Electronically defeating the enemy
August 18, 2009
BAGHDAD - Known as the "Tetris guys" to many, the electronic warfare officers of the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division cultivate an air of mystery.
Designated down to the company level, they provide electronic attack assets to defeat remote controlled improvised explosive device attacks while Soldiers conduct operations in sector.
"I provide a means of protection for Soldiers that go outside the wire," said Rio Rancho, N.M. native, Chief Warrant Officer Michael McMurray, EWO for the "Ironhorse" Brigade.
"Taking care of business, is what they say I do," said West Point, Ind. native Sgt. Matthew Morris, EWO for the 2nd "Lancer" Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div.
With classified gizmos and gadgets, these hand-picked Soldiers ensure the Counter-RCIED Electronic Warfare systems, installed in each tactical vehicle, function properly.
"I've never been a technical person. This is different; this stuff really matters," Morris said.
Emerging as a career field in the Army, the brigade EWO attends a six-week course at Fort Sill, Okla. and the battalion representatives go to a condensed three-week course at Ft. Huachuca, Ariz., to learn the technical skills to become proficient in their new positions.
"Initially it was supposed to be an additional duty, but this is a fulltime, all-day job," McMurray said lightheartedly.
These hidden Soldiers guarantee every vehicle that conducts operations has a CREW system installed. They also make sure it's functioning properly, schedule upgrades and coordinate with maintenance shops to get routine checks. They also physically check each ground system before every mission to guarantee the systems are transmitting and receiving effectively.
"I appreciate the need to have CREW systems in today's Army," said McMurray. Since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, the weapons used against the U.S. forces have increased in their lethality, forcing the U.S. Army to counteract the threat with equipment and systems to provide more protection to the Soldiers.
McMurray said, over the years, the CREW systems have improved, proving to be quite beneficial to our Soldiers that go outside the wire and complete the mission.
"I find the job very rewarding; I love it," McMurray shared with a twinkle in his eye.