The need to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum never has been higher for the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War. By using electronic warfare (EW), branches under the Department of Defense (DOD) umbrella can go on the attack and protect American warfighters and military resources.
This fall, the DOD unveiled its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, which outlines how the U.S. military aims to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum when it is challenged by peer and near-peer adversaries.
“The Department is transitioning from the traditional consideration of EW as separable from spectrum management to a unified treatment of these activities as Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO),” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote in the foreword to the publication released in October 2020. “Consequently, this 2020 Department of Defense EMS Superiority Strategy builds on essential objectives from the 2013 DOD EMS Strategy and the 2017 DOD EW Strategy, and takes the Department another critical step forward in implementing the 2018 National Defense Strategy. This Strategy seeks to align EMS resources, capabilities, and activities across the DOD to support our core national security objectives while remaining mindful of the importance of U.S. economic prosperity. Additionally, this Strategy lays the foundation for a robust EMS enterprise, prepares EMS professionals to leverage new technologies, and focuses on strengthening alliances to achieve the Department’s vision of Freedom of Action in the Electromagnetic Spectrum.”
The EMS Superiority Strategy includes five goals: develop superior EMS capabilities; evolve to an agile integrated EMS infrastructure; pursue total force EMS readiness; secure enduring partnerships for EMS advantage; and establish effective EMS governance.
“U.S. military operations are rarely conducted unilaterally and are increasingly reliant on contributions from our allies and partners,” DOD experts write in the strategy. “DOD must ensure EMS enterprise development efforts are interoperable and aligned with our allies and partners and should remove barriers limiting collaboration. This requires interoperable data sources and architectures. The Department will help develop military-to-military agreements, host nation agreements, agreements with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and other allies and partners focused on enabling coalitions the use of their full portfolio of EMS capabilities.”
The report continues, “This requires the means (software, data standards, transport channels, etc.) to move and process data at machine speeds with allies and partners. DOD must encourage our allies and partners to adopt, build, or enhance EMS capabilities that will increase our combined coalition EMS capability and capacity with particular focus on near-peer threats. This cooperation includes the need to expand opportunities for coalition EMS testing, training, and education in the United States and abroad.”
Jonathan Leitner, the radio frequency (RF) product marketing engineer for Menlo Microsystems Inc. in Irvine Calif., notes that “Battlespace dominance requires the upper hand in tactical and strategic troop and asset capabilities, and superiority with C6ISR — command, control, communications, computers, cyber-defense and combat systems and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. All of these are interconnected in a fabric that is reliant on the electromagnetic spectrum, particularly radio frequencies from HF to millimeter-wave. The U.S. will need to maintain a level of supremacy in the core RF technologies, from the component to the systems level. This will require that domestic companies stay far ahead of adversaries in core research in semiconductors, materials sciences, architectures, software tools, and manufacturing.”