Sunday, April 17, 2016

Joe Gould, Defence News: Electronic Warfare: What US Army Can Learn From Ukraine

To read the entire item by Joe Gould in the leading publication Defence News, kindly click on this link:
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/08/02/us-army-ukraine-russia-electronic-warfare/30913397/

Electronic Warfare: What US Army Can Learn From Ukraine



The US military has for weeks been training Ukrainian forces in US tactics, but the commander of US Army Europe says Ukrainian forces, who are fighting Russian-backed separatists, have much to teach their US trainers.
Ukrainian forces have grappled with formidable Russian electronic warfare capabilities that analysts say would prove withering even to the US ground forces. The US Army has also jammed insurgent communications from the air and ground on a limited basis, and it is developing a powerful arsenal of jamming systems, but these are not expected until 2023.
"Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we've learned a lot from the Ukrainians," said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. "A third of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the ... combat zone, and no Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and these Ukrainians have. It's interesting to hear what they have learned."
Hodges acknowledged that US troops are learning from Ukrainians about Russia's jamming capability, its ranges, types and the ways it has been employed. He has previously described the quality and sophistication of Russian electronic warfare as "eye-watering."
Russia maintains an ability to destroy command-and-control networks by jamming radio communications, radars and GPS signals, according to Laurie Buckhout, former chief of the US Army's electronic warfare division, now CEO of the Corvus Group. In contrast with the US, Russia has large units dedicated to electronic warfare, known as EW, which it dedicates to ground electronic attack, jamming communications, radar and command-and-control nets.Though Ukrainian troops lack the materiel to protect themselves from this form of attack, the Ukrainian military's institutional knowledge as a former Soviet republic will help it understand how Russia fights, and its troops will have trained to operate while being jammed, Buckhout said. That's something US ground forces can learn.
"Our biggest problem is we have not fought in a comms-degraded environment for decades, so we don't know how to do it," Buckhout said. "We lack not only tactics, techniques and procedures but the training to fight in a comms-degraded environment."
It's not hard to see why EW is an attractive option for Russia while the eyes of the world are on it. Not only is it highly effective, but as a non-kinetic form of attack, it is harder to trace and less likely to be viewed as overt aggression, and as such, less likely to incite the ire of the international community, Buckhout said.
In a fight, Russia's forces can hinder a target's ability to respond to, say, an artillery attack, allowing them to fire on an enemy with impunity. Ukrainian forces would be unable to coordinate a defense against incoming rockets and missiles, or release counter battery fire.
"If your radars don't see incoming fire, you can't coordinate counterfire," Buckhout said.
The US, Buckhout said, lacks a significant electronic attack capability.
"We have great signals intelligence, and we can listen all day long, but we can't shut them down one-tenth to the degree they can us," she said. "We are very unprotected from their attacks on our network."
Multifunctional EW
Col. Jeffrey Church, the Army's electronic warfare division chief, acknowledged that since the Cold War, adversaries have continued to modernize their EW capabilities, while the Army began reinvesting its capabilities for Iraq and Afghanistan. Church called the fielding of Army electronic warfare equipment the "No. 1 priority" of his job.
"The  Army must have electronic warfare capabilities that could be used to dominate key terrain on the electromagnetic spectrum against any adversary," Church said.
A developing Army program, Multifunctional Electronic Warfare (MFEW), is intended to provide an offensive electronic attack capability, able to jam cell phone, satellite and GPS signals, said Lt. Col. Gregory Griffin, chief of the Electronic Warfare Division's programs and requirements branch. However, the focus had been until recent years on "defensive electronic attack," namely counter-radio-controlled-IED devices that create bubbles of protective jamming around vehicles and people, and signals collection for intelligence purposes.