WASHINGTON — Congress wants to consolidate and transfer all electromagnetic spectrum operations to a yet-to-be-determined entity.

Language about the issue in the defense policy for fiscal 2021 that both congressional defense committees accepted and released Dec. 3 differs from the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version in June. President Donald Trump still has to sign off.

Specifically, the initial bill required the secretary of defense to transfer within a year all the responsibilities and functions of the commander of Strategic Command with regard to electromagnetic spectrum operations to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would have included advocacy for joint electronic warfare capabilities, contingency electronic warfare support to other combatant commands and supporting combatant command joint training and planning related to electromagnetic spectrum operations.

What’s more, that earlier bill outlined specific roles for the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the electronic warfare senior designated official. Those duties were to include, among other things, managing the Joint Electronic Warfare Center, overseeing the services’ acquisitions and tactics related to the electromagnetic spectrum, and overseeing the integration of electromagnetic spectrum operations into operation plans and contingency plans.

Under the new plan, the secretary of defense has two years to transfer all responsibilities and functions of the commander of Strategic Command with regard to electromagnetic spectrum operations among the aforementioned topics. It also eschews any mention of roles for the vice chairman.

In developing a plan to transfer roles and responsibilities, the secretary must consider all appropriate entities with the potential for designation as the electromagnetic spectrum operations organization to include elements of the Joint Staff, combatant commands, existing or new agencies, the bill notes. Moreover, the bill requires the secretary to consider whether the electromagnetic spectrum operations organization should be a unitary structure or a hybrid structure.

The bill also requires the services and select combatant commands to annually provide an evaluation of their abilities to perform electromagnetic spectrum operations. The combatant commands include European Command, Indo-Pacific Command and Central Command. The services must include an evaluation of current and future programs of record and training, while the combatant commands must provide information on force posture, readiness, mission rehearsal and details concerning joint electromagnetic spectrum operations cells. The groups are made up of experts to help plan and manage operations in the electromagnetic spectrum for combatant commanders.

Next Gen Jammer

The bill also requires the Navy to submit a report regarding the strategy for its Next Generation Jammer, the service’s premier aerial jamming platform that is meant to play a big role in future conflicts against technologically sophisticated adversaries.

Congress wants the report to outline how the capability will ensure full spectrum electromagnetic superiority. The platform will replace the ALQ-99 jamming pod and has been broken up into three pods covering three portions of the electromagnetic spectrum: mid, low and high.

This provision remains unchanged from the Senate’s version in June.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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