Army tests prepare for all-domain warfare
- By Kevin McCaney
- May 10, 2016
In the future, the real battles in air space will take place in the unseen layers of the electromagnetic spectrum, something the Army has been preparing for in a series of exercises.
The service has conducted a string of experiments that take into account several factors, including that future expeditions will be joint operations involving multiple U.S. military services as well as coalition partners, that adversaries will be well-equipped to operate in the spectrum and that the spectrum will be contested.
The experiments incorporated the cyber and spectrum domains in addition to the traditional domains of air, sea and land, Col. Wayne Grieme, division chief of the Joint & Army Experimentation Division, of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s Capabilities Integration Center, said during a recent roundtable in Washington, D.C.
The exercises included low, medium and high-altitude artillery; missiles of various ranges; space-based weaponry; a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles used for both strike and reconnaissance; and fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. One focus was the challenges of dealing with unmanned aircraft, whose growing ubiquity and affordability makes them available even to non-state actors. Another was on dealing with signals that could interfere with operation of UAS and other aircraft.
Although the Army said the details were classified, the exercises, conducted with 11 centers of excellence battle laboratories and the Army Special Operations Command, simulated a hybrid threat from state and non-state actors across all domains.
The experiments reflect an increasing focus on electronic warfare, something military leaders acknowledge they’d neglected during a decade and a half of operating in the relatively uncontested airwaves of Iraq and Afghanistan. But the shift toward the Asian Pacific region and examples such as Russia’s sophisticated use of EW in Ukraine have made EW capabilities a priority.
The Army is planning to continue development of joint, all-domain capabilities with the Unified Challenge 16.2, a simulation exercise planned for the fall, focusing on the force of 2025-2030. Another exercise, Unified Quest, will focus on 2030-2050.
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.