The Department of Defense doesn’t have a way to visualize or plan attacks within the electromagnetic spectrum across entire theaters.
Pentagon officials had tried to look at tools that would help the U.S. better understand the electromagnetic spectrum using Syria as an example.
The head of Special Operations Command shared how adversaries are using advanced electronic warfare capabilities to jam communications and even disrupt AC-130 aircraft.
“How do we connect all this into a common operating picture,” said Chris O’Donnell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for platform and weapon portfolio management within the office of the undersecretary of defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. “How do we provide that just for what’s going on in the EM spectrum in Syria right now and it’s been quite a challenge for us.”
O’Donnell spoke Oct. 28 at the annual Association of Old Crows International Symposium in Washington.
Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas, the now retired former commander of Special Operations Command, once described Syria as the “most aggressive [electronic warfare] environment on the planet.”
It’s a problem national security leaders are still struggling with.
“We’ve had some very good systems from the folks at [Strategic Command] at the Joint Navigational Warfare Center, but it’s been a challenge for the department to put together a good RF [common operating picture] for Syria,” O’Donnell said.
One solution may be the Army’s Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT). With that tool, soldiers can plan and manage operations in the spectrum from the command post to the vehicle.
O’Donnell told C4ISRNET that while the Pentagon is leaning on the Army’s electronic warfare management tool now, it has not been deployed in Syria.
“That is a notional idea as a template,” he said. “The Army went out and did a good job on that using rapid prototyping techniques so everybody is leaning on that right now.”
EWPMT’s first increment has been broken into four software “capability drops.” Currently, the Army’s contractor Raytheon has completed the first three capability drops and is working on the fourth. Units in Europe will soon receive the system with the third capability drop. By 2021 units will receive the full system.
William Conley, who until this fall was the director of electronic warfare, in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense, told C4ISRNET that EWPMT was in the larger conversation for electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO) and electromagnetic spectrum battle management (EMBM).
“From the battle management side, the Army Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, EWPMT, for example, is a great example of how to do the battle management,” he said.