One of the Pentagon’s top electronic warfare officials, William Conley, has left the Department of Defense, sources told C4ISRNET.
Conley served as the director for electronic warfare with the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. That position is now is vacant, sources said. Conley appears to be the new chief technology officer for Mercury Systems, according to a list of speakers published for the Association of Old Crows’ annual conference and AFCEA’s MILCOM conference.
Conley was a key player in the department-wide push to a new concept called electromagnetic spectrum operations, or EMSO. Essentially, the term refers to the notion that electronic warfare systems, electronic warfare doctrine and electronic warfare personnel within a particular region or theater work together more closely to provide a more holistic electronic warfare capability for commanders.
While the individual services have turned to battle management systems to operationalize the electromagnetic spectrum, the joint community has begun publicly discussing the need for its own electromagnetic battle management system.
“The term EMSO, electromagnetic spectrum operations … is really about how do we do all of those things dynamically through a finite number of apertures but also how do we battle manage all of these different things, which are happening in the electromagnetic spectrum today,” he said in a June interview with C4ISRNET. “It is how all of those come together, how we train operators, how we train commanders to make use of these new and different ways of being able to a, understand their operational environment, but b, the command relationships they now actually have and the things they now can control.”
Whitney McNamara, senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, called Conley’s departure a huge loss for the department given he was “probably the biggest champion in the Pentagon for advancing our ability to operate in the electromagnetic spectrum.”
“He thought a lot about how to change or improve upon the mechanisms DoD has to field commercial technology quicker outside of the traditional acquisition cycle to capture the commercial sector’s innovation in electronics which had surpassed DoDs’,” she said. “He gave a lot of thought into how to impose costs on our adversaries in the spectrum and the asymmetric strategies we could adopt to do so, instead of simply throwing more money at the problem.”
The incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledged a push toward this strategy during his confirmation hearing before Congress.
This philosophy “reflects a shift in focus from individual platforms to a broader approach that includes new sensor capabilities, information management, and methods to utilize the Electromagnetic Spectrum as a weapon. Efforts are also underway to better assess the readiness of the Joint Force to operate in spectrally-contested environments,” Gen. Mark Milley, wrote in July.
In a pre-hearing questionnaire, the nominee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed questions on a range of information warfare-related capabilities.
Military leaders have said it will be imperative for commanders to visualize the hard-to-see domains such as cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum. This is part of what military leaders describe as the multidomain environment of the future against.
Some in industry believe the future of electronic warfare will have to incorporate a visualization capability for operators and commanders to better plan effects in a non-physical domain.
McNamara added she was skeptical the position will be filled quickly, meaning it will be up to the electronic warfare executive committee and the electromagnetic spectrum operations cross functional team “to keep carrying the torch to make improvements in advancing our ability to operate and fight in the spectrum.”