The Army could start fielding its new electronic warfare platoons in spring 2020, a top service official said Aug. 21.

These platoons are part of major force updates the service is undertaking in order to better compete with nations such as Russia and China. They will reside within military intelligence companies and serve as brigade assets.

“We do not have any organic electronic attack capabilities across echelons in the Army,” David May, director of the capability development integration directorate at the Cyber Center of Excellence, said Aug. 21 at TechNet Augusta.

As previously reported, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out at Fort Lewis in Washington was designated as the pilot unit for these new EW platoons.

Since then, this brigade has participated in a series of live environment tests, May told C4ISRNET, including the Joint Warfighter Assessment. The unit will also go to the National Training Center for a full rotation, allowing soldiers and electronic warfare personnel to practice against a world class force as well as participate in Cyber Blitz in September.

In addition, the Cyber Center of Excellence will supplement these live experiments and demonstrations with modeling and simulation at its battle lab.

These activities are expected to run until November, May said, when the Army will analyze its data and send a formal requirement for the unit to Army headquarters in April 2020. Provided the Army accepts the requirement, they can begin establishing these units across the force.

The experimentation has also allowed the Army to test new capabilities, serving as a proving ground of sorts for risk reduction on current programs of record, namely, the Terrestrial Layer System (TLS). It also allows the Army to experiment with new concepts.

“We took a unit. We gave them some EW personnel. We took some pre-prototyped kit. We brought them out to the field and we said ‘We want you to play with it. Let’s try some different formations. Let’s try some different ways to do connectivity and geolocation. Let’s see what works, what doesn’t work,’” May said. “All those lessons learned are going into validating the concept of operations and helping us drive the material requirement so that when we do come out and ask industry to produce something we’ve got a 90 percent solution.”

Currently, TLS is spread across several programs for varying sizes of capabilities. May explained this includes TLS extended range, which will be a division and corps asset, TLS large, which will be a brigade asset mounted on a large vehicle like a Stryker, TLS small, which will likely remain vehicle mounted but a smaller form factor, and TLS dismount.

TLS large will be the first to be developed and fielded. May had previously said TLS is set to field in the 2022 or 2023 timeframe. He added that these vehicle capabilities will also work with the dismounted systems so soldiers can also deploy with it as part of the vehicle.

In addition to the platoons, May explained the Army wants to create an intelligence/EW battalion at the division level and an intelligence/EW company at the corps level.

These force updates are still working their way through Army headquarters for approval, May said.

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

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