Saturday, August 6, 2011

JED 2011-07

This month's JED is one of the more interesting issues that I can remember - at least from a thematic perspective. This month, we're looking at land EW, where it is headed and what it needs in order to evolve. Land EW became a high-profile topic in the DOD around 2005. It was about that time that DOD leaders really began to respond to the growing improvised explosive device (IED) threat. In the short term, the DOD's response focused on vehicular IED jammers and leveraging support jamming aircraft to tackle these deadly threats. However, the Army leadership quickly realized that IEDs had exposed a larger gap in its capabilities, and it began to develop a comprehensive EW strategy that included training a new corps of EW operators of across all ranks. This was a good start. However, as CPT Kyle Borne argues in his article on page 30, the Army has much more work to do if it is to realize its plans for EW. After a strong start, the Army's EW strategy is now evolving too slowly. Its vision for EW could easily fall victim to higher priorities, especially because remote controlled IEDs are no longer the high-profile "threat of the day." The challenges in land EW are not exclusive to the Army, the Marines or land forces in general. Perhaps the most obvious (and most difficult) idea for the larger EW community to acknowledge is that land EW is not simply another form of airborne EW or naval EW. Land forces in a number of countries (US, UK, Israel, etc.) understand this very well. For the better part of 60 years, however, the larger EW community has been primarily focused on air-centric EW concepts, with a secondary focus on naval EW. Air-centric EW dominates our thinking, our culture and our assumptions about what the EW mission is, who performs that mission and what it is supposed to achieve.