Among several recent developments bringing Army cyber and electromagnetic activities closer together, the service updated and renamed one of its regulations related to supporting the integrated multi-mission nature of cyber electromagnetic activities through software-based systems.

Army Regulation 525-15, titled "Software Reprogramming for Cyber Electromagnetic Activities," provides a raft of changes such as expanding the scope of software reprogramming to support CEMA, adds responsibilities for headquarter commands and direct reporting units to support electronic warfare reprogramming mission requirements, and establishes CEMA software reprogramming integrations and interoperability implementation strategy, the Army said.

"AR 525-15 highlights the important role cyber electromagnetic activities will play in the future of warfare," said Col. Jeffrey Church, the Army EW division chief at the Pentagon. "As the Army continues to invest and plan for long-term materiel solutions that will enable Soldiers to conduct CEMA operations, this regulation provides guidance that will allow Soldiers to fight and win in a contested electromagnetic spectrum."

One of the driving factors for the updated regulation, which was dated February 2016 and effective March 19, 2016, was the expanding nature of cyber and the need to integrate capabilities into new operations. "As CEMA includes Spectrum Management Operations (SMO) and Cyber in addition to EW, there was a need to expand the scope of software reprogramming support to include all three components of CEMA," Jason Juliano, a program officer within the Army's reprogramming analysis team, wrote in a memorandum of the new regulation sent to C4ISRNET.  "The effort to revise AR 525-15 took approximately 12 months. It began when HQDA G-3/5/7 Electronic Warfare (EW) Division and the Army Reprogramming Analysis Team Program Office (ARAT-PO) recognized the relevance of mission software reprogramming to the Army's CEMA concepts outlined in Field Manual (FM) 3-38.  Since its inception in December 1991, the ARAT's primary software engineering focus has been on EW systems, primarily Aviation Survivability Equipment."

Program objectives under the new regulation aim to provide "EW operational software programming support is to detect, classify, and declare new and changed cyber electromagnetic threats, and to support mitigation of these changes in order to allow commanders to conduct missions as required," the document said. "There is special emphasis on reducing ambiguity because of the covert nature of new and changing threats. Failure to respond to these changes in threat composition or signature may disrupt operations and negatively impact mission accomplishment and force preservation."

Specific lines of effort to achieve these objectives include:

  • Fielding Army EW sensors and smart weapons systems that are software-configurable at the application level to adapt to new and changed threats adversaries may introduce
  • Upgrading threat reprogrammable EW mission software product content such as threat libraries
  • Exercising cybersecurity processes and procedures in the development of mission software for EW systems, among others.

The new regulation also assigns responsibilities and tasks for certain organizations within the Army as well as roles for specific members of Army leadership. The commanding general of Army Materiel Command is assigned CEMA software reprogramming responsibility.

EW is something that the Army, and other services, have stepped away from within the last decade or so as the fight has focused on technologically inferior terrorist organizations.  However, as nation-states with sophisticated capabilities — such as Russia and China — continue aggressive postures that threaten U.S. allies and potentially international norms, the U.S. is finding it must counter emerging adversarial capabilities.

"As we get away from counter insurgency or COIN and move into the hybrid threat scenarios or near-peer scenarios, we must start to assume that our near-peer will have the same capabilities, if not more. Some of them already do," said Chief Warrant Officer Vincent Cimino, Electronic Warfare Technician for 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

"It is harder for a lot of people to see [how] electronic warfare works," Sgt. 1st Class Louis Daniels, Electronic Warfare Sergeant Noncommissioned Officer-in-charge for 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, said. "For most, they may think, 'what's the big deal? OK, you guys are jamming a signal.' The problem is going to be when the Army gets into these near-peer fights with enemies's that have the equipment and training to produce and fight against these (electronic warfare) effects."

The Army is beginning to recognize the advancements in adversarial capabilities in this space, and the updated regulation aims to curb these advancements with a better postured force.

"Warfare is rapidly moving into a new domain: cyberspace. This will affect warfighting in all domains, and the Army will take measures to adapt to the cyberspace environment," the regulation says. "As doctrine and tactics evolve, so will practices for reprogramming EW and CEMA systems to make them more responsive to the Soldier."

The document describes that improved and advanced adversarial tactics will likely be employed at the beginning of hostilities.  The Army identified a series of problems it faces relative to those of adversaries such as detecting new and existing threats, identifying the type of threat, validating and verifying the threat change to be creditable, determining how to counter the threat changes and implementing appropriate friendly force changes to counter the new or changed threat.  As such, the Army's new CEMA regulation aims to address shortfalls in detecting change, assessing the challenge, developing a response and implementing change.  These will be achieved through a combination of analysis, intelligence collection, software and hardware modifications and automated tools.

"EW, cyberspace operations and spectrum management operations are inextricably linked and all of these roles will continue to expand within unified land operations," said Church. "Cyber operators cannot operate without use of the electromagnetic spectrum."

"As the revised AR 525-15 reflects a logical expansion of the existing Army's rapid software reprogramming strategy, Soldiers and commanders who employ SMO and cyber systems in the field will potentially realize the threat analysis, engineering solutions, and dissemination solutions used for select EW systems over the past 20+ years. These solutions will allow Soldiers and commanders to rapidly respond to and counter changes in the EMS," Juliano's memo said.  "Strategically, the expansion of the Army's software reprogramming strategy to include SMO and cyber systems will potentially allow regionally focused and globally responsive forces to adapt their system performance to the requirements of their respective areas of operations.  The revised AR 525-15 also emphasizes that CEMA-enabling systems in development will require continuous attention to detail and involvement of every command to ensure that appropriate systems include rapid software reprogrammability to ensure effective and efficient post-deployment sustainability."

The Army will also be dissolving its EW division and folding it into a new cyber directorate at the Pentagon.  The directorate will encompass policy, strategy and requirements for cyber, electronic warfare and information operations.  It will be headed by Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost and reached initial operating capability in June with an expectation of full operational capability in August.