Electronic Warfare: A New Way of Fighting

By Hames, Jacqueline M. | Soldiers Magazine, September 2009 | Go to article overview

Electronic Warfare: A New Way of Fighting


Hames, Jacqueline M., Soldiers Magazine


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IMAGINE a world where every aspect of your electronic life is vulnerable to direct attack. Your cell phone, computer, radio--all of them susceptible to electromagnetic assault. Imagine, too, that you are capable of the same thing. You have the ability to silence radios, or turn cell phones into stealthy spies. Sounds like something out of a science fiction book, doesn't it? It's not.

These forms of attacks and counter-measures are part of a growing type of warfare downrange: electronic warfare. Soldiers are defending against and attacking within the electromagnetic spectrum every day.

The Electronic Warfare career field was Army-approved in February 2009, and is a 29-series career for officers, warrant officers and enlisted personnel. Electronic warfare "is the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to effectively deny its use by an adversary, while optimizing use by friendly forces," according to the United States Army Computer Network Operations and Electronic Warfare Proponent at the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Courses and training for EW are being conducted at Fort Sill, Olda. Graduates will become subject matter experts in influencing non-lethal and lethal effects for tactical and operational operations, states a message to All Army Activities, or ALARACT, on Electronic Warfare Career Field Courses (on Army Knowledge Online at https://www.us.army mil/suite/doc/15619201).

Lt. Col. Frederick Harper, former chief of integrations for USACEWP, is excited about the new career field and its possibilities, both on the home front and in theater. He said the electromagnetic spectrum has many applications the Army can use to its advantage.

For example, there is a piece of equipment being developed at Fort Bliss, Texas, that sends out a beam of light and creates a burning sensation on the skin by using elements of the electromagnetic spectrum. The beam does not harm you, but it is a "great tool for MPs to break up mobs," Harper said.

Harper was the electronic warfare ground chief for the Mufti-National Corps, Iraq in 2006, where he first became involved in electronic warfare.

"I had no idea what that meant," he said of the position. Once there, "I got a call about two o'clock in the morning. I got called up to General Chiarelli's office and was told this was my new job. He looked at me, he pointed at his desk and said, 'See those blue folders on my desk? I said, 'Yes, sir.' He said, 'Your job is to make those blue folders go away,"' Harper recalled.

"It took me a second. I looked over him and said, 'OK sir. What are the folders?' He said, 'Those are the letters of condolences that I write to every servicemember's family. All those folders are casualties from IEDs. Your job as electronic warfare ground chief is to help manage all the crew systems and help train all the Soldiers in Iraq to use electronic-warfare capabilities,"' he said.

Harper willingly jumped headlong into the task. He and the 11 non-commissioned officers Gen. Peter W Chiarelli, now the Army's vice chief of staff, assigned to him began to organize electronic warfare.

"Those 11 NCOs are the actual heroes in my book," Harper said. "We were managing some 30,000 pieces of equipment in Iraq and there were 12 of us. That was it. We came to quickly realize that we couldn't really do that mission with 12 of us."

Harper and his group of NCOs held a meeting with Joint Counter Radio Controlled IED Electronic Warfare Systems, or J-CREW, to try and come up with a solution for managing so much equipment. Navy Capt. David J. Harrison helped come up with a plan.

"I'll never forget him," Harper said of Harrison, "He and I sat down and we came up with a plan and we presented it to General Chiarelli and we said, 'Basically sir, what you really need is you need to have approximately 300 Navy EWOs (electronic warfare officers) come into theater from corps all the way down to battalion level to manage electronic warfare. …

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