DOD preps new electromagnetic spectrum strategy

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DOD preps new electromagnetic spectrum strategy

The Defense Department is preparing for a new electromagnetic spectrum strategy to be released next summer.

"We are challenged in the electromagnetic spectrum," Air Force Maj. Gen. Lance Landrum, the deputy director for the Secretary of Defense Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Cross Functional Team, told reporters during a roundtable event Dec. 18 held by the Association of Old Crows in Alexandria, Va.

"Our dependence on the electromagnetic spectrum, the way our systems depend on it ... our competitors see that dependency, and so they see that dependency as a possible vulnerability."

The Defense Department Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Cross Functional Team, which stood up in April, is leading the effort with the DOD's chief information office.

The team was created per the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act provision requiring DOD to launch an electronic warfare team to ensure its can successfully conduct electromagnetic spectrum operations.

The team, which includes representatives from each military branch, U.S. Cyber Command, the Joint Staff and others, uses budget and program information to make recommendations. It is charged with the strategy's implementation, workforce and training, future capabilities, intelligence as well as integrating cyber, space and EMS.

The goal is to meld two existing strategies -- DOD's 2013 electromagnetic spectrum strategy developed by the CIO and the department's electronic warfare strategy -- into a singular policy: the Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy.

Landrum said the cross-functional team and CIO office have made progress on the strategy and expect it to be released by the end of summer in 2020. Detailed implementation guidance for the services would soon follow the strategy's release.

But there's more to it than just another strategy. Landrum said there should be a general set of joint standards but cautioned that "it is too simplistic" to develop a standard and have everyone abide by it because certain platforms and systems have different requirements.

"We have a ton of legacy systems that whether we like it or not are on their own standards," he said. "And so we need to figure out how to address all of these different standards and bring them together in some way."

Landrum added that such standards need to evolve over time with technology and would need requirements dynamic enough to allow for interoperability, reprogramming and linking.

The newly formed team has also begun a yearlong workforce analysis study, which will focus on identifying the military and civilian EMS workforce and better understanding the career path, training, education, culture and professional mentorship and development.

Landrum said they are a couple of months into the study and will look at how those things "create a culture and a mindset within that workforce that has a unity, cohesion and identity with the mission area of the electromagnetic spectrum."

The team is also acutely focused on electromagnetic battle management to help commanders make better operational decisions, while understanding associated risks, he said.

And while he wouldn't call it a warfighting domain or say whether competing countries such as Russia and China were ahead, the U.S. needs a strategy and a set of standards to gain an advantage.

"It is a physical maneuver space. It is a physical battlespace that our commanders have to be cognizant of," he said.

This article first appeared on FCW, a partner site of Defense Systems. 

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.

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