Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Army Gets It Even More!

Hard on the heels of the previous post comes more good news about Army training (1).  They’re now beginning to exercise in electromagnetically challenged and degraded environments.  This has long been one of ComNavOps’ beliefs, that we need to exercise in seriously electromagnetically challenged environments because that’s what we’ll fight in.  Failure to do so has led to our sailors and soldiers losing basic skills like navigation and map reading and an overdependence on networking and data linking to provide our intelligence and surveillance.  Our individual units have forgotten how to generate their own information.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell,

“After two decades of largely ignoring the danger, the Army is seriously training for a scary scenario: What if GPS, our satellite communications and our wireless networks go down?

It’s hardly a hypothetical threat. Russian electronic warfare units locate Ukrainian troops by their transmissions and jam their radios so they can’t call for help, setting them up for slaughter. American soldiers are much better trained and equipped than Ukrainian ones, but they’re also much more dependent on wireless devices.”

“We depend on networks for everything from communications to guiding precision weapons, to not shooting friendly units by accident, “to not getting lost in the woods …”

Now, the Army is beginning to train for lost electronic aids.  Training for an electromagnetically challenged environment starts with the basics.

“So the Army is now deliberately disrupting its own units during training. For example, when brigades go to the National Training Center, they naturally bring all their usual GPS navigation systems — but now “we routinely take that capability away from them,” said Perkins [ Gen. David Perkins, head of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)]. “We’re having to teach people at the Basic Course on up on how you operate if that is taken away, in other words introducing people to maps.”

Training then goes on to top end electromagnetic warfare (EW) threats.

“In the past, “we’ve done some training exercises where there’s been GPS jamming; we’ve done exercises where there’s radio-frequency jamming… but it’s very narrow, very limited.” By contrast, he said, under Gen. Milley’s direction, the Army will “bring the full [EW] package to the National Training Center.”

As the article discusses, the Army is having to relearn lessons of old:  maps, compasses, hand drawn battle plans, tactical siting of HQs and communications units, radio discipline to avoid triangulation, etc.

Outstanding Army!  Once again, the Navy needs to learn from the Army.  The Navy is even more dependent on electromagnetic aids then the Army is.  Every weapon the Navy has uses GPS guidance or guidance data links, the heart of the Navy’s defensive plans relies on networks and data sharing for cooperative engagement, UAVs are dependent on highly vulnerable comm. links, etc.  The Navy needs to relearn how to fight in an EW environment.  The Navy needs to find out which weapons simply won’t work in an EW environment.  The Navy needs to break its addiction to and dependence on electronic aids.

In a real war, there’s a lot to said for a high explosive, dumb shell that requires no guidance and can’t be jammed!


(1)Breaking Defense, “Maps & Jammers: Army Intensifies Training Vs. Russian-Style Jamming”, Sydeny J. Freedberg Jr, 18-Mar-2016,


  1. I was an acoustic sensor operator onboard p-3s in the Navy. While flying in a P-3B, we lost our computer/tactical display. The Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) used a map, paper and a stop watch for his tactical plot. Gotta improvise.

  2. There are many lesson from Ukraine:

    1) Russias landbased EW equipment is the most advanced in the world.

    2) Tube artillery can still dominate the battlefield.

    3) Soldiers are a lot more vulnerable sitting inside an armored vehicle, than taking cover in a ditch.

    4) Field phones and landlines cannot be intercepted or jammed.

    5) Achieving air supremacy is difficult, as it requires an effective air force. Denying airspace to your opponent is much easier, as it only requires a bunch of missiles.

    6) GPS is embarrasingly easy to jam. As is the gsm-network. HF to UHF handhelds are harder to jam, but easy to triangulate.


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