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Crowded spectrum and operational security pose major challenges for US electronic warfare training

15th November 2022 - 18:00 GMT | by David Isby in Washington DC


Testing and training for electromagnetic spectrum operations is complicated by the fact that operational security precludes full use of many capabilities during exercises. (Photo: US Army)

Senior US commanders are restricted in their ability to train as they fight as the training task becomes more complex and the ability to use key equipment on exercises is limited by operational security.

Difficulties with testing and training for electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO), in the US and worldwide, was an issue highlighted throughout the annual convention of the Association of Old Crows in Washington DC last month. 

While not a new issue – it dates back to the Cold War – this has become more significant for the US military as the EM spectrum becomes more crowded with users, civilian and military. 

'We have to have testing and training, but we are being increasingly restricted in how we do this, though we have to train as we fight,' Frederick Moorfield, deputy chief information officer for command, control, communications and computers in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said at a panel discussion on 27 October.

The US services are increasing EMSO training. Maj Gen Dustin 'Dusty' Schultz, Director of Strategic Operations for the army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-3/5/7, said: 'Training is absolutely key… In past months, army leaders have said, "how do we get this into home station training and our training centres?" It is critical for our thinking process.'

Speaking on the same panel, VAdm Jeffrey Trussler, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Operations, identified operational security as a limitation on training and testing for EMSO. He pointed out that, for the navy, in the undersea domain, the spectrum effectively includes acoustics. 'That’s an enormous challenge.' he said. 'We don’t want to show in exercises… how we touch the spectrum, it puts us at risk…  It’s hard to do anything out of view.'

Earlier,, VAdm Kelly Aeschbach, Commander of Naval Information Forces, said at the conference that previously, using integrated live virtual and constructive (LVC) simulation for EMSO training had been limited because information on some US capabilities are highly classified.

However, in the past year, the navy has been able to integrate accurate EMSO play into eight large-scale LVC training exercises. 'We can’t train to our capabilities. There’s a lot of limitations.' she said, 'LVC gives us more effectiveness in the delivery of training.'

David Isby


David Isby

David Isby is a Washington-based attorney and consultant on national security issues. He has experience …

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