Auto manufacturers work very hard to deliver the ultimate driver experience. Powerful machines are folded and molded around the human form for comfort, ease of use, and driving pleasure – even color and digital designs for dashboard gauges require careful consideration because the wrong design decisions could cost manufacturers millions of dollars in lost sales.
In software and hardware design "the driver" is the "the user," and in Army software and hardware design the stakes are far higher than mere dollars, the Army said in a release.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Insch, an EW Technician with the Army's Project Manager Electronic Warfare & Cyber (PM EW&C), gathered more than 20 electronic warfare (EW) and electromagnetic spectrum managers (ESM) Soldiers from around the globe for Product Manager Electronic Warfare Integration's (PdM EWI) User Verification Event, or UVE, for their premier platform the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT). The objective of the UVE was to obtain feedback from the EW/ESM operational force.
The EWPMT is a computer application that lets electronic warfare officers and electromagnetic spectrum managers visualize, work with and coordinate effects on the battlefield in an overlay model that prioritizes their area of expertise: the electromagnetic spectrum.
"The value of having these senior folks who have done EW their whole career," said Insch, "is they've deployed at multiple levels from brigade all the way to the Army Command level and their critical user feedback ensures that we're providing the force a product they can actually use."
Electronic warfare as an occupation in the Army is at the beginning of a renaissance, Insch said.
The incoming generation of military recruits have not lived in an unconnected world, the fabled "digital natives" a term first coined by educator and author Marc Presnky, to describe people who not only have lived through an era where technology has developed faster than ever before, but who have always considered the internet, apps and mobile devices to be an integral and necessary part of their lives.
To make sure the right people have input and hands-on to train incoming recruits on the EWPMT, Insch brought in personnel from school houses and training centers, with Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nicholas Esser, an Electronic Warfare Instructor from the Warrant Officer Basic Course out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Flannigan, a Soldier from the National Training Center in California. These two officers will be introducing and designing the ongoing training, respectively.
"At the school house we have instructors who have been instructors their whole career, they've gone from brigade to division to joint levels and finally to the school house teaching. We're finally getting to a point where it's a home grown branch of people," Esser said.
While Esser expressed a school house perspective on what the EMPWT will need, Flannigan focused on the need for larger combat elements mobilization and training.
"One of my major objectives is to get this to the combat training centers and start implementing it through their training and validation," said Flannigan. "Practice like we fight. We do a minimum of 10 units per year. It would be really good to get this out there and get more feedback from the Soldiers that are deploying with it.
"It's exciting to see we actually have a tool now and we're actually working toward a solution." Flannigan said, and his priority is ensuring more time and training with the EWPMT. "If we all get new gear but we're not using it in training then we're not going to implement it downrange," he said.
Incorporating the EWPMT in the Military Decision Making process was another key point for many of personnel who traveled to Aberdeen. Capt. Sacarra Pusey, an Electronic Warfare Officer hailing from Fort Polk, Louisiana, was enthusiastic to give feedback.
"Cyber Blitz 2018 was our first time seeing the EWPMT, besides hearing about it during training as an officer during our school." said Pusey. "… During Blitz we had a chance to use the EWPMT Raven Claw. Now they've brought us back to continue to assess the equipment, so my NCO's were able to talk to [the engineer] and gives updates, 'can we have the right click capability, can we have the alerts hidden, can we talk through the chat,' and as we went through the steps in the processes a lot of the kinks were taken care of."
Pusey said he could see the EWPMT being useful in visualizing the role of Electronic Warfare to a combatant commander.
"We are tech savvy, but if I show the colonel what I'm seeing in the EWPMT, that helps explain that message that I'm trying to get across. …if I show him the coverage map, he will see that piece much more clearly."
EW Soldiers agreed that EWPMTs serve a core purpose, which is ultimately saving Soldiers’ lives.
Col. Kevin Finch, Project Manager for EW&C, made it a point to stop by and ensure every participant had his business card after giving them a brief talk to encourage the flow of feedback.
"This a great event for EWPMT, the fact that we have Soldiers from across the Army coming and providing this feedback," Finch said. "This is just going to make for a better capability for our Soldiers. Our leadership has made it a point to tell that Soldier touch points and Soldier feedback should be driving our capability development and this is what's happening here. We are getting valuable feedback that can provide the best capability to our Army in the future."
From a release by John Higgins, PEO IEW&S Public Affairs