By John Higgins, PEO IEW&S Public AffairsMarch 5, 2019
Car companies are very concerned about driver experience. Powerful machines are folded and molded around the human form for comfort, ease of use, and even readability is considered when making gauges to show how an engine is performing.
A bad driver experience can lose a company millions. In software and hardware design "the driver" is the "the user," and in Army software and hardware design the stakes are far higher than mere dollars.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Insch, an EW Technician with the Army's Project Manager Electronic Warfare & Cyber (PM EW&C), gathered more than 20 electronic warfare (EW) and electromagnetic spectrum managers (ESM) Soldiers from around the globe for Product Manager Electronic Warfare Integration's (PdM EWI) User Verification Event, or UVE, for their premier platform the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT). The objective of the UVE was to obtain feedback from the EW/ESM operational force.
The EWPMT is an application for a computer that lets electronic warfare officers and electromagnetic spectrum managers visualize, work with and coordinate on the battlefield in an overlay style that prioritizes their area of expertise: the electromagnetic spectrum.
"The value of having these senior folks who have done EW their whole career," said Insch, "is they've deployed at multiple levels from brigade all the way to the Army Command level and their critical user feedback ensures that we're providing the force a product they can actually use."
Electronic warfare as an occupation in the Army is at the beginning of a renaissance, said Insch.
The incoming generation of military recruits have not lived in an unconnected world, the fabled "digital natives" a term first coined by educator and author Marc Presnky, to describe people who not only have lived through an era where technology has developed faster than ever before, but where it was always available.
To make sure the right people have input and hands on to train those incoming recruits on the EWPMT, Insch brought in personnel from school houses and training centers, with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nicholas Esser, an Electronic Warfare Instructor from the Warrant Officer Basic Course out of Fort Sill, Okla and Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Flannigan, a Soldier from the National Training Center in California. These two officers will be introducing and designing the ongoing training, respectively.
Esser expressed the benefits of getting this training at the school house, "At the school house we have instructors who have been instructors their whole career, they've gone from brigade to division to joint levels and finally to the school house teaching. We're finally getting to a point where it's a home grown branch of people."
While Esser represents a school house perspective on what the EMPWT will need, Flannigan focuses on mobilization and training of larger combat elements.
"One of my major objectives is to get this to the combat training centers and start implementing it through their training and validation," said Flannigan. "Practice like we fight. We do a minimum of ten units per year. It would be really good to get this out there and get more feedback from the Soldiers that are deploying with it."
"It's exciting to see we actually have a tool now and we're actually working toward a solution." Flannigan said, and his priority is ensuring more time and training with the EWPMT. "If we all get new gear but we're not using it in training then we're not going to implement it downrange," he said.
Incorporating the EWPMT in the Military Decision Making process was another key point for many of personnel who travelled to the Aberdeen area for UVE, and Capt. Sacarra Pusey, an Electronic Warfare Officer hailing from Fort Polk, La., was enthusiastic to give feedback.
"Cyber Blitz 2018 was our first time seeing the EWPMT, besides hearing about it during training as an officer during our school." said Pusey. "They talked about it but we never saw it. During Blitz we had a chance to use the EWPMT Raven Claw. Now they've brought us back to continue to assess the equipment, so my NCO's were able to talk to [the engineer] and gives updates, 'can we have the right click capability, can we have the alerts hidden, can we talk through the chat,' and as we went through the steps in the processes a lot of the kinks were taken care of."
Pusey could see the EWPMT being useful in visualizing the role of Electronic Warfare to a combatant commander.
"We are tech savvy, but if I show the colonel what I'm seeing in the EWPMT, that helps explain that message that I'm trying to get across. He'll hear we're 'producing effects along this line' in the vicinity of something, but if I show him the coverage map, he will see that piece much more clearly."
Warrant Officer Arquímides Sanchez, an Electronic Warfare Technician who travelled all the way from Asia for the UVE, said, "the system we are evaluating here is key for new developments in the EW community. We don't have this asset yet, it will be fielded next year and it will allow to be more efficient against these types of threats in the multi-domain battle space."
Sanchez focused on EWPMT's, and all military equipment's core purpose, which is ultimately saving Soldiers lives. "This capability provides that. This tool will save lives."
Col. Kevin Finch, the man responsible for that speed and the Project Manager for EW&C, made it a point to stop by and esnure every last participant would leave with his business card in hand after giving them a brief talk to encourage the flow of the ever important feedback.
"This a great event for EWPMT, the fact that we have Soldiers from across the Army coming and providing this feedback," said Finch. "This is just going to make for a better capability for our Soldiers. Our leadership has made it a point to tell that Soldier touch points and Soldier feedback should be driving our capability development and this is what's happening here. We are getting valuable feedback that can provide the best capability to our Army in the future."