Battlespace Tech

Stratcom pushes a unified approach to joint spectrum operations

Military officials recently gathered to discuss the proliferation wireless electronic devices of all kinds—from weapons systems to smartphones—and the importance of managing and securing those devices in contested environments. The goal is the development of an Electromagnetic Battle Management system.

The January 12-14 sessions included over 70 participants from across the military spectrum—combatant commands, the military services, the Defense Department CIO’s Office Department of Defense Chief Information Office, combat support agencies and international experts in electromagnetic spectrum operations. 

The meeting sought to examine requirements to enable joint electromagnetic spectrum operations planning, as well as recommend and catalog user requirements for the development of future Electromagnetic Battle Management operations, a release from Strategic Command, which hosted the gathering, stated.      

“America’s prosperity and security relies on assured access to the electromagnetic spectrum to achieve strategic advantage and enable the instruments of national power,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Strategic Command commander. “The EMS reaches across geopolitical boundaries and warfighting domains, and is tightly integrated into the operation of critical infrastructures and the conduct of commerce, governance, and national security.”

“Since EMS transcends all physical domains and the information environment, and extends beyond defined borders or boundaries, [joint EMS operations] must be integrated across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains, as well as through the whole-of-government and internationally,” a Stratcom spokesperson told Defense Systems in an email noting that no unclassified materials from the gathering are available.  “It is only through such a convergence that we assure our full-spectrum superiority and enable the warfighter.”

Officials emphasized that forces are increasingly dependent on the EMS for virtually all aspects of performance. “Superiority in air, land, sea, space or cyberspace cannot be gained without control of the electromagnetic spectrum, and our adversaries are attacking the spectrum every day,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson. “The electromagnetic spectrum touches everything we do, and we must make sure [that] use and protection of this spectrum includes a whole-of-government and international approach.”

“Joint electromagnetic spectrum operations (JEMSO) include all activities in military operations to successfully plan and execute joint or multinational operations in order to control the electromagnetic operational environment (EMOE),” said a document published by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2012 titled “Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations.” “JEMSO is comprised of electronic warfare (EW) and JEMSMO and aims to exploit, attack, protect, and manage resources within the EMOE and resolve electromagnetic interference (EMI) in order to achieve the commander’s objectives.”  

Given the importance the military places on spectrum operations, as well as the troubling advancements made by nations such as Russia with sophisticated jamming technologies, the Defense Department acknowledged that it is considering recognizing the spectrum as a sixth domain of operations, in addition to land, air, sea, space and cyberspace, the last of which officially was declared a domain in 2011.

“Based on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, a lack of adherence to SM integration coupled with a lack of real-time SM, had an adverse effect on friendly communications,” the Joint Chief’s paper asserted.

Stratcom seconded this notion, saying that despite the critical dependence of the joint force on the EMS, the EMS is becoming increasingly congested by friendly, adversary and commercial users. Even more ominous, adversaries are “rapidly pursuing technologies to directly challenge our freedom of maneuver and our ability to operate” in this space, Stratcom said.   

To help address these concerns, the Defense Department and researchers have attempted to develop spectrum-sharing technologies to cut down on interference, the most recent being an very high-speed analog-to-digital converter, or ADC, aimed at converting analog data in the spectrum into digital code at an extremely rapid pace, which lets computers analyze their input and react to interference or other threats. 

“The size and complexity of the EMS drives the requirement for the EMBM to be automated, interface at the machine level, and operate at near real-time speeds,” Haney said. “This effort provides guidance for service interoperability while retaining flexibility to meet service-specific requirements. Future efforts will further refine and add context to the approved architectures.”

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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