Sill offers EW course
February 20, 2009
Military intelligence analyst Sgt. 1st Class Debra Tanacea took the Army Operational Electronic Warfare Course because she believed it would increase her knowledge in electronic warfare on her deployments and help her communicate better with her co-worker civilian engineers in the electronic warfare field.
"I will be able to share with them (co-workers) the Army thinking and the way the Army conducts operations so they'll have a better understanding," said Tanacea, who works at the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
Earned the 1J skill identifier
Tanacea was one of 39 Soldiers and civilians to complete the six-week AOEW Course Feb. 13 at the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill. Graduates earned the 1J skill identifier, which qualifies them to be electronic warfare officers usually working at the brigade level, who integrate electronic warfare into operations.
"The school is excellent. I think the instructors are really great because they all have diversified backgrounds," Tanacea said.
The AOEW Course, which graduated its 12th class since 2006, is one of the service's four new electronic warfare courses at Fort Sill. The second of three pilot courses is under way for officers in the EW career field, or Functional Area 29. And, courses will be offered beginning April 1 for warrant officers and enlisted Soldiers in EW career fields, said Lt. Col. James Looney, director of Training and Doctrine - Electronic Warfare at the Fire Centers of Excellence.
Plans for 1,500 EW personnel
The Army plans to train more than 1,500 electronic warfare personnel over the next three years. Eventually, more than 3,700 EW specialists will work in the 29-series career field, Looney said.
Electronic warfare officers operate in the electromagnetic spectrum battlespace, which is something one cannot see or touch, said Eric Lofton, AOEW course manager.
"We use it (electromagnetic spectrum) in everyday life when we pick up a telephone, when we turn on a television. Anything that emits any type of electronic signal utilizes the spectrum," Lofton said. Battlefield examples include, radar, radio communications, infrared signals and cell phones.
The EW officer is an expert in the threats of electronic warfare and how to mitigate those, said Wayne Ingalls, an instructor in the AOEW Course.
"They're not pushing any buttons making things go. They are a staff officer, who is able to understand the situation in terms of the threat and then coordinate and how to request help
things like as electronic attack jamming," Ingalls said.
The EWOs work as part of an Electronic Attack Team and integrate the efforts of the communication, or signal Soldiers, and military intelligence Soldiers, who work in the Electronic Protect, and Electronic Support teams.
Looney compared the EWO integrator's role to that of a field artillery fire support coordinator, who draws together fire, such as cannons, rockets, mortars, close air support and Naval gunfire. Similarly, the EWO integrates and synchronizes the entire electronics warfare teams' capabilities, he said.
The AOEW Course has an extremely challenging curriculum, which begins with an overview of basic electronic theory, fundamentals of electronic warfare and the EW mindset, said Sam Houston, course manager for the AOEW, and FA-29 courses.
Training was also provided on Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare, or the CREW device, which is placed on virtually all U.S. military wheeled-vehicles in theater.
"The intent of CREW is to have an electronic bubble around our vehicles to prevent the enemy from detonating Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices as we come down the road," Looney said. RCIEDS are only part of the EW picture, he said.
Classroom discussions were also a big part of the learning, Lofton said.
"The students are like a sponge receiving all this good information and they want to know: 'OK, what can I do now, what can I do better and what's expected of me''" he said.
Students also participated in video teleconferences to hear the latest from EW Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, Lofton said.
"We get the most recent tactics, techniques and procedures and emerging threats," he said. The VTCs are invaluable because many of the students will be deploying.
The course culminated with a practical exercise with students having to come up with an operational plan in two scenarios <m> one at the brigade level and the other at division level, Houston said. The students had to plan and organize their response and advise commanders. For example, they coordinated electronic attack aircraft to be at the right place, at the right time and on the right jamming frequency to support an operation, he said.
Graduates of the course who are now deployed have said good things about the training, Ingalls said.
"The feedback is that we are teaching the right things and that it gives them a head above of those (EWOs) who have not gone through this course," Ingalls said.
And, former students are also sharing their lessons learned in theater with current students to help them along, he said.
Elements of the EW system such as the CREW device are lifesavers, said Houston, a retired artillery officer. He said that he expected the EW systems and technologies to safeguard troops.
"The protection to the Soldier is just like the confidence that they had in their gas masks in the 1980s and their body armor today," he said.
Staff Sgt. Jerry Delva, one of the graduating students, said that he would recommend the AOEW Course to his peers.
"This is a great exposure to what's out there and what's possibly going to be out there in the future and how to prepare yourself for it," said Delva, an information management officer/electronic warfare and master gunner at the 174th Infantry Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y.