C4ISRNET Conference

Countdown begins for release date of Pentagon’s spectrum strategy

The Pentagon’s electromagnetic spectrum strategy could be released in the next two months, according to Essye Miller, principal deputy in the office of the department’s chief information officer, who spoke during the C4ISRNET Conference on May 6.

Miller said the EMS strategy is under review at the principal level and could be released in the next 60 days.

The long-term goals of the strategy will focus on establishing EMS superiority, developing superior EMS capabilities, fully integrating EMS infrastructure and securing partnerships for EMS advantage. To ensure the Department of Defense maximizes spectrum capabilities, CIO’s office is establishing an internal electromagnetic spectrum office, Miller said, adding that more information on that group will be released in the coming weeks.

“This electromagnetic spectrum is not only contested, but congested,” she said. “Therefore it’s increasingly important to have the ability to successfully conduct operations across every domain.”

Miller also said that as the department works to increase partnership with industry in the electromagnetic spectrum space, it’s asking what the implications are of industry operating on adjacent bands or sharing spectrum with industry.

“How does that work and how does that impact some of our major weapons systems? Those are some of the things that [the] team is having to look at," Miller said.

Miller also highlighted the work of the 5G standards office that’s working with the National Security Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, military officials and other senior Pentagon officials. For example, the group is examining how 5G supply chain information can be shared among partners.

“Our overall goal here is to research and understand the 5G ecosystem, which will advance technology and technical contributions that inform efforts to promote DoD positions on 5G international standards with other federal leadership and our external partners,” Miller said. “The key here is we want to be drivers of 5G strategy and standards across the spectrum.”

One of the 5G policy positions that the DoD and other federal agencies have taken is to encourage allies against adopting 5G technology from Chinese suppliers, like Huawei. But the federal government has struggled to deter allies, even close ones such as Britain. At the Munich Security Conference in February, Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned that the adoption of risky Chinese technology into allies’ 5G networks "could inject serious risk into our defense cooperation.”

The DoD has heard from commercial telecommunication providers asking the department for a 60-day emergency authorization for additional spectrum access in response to higher demand by customers across the United States. The DoD CIO’s office led the department’s evaluation assessing the implications of allowing the providers to access more spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission as well as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration urged the DoD to approve the request.

“Fortunately, we were able to accommodate these requests to provide expanded wireless broadband access to the American people” after consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military service chief information officers, Miller said.

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