By BRANDON POLLACHEK, PEO IEW&SOctober 15, 2009
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 15, 2009) -- As the U.S. Army approaches eight years of counter-insurgency operations in two theaters, Iraq and Afghanistan, the enemy use of the electromagnetic spectrum against U.S. Soldiers has remained a persistent challenge.
Protecting Soldiers from improvised explosive devices and providing them with an accurate and complete understanding of their environment across the spectrum has brought about significant change in focus for the Army in the area of electronic warfare.
By tightly integrating EW -- as a form of non-kinetic fires -- with existing kinetic capabilities, the the aim is to achieve spectrum dominance through an effects-based joint operations plan.
The Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors, or PEO IEW&S, has stepped to the forefront in supporting this new direction with a focus on operationalizing EW as an integrated battlefield capability that will enhance situational awareness, improve force protection, enable dominant maneuver, and aid in precision lethality.
To meet the emerging demand for the recently established EW vision, PEO IEW&S stood up the Project Manager Electronic Warfare office Sept. 1 under Col. Rod Mentzer.
PM EW, formerly Project Director Signals Warfare, was established to give the developing areas of EW a home for all of its integration needs.
"We're changing the name to highlight the core competencies of this Project Management Office as the Army transitions into an era of increased emphasis on capabilities associated with electronic warfare," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Cole, program executive officer for IEW&S.
"We have a talented, experienced workforce and synergy of effort among IEW&S, RDECOM [U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground], and CECOM [Communications and Electronics Command] in Fort Monmouth, N.J., for doing this type of work. PM EW provides the Army a focal point for providing EW capability to Soldiers," Cole said.
This change in direction coincides with recent actions within the Army to establish a formal home for EW requirements.
"As the Army began to get its fingers back into the fight and electronic warfare scenarios came to the forefront, the Army decided it needed to get back into the EW arena and stood up an office in the G3/5/7 shop," said Mentzer, referring to the establishment of the Electronic Warfare Division in the Pentagon.
In February, a 29-series military occupational series was created that will eventually give the Army the largest electronic warfare manpower force of all the services. Nearly 1,600 EW personnel, serving at every level of command, will be added to the Army over the next three years.
The Army's EW personnel will not only be experts in fighting the threat of IEDs, but they will be versed in a much more complex challenge of controlling the electromagnetic environment in land warfare by tactical employment of the three major EW tenets of electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic warfare support to gain an advantage in support of tactical and operational objectives across the full spectrum of operations.
PM EW is poised to supply these Soldiers with the tools they need to operate within the EW spectrum, Mentzer said.
"PM Electronic Warfare will enable and support these adaptive, versatile and full-spectrum-capable Electronic Warfare Soldiers with the highest technology possible," he said.
Product Managers Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare Systems, Prophet and Information Warfare will remain under the EW charter as the organization poises itself to take the prominent position in fielding and sustaining systems to meet the Army's EW needs.
PM EW currently fields various versions of CREW, Prophet Enhanced systems and a multitude of classified systems. In fiscal year 2009, the organization fielded more than 36,000 CREW devices as well as more than 30 Prophet systems.
Over the near term, Mentzer plans on working closely with the G3 as they define the requirements and the direction the Army will take in the realm of EW.
In summarizing the role EW will play in the Army in current conflicts as well as in the future, Gen. Raymond Odierno, Multi-National Force-Iraq commander said, "I think by having [EW specialists] within every unit in Multi-National Corp-Iraq, in Afghanistan and any future operation, it will better enable our forces to combat the threat that is inside the electronic warfare spectrum.
"This expertise and capacity will obviously help save the lives of our Soldiers and it will also help us to move forward and understand the spectrum as we continue to develop our operation."
(Brandon Pollacheck serves with PEO IEW&S.)