Monday, April 18, 2016

Jen Judson, Defence News: Will Russian Aggression Ramp Up US Army Focus on Electronic Warfare Needs?

Kindly note: this article was published on March 7, 2016.

To read the entire article by Jen Judson in the leading publication Defence News, kindly click on this link:

Will Russian Aggression Ramp Up US Army Focus on Electronic Warfare Needs?

March 7, 2016

WASHINGTON — The US Army’s Electronic Warfare Division chief for operations likes to say his favorite person is Vladimir Putin.
The reason?
“Vladimir Putin and the things that he has done in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine and starting to do in Syria is getting a lot of attention on what it means to have a modern, ready, [electronic warfare]-capable force,” Col. Jeffrey Church said in a recent interview. “Those actions have gotten more traction for Army Electronic Warfare and the need to do that than anything previous.”
The Army relies on the electromagnetic spectrum for everything from the individual soldier’s communications to precise weapons targeting and situational awareness, but even with this major dependence, the service is slow to develop its electronic warfare capability, Church said.
“All of those investments that we make, those billions of dollars of investments that we make in our other weapons systems and other command and control systems, those can be significantly challenged by our adversaries’ investments in electronic warfare,” Church said.
The Russians in particular have continued to develop strong electronic warfare tactics. Just how good the Russians are is highlighted in the war in Ukraine. US Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges has called that capability “eye-watering” on many occasions.
While the Russians never stopped developing EW capabilities, the US has not focused heavily on a serious electronic warfare capability for a long time.
Church sees this changing.
In February, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sponsored new bipartisan legislation introduced to boost the Pentagon’s electronic warfare efforts.
The Electronic Warfare Enhancement Act would require the Pentagon to supply Congress with a strategic plan for enhancing its electronic warfare capabilities, through cross-service cooperation, streamlining acquisitions and improving training and advancing offensive capabilities.
While the bill is meant for the entire Pentagon, Church said he hopes, if it passes, it will directly help the Army move forward much faster in fielding its EW capability.
The technology is there, Church said. “I could prove to you intuitively that the technology exists by citing the Russians are doing it in the Ukraine.”
If the Army acquired new EW capability it could overmatch, for example, Russia’s older technology, according to Church. “If we had the funding, we could buy US-produced electronic warfare capabilities that are ready to go today,” he said.
The investment would be worth the cost because “if you employ your electronic warfare properly … you would not need your armored brigade, your airborne brigade or your infantry brigade. You would eliminate the problem using your electronic warfare capabilities,” Church said.
The military deputy to Army acquisition chief Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson said at a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee hearing March 2 that electronic warfare is “one of those areas that we are concerned with and its effect on our ability to operate.”
Williamson added, “The concern I would have is that as you look at the access to technologies our current adversaries and our potential adversaries have, the ability to draw from the internet and available technology that is out there and develop counters to some of our very important systems, it’s critical for us to make an investment in electronic warfare.”