deputy director for Futures,
A key component of the USACEWP's doctrinal guidance is Field Manual 3-36, Electronic Warfare in Operations, due for release in late February.
USACEWP Director Col. Wayne Parks said FM 3-36 is the Army's first keystone EW document of its kind. Previous EW doctrine was localized to divisions and "corps and above" or was technically oriented. The new doctrine is the first effort to build an overarching concept of EW operations that is nested in overall operational Army doctrine as described in FM 3-0, Operations.
The USACEWP was born in 2006 after several years of changes and advances on the EW front.
"From 2003-2005 we started to see our adversaries using the spectrum against us in ways we never predicted," Bircher said. "Radio controlled IEDs, cellular communications, the Internet ... all using the electromagnetic spectrum in ways we weren't prepared to deal with.
"In 2006, the Department of the Army authorized the formation of the EW Proponent," Bircher said, "taking the responsibility of electronic warfare for ground forces out of the Information Operations arena."
In 2007 DA authorized the merging of the Computer Network Operations function with the EW and formed what is now the USACEWP. The joining of the two disciplines grew from the Army's increasing need to understand, operate in and manipulate cyberspace.
"In the operational environment, the lines between CNO and EW are blurred," Bircher said. "We can use EW to disable our enemies' cellular phone device or we can use CNO to deny the device's access to its network."
"Do we use CNO or EW to deny our adversary, and does it matter to the tactical commander'" Bircher continued, "and in our conceptual research we found that it didn't matter. What's important is controlling the data, the bandwidth and the electromagnetic spectrum."
Staying on the leading edge of cyber communications technology is a daunting task, for not only the USACEWP but for communications professionals across both military and civilian organizations. To keep up with the latest, the proponent has reached out to form partnerships with other leading communications entities.
Parks said the USACEWP took a big step toward cementing these partnerships when they hosted an information and cyberspace symposium in September.
"The symposium was successful in leveraging the expertise and perspectives from subject matter experts across the joint, interagency, and intergovernmental communities as well as academia and industry," he said.
Some key participants in the symposium included representatives from Big-12 universities and major telecommunications firms. Parks said the relationships formed with these partners give the USACEWP the luxury of "articulating our concepts and bouncing them off of our partners, and vice-versa. The relationships work both ways."
USACEWP will continue to lead the Army's CNO and EW doctrine and development, but soon will have a new look and a new name.
According to a Combined Arms Center - Capability Development Integration Directorate release, "The USACEWP will transition to the TRADOC Capabilities Manager Computer Network Operations Electronic Warfare on Feb. 1 due to CAC-CDID's internal refinement. This refinement will distribute CNO and EW expertise, previously restricted to just the USACEWP, throughout the entire CAC-CDID organization, thus making the overall development process more efficient."