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CHIPS Articles: Stratcom Deputy Highlights Progress in Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations

Stratcom Deputy Highlights Progress in Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations
By Amaani Lyle, Defense Media Activity - November 30, 2016
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2016 — The U.S. Strategic Command deputy chief outlined the Defense Department’s strides in broadening access and control in asymmetric warfare during his remarks today at the 53rd Annual Association of Old Crows International Symposium and Convention here.

While Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard championed electromagnetic spectrum superiority as “essential to all joint operations,” he also noted the need for evolved thinking to collaborate across the maneuver space.

“All of our joint operations depend on the United States maintaining asymmetric advantage in our warfighting domains,” Richard said, “and all of that hinges on our freedom of access and maneuver within the electromagnetic spectrum.”

Richard said Stratcom’s unified command plan responsibilities serve as an acknowledgement that maintaining asymmetric advantage across the spectrum holds enduring strategic value for the DoD.

As the functional combatant command with oversight of joint electronic warfare capabilities ranging from signals intelligence to high-frequency radios and beyond, it is Stratcom’s responsibility and opportunity to set the framework for integrating spectrum operations across the globe, he said.

The admiral said the joint magnetic spectrums office “has become the nexus for all services and combatant command spectrum operations,” adding that it remains in Stratcom’s area of responsibility due to the spectrum’s global nature in air, sea, land, space and cyberspace domains.

Solutions in a Congested, Contested Environment

As the joint force began to face an increasingly congested and contested electromagnetic operating environment in recent years, Richard said, DoD responded by recognizing and assigning electronic warfare as a separate and complex mission area rather than simply letting it reside under information operations integration efforts.

Electronic warfare as an individual capability was reflected in President Barack Obama’s 2011 unified command plan. The plan dictates that Stratcom is responsible for joint electronic warfare by advocating for its capabilities, providing contingency electronic warfare support to other combatant commands, and supporting combatant commands’ joint training and planning as it relates to the electromagnetic spectrum.

With the joint magnetic spectrum office still in its nascence as a single entry point into the command for all electromagnetic spectrum operations, foundational efforts in integration and synchronization have fostered a clear vision and path forward, the admiral said.

“We’re working with [U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. Pacific Command] in developing standard operating procedures for their respective joint force commanders’ electromagnetic spectrum operations cells,” Richard said.

He also noted routine advances in magnetic spectrum operations integration through joint exercises, including Eucom’s Austere Challenge and Pacom’s Pacific Sentry. And earlier this year, the admiral said, Stratcom hosted more than 70 magnetic experts from across the services to inform the development of a future electromagnetic battle management system designed to improve situational awareness, decision support and command and control spectrum-reliant capabilities.

Crossing Geopolitical Boundaries, Domains

Still, work remains to do in the face of a vexing current threat environment, Richard said. And that work, he stressed, will inform thinking and priorities to include improving command and control operations, and updating paradigms in spectrum management across geopolitical boundaries and warfighting domains.

“By managing and enforcing our will in spectrum deliberately, we know we can achieve a strategic advantage and enable instruments of national and coalition power,” Richard said. “This is a huge mission but it has tremendous payoffs.”

The spectrum is the only physical maneuver space which allows U.S. and allied forces to influence and visualize the battlespace as a whole at such a profound level, Richard asserted.

“We gain an advantage over an adversary when our control of electromagnetic energy and flow of information enable faster decision making,” he said, adding that “it requires real-time awareness of the current electromagnetic operating environment and available resources for effective decision making.”

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Todd Penrod, battle watch captain for U.S. European Command's computer-assisted exercise, Austere Challenge 17, receives an update aboard the U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney in the Black Sea, Oct. 11, 2016. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Ford Williams.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Todd Penrod, battle watch captain for U.S. European Command's computer-assisted exercise, Austere Challenge 17, receives an update aboard the U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney in the Black Sea, Oct. 11, 2016. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Ford Williams.

Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard addresses the Defense Department’s progress in electromagnetic spectrum operations during remarks at the 53rd Annual Association of Old Crows International Symposium and Convention in Washington, Nov. 29, 2016. The event highlights critical issues related to national defense, asymmetric warfare capabilities and the electronic warfare community. DoD photo by Amaani Lyle.
Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard addresses the Defense Department’s progress in electromagnetic spectrum operations during remarks at the 53rd Annual Association of Old Crows International Symposium and Convention in Washington, Nov. 29, 2016. The event highlights critical issues related to national defense, asymmetric warfare capabilities and the electronic warfare community. DoD photo by Amaani Lyle.
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