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Congress Rebuilds Military’s Electronic Warfare Shortfalls

The NDAA conference report seeks to bolster the Department of Defense’s strategic electronic warfare posture.
Congress has taken focus on the military’s electronic warfare shortfalls so as to rebuild the electronic warfare enterprise and make certain U.S. systems can be better than adversaries, including China and Russia.

A lengthy proposal in the conference report from your Senate and House Armed Services Committees’ annual defense policy bill directs the Pentagon to establish a cross-functional team to gauge the capabilities of adversaries.

The proposal is a formal recognition that electronic warfare, once squarely inside the domain of tactical operations, has now risen to strategic importance.

Russia, for example, has demonstrated in its incursion into Ukraine an entire array of capabilities. This includes obtaining full battalions by disabling their communications, intercepting messages that permit Russians to find out where Ukrainian forces are headed, and geolocating units in line with the electromagnetic signatures they emit.

The defense policy bill directs the secretary of defense to ascertain processes and procedures to produce, integrate and enhance electronic warfare mission area and the conduct of joint electromagnetic spectrum operations. These activities will probably be overseen by an appointee from the secretary of defense, the check states.

This appointee must:

  • Oversee the implementation of the electronic warfare strategy produced by the Pentagon’s electronic warfare executive committee;
  • Provide recommendations towards the executive committee on resource allocation to guide the proportions development and investment; and
  • iNPropose electronic warfare governance, management, organizational, and operational reforms for the secretary of defense.

In addition, the secretary must set up a cross-functional team for electronic warfare that may identify gaps in electronic warfare and joint electromagnetic spectrum operations inside the Department of Defense then provide recommendations towards the aforementioned senior official.

Congress can also be requiring a biennial update on the DoD’s electronic warfare tactic to include, and the like:

  • An update on vulnerabilities identified in the May 2015 electronic warfare assessment through the Defense Science Board;
  • A determination with the capability of joint forces to conduct joint electromagnetic spectrum operations against near-peer adversaries and then for any pressing capability gaps; and
  • Analysis of any personnel, resourcing, capability, authority, or other gaps being addressed such as development of an electromagnetic battle management capability for joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, establishment and operation of joint electromagnetic spectrum operations cells at combatant command locations and integration and synchronization of cyber and electromagnetic activities.

The bill also uses a comprehensive assessment of the electronic warfare capabilities of Russia and China. This would incorporate a review a vulnerabilities of electronic systems such as GPS and DoD abilities to conduct countermeasures in response to electronic warfare attacks.

Portions of the proposal stem from your bill introduced by Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a retired Air Force general who specialized in electronic warfare during his service, that has been later folded in to the defense authorization act.

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