FORT SILL, Okla. (19 Dec. 2012) -- Twenty-eight Soldiers in the Electronic Warfare Specialist Basic Course were the first students to receive the new Electronic Warfare, or EW, collar insignia at a graduation and cresting ceremony, Dec. 13, at Fort Sill.
Students in Class No. 001-13 were pinned by warrant officers currently in the EW Technician Warrant Officer Basic Course. Keynote speaker Col. John Smith, Fires Center of Excellence Joint and Combined Integration Directorate director, spoke to the graduates about the impact of Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, 29E, and the meaning of the collar device.
"The role electronic warfare has played in Iraq and Afghanistan has been very significant," said Smith. "Many of our adversaries are now challenging U.S. forces' dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum on a daily basis. That's where your newly honed skills, abilities and knowledge will come into play."
A crest identifies a Soldier's MOS, and inside the crest are symbols that describe a Soldier's duties. The EW crest features a lightning bolt, key and shield.
The lightning bolt represents the Army's intent to rapidly, decisively and precisely strike at the adversary with an electronic attack. The key symbolizes the means by which Soldiers unlock access to knowledge of the adversary, and the safekeeping of friendly capabilities and knowledge through electronic support and protection. The shield represents the unconditional commitment to electronically protect people, information and equipment from danger and harm.
Together they represent the Army's commitment to control the electromagnetic spectrum to gain and maintain the advantage in the operational environment, Smith said.
As the sole EW subject-matter expert at many units, these Soldiers will be relied on by battalion commanders to guide them on how best to employ electronic warfare, Smith said. The EW Soldiers should respond to this call of duty aggressively, tirelessly and be well-prepared, he said.
EW specialists plan and integrate EW support into a ground combatant commander's operations, said Lt. Col. Steven Oatman, Army Electronic Warfare School director.
One example would be electronic jamming of an adversary's radio-controlled improvised electronic devices without disrupting U.S. forces' communications in a maneuver (ground) operation, Oatman said. EW specialists are assigned at the battalion level and up to combatant commands across the Army.
Many of the students in the nine-week course were changing MOSs (reclassifying) from over-strength jobs to EW, which is understrength, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Fleury, 29E lead instructor. The EW mission falls under the field artillery branch.
Seventeen of the graduates were National Guard Soldiers because the Guard and Reserve are supplementing the active component, as well as meeting the requirement to have a certain number of 29Es in their battalions or brigades, said Fleury, a former communications specialist. All of the graduates will go to deploying units.
Graduate Sgt. Stephen Applebee, Vermont Army National Guard, said he reclassified to EW because there was a position open at his brigade.
"It's a much-needed career field for the Army because of the technology and information in warfare," said Applebee, who is an Active Guard Reserve Soldier.