Today’s Battle for Electromagnetic Spectrum Interoperability and Dominance

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November 21, 2016 | Originally published by Date Line: November 21 on

U.S. and allied military forces are working on new electronic warfare, cyber warfare, spectrum warfare, and information warfare systems to seize and hold control of communications, radar, and other important sensors.

Cyber warfare, information warfare, electronic warfare (EW), spectrum warfare, electromagnetic maneuver warfare. Those are only some of the names by which U.S. military experts describe their offensive and defensive use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Some believe it all should be combined under just one term – Spectrum Warfare or Electromagnetic Maneuver Warfare. Its label, however, is not nearly so important as recognizing the new and rapidly evolving reality of this complex global environment, according to former Chief of Naval Operations retired Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

“The electromagnetic spectrum is an essential – and invisible – part of modern life [military and civilian]. Our military forces use wireless computer networks to coordinate operations and order supplies, use radars and sensors to locate each other and the enemy, and use electronic jammers to blind enemy radars or disrupt their communications,” Greenert says. “With wireless routers or satellites part of almost every computer network, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum now form one continuous environment.”

Spectrum warfare is just as important as any other traditional domain of war, Greenert insists. “This environment is so fundamental to naval operations – and so critical to our national interests – that we must treat it on par with our traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space,” Greenert says. “In fact, future conflicts will not be won simply by using the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace; they will be won within the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace. This will require changes to our operating concepts, military systems, and – most importantly – a new way of thinking in our Navy.”