Thursday, October 31, 2019

US Forces Not Ready for Electronic Warfare

Breaking Defense website has a short article about electronic warfare (EW) and EW training that states everything I've been saying about our woeful lack of preparedness and the military's steadfast determination to avoid realistic training.  

I'm not going to comment further.  The article says everything that needs to be said.  Please, please check it out:

"US Forces Untrained, Unready For Russian, Chinese Jamming"

Breaking Defense, Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr., 30-Oct-2019


  1. "Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft have been asked to conduct jamming during both Air Force and Army exercises, an Air Force officer added, only to be asked to stop because they were too effective. “We crushed the entire air war [and were told] ‘okay, knock it off,’” he said."

    This right here is literally how wars are lost.

  2. Yeah, saw that article, sad.

    I can understand you want to train and don't want 1000s troops standing around BUT if you have to knock it off after 10 minutes, shouldn't there be an alarm bell going off somewhere???

    There should be a REAL EXERCISE where jamming starts, comms are down and exercise continues....I think the reasons it never happens is nobody wants to be the asshole that enforces that and appears to waste time and money, plus let's face it, the general and staff that has that happen to them and fails, their careers are OVER and leadership will be pissed at the general that wanted the exercise to be "real", no way anybody talks to that general after that, his career is done too....nobody wants to be that "guy".

  3. Lonfo, at least we know the USM has an effective Red Team,
    just in case we have a transformation in military leadership and start realistic training.

    The War Zone has a good EW report on the Ukraine up.

  4. This article is USSTRATCOM trying to change the mind of how "Big Army" trains and fights. While it is bad that capabilities have declined, in part to an attitude of "Why do I need space? As long as my GPS and my SAT phone work, I'm fine," parts of the Army are aware of this gap and addressing it.

  5. This doesn't seem that difficult to fix.

    Do EW training separated from other training until the military gets proficient enough at EW that it can incorporate the two together.

    1. It would seem to be simple, common sense, wouldn't it? And yet, we don't do it ...

    2. It seems to me that much of the EW training wouldn't need to be conducted in the field, or at sea, or in an aircraft.

      This should be something that could be trained in a garrison setting.
      Then, when proficiency is reached, it could be incorporated into live training exercises.

    3. "This should be something that could be trained in a garrison setting."

      To some extent, yes. However, a lot of the offensive EW would likely disrupt routine operations and equipment also in garrison.

      If, by in garrison, you mean go out on a practice patrol without any GPS or comms and learn what to do, then emphatically yes.

    4. What I was thinking was that they could use equipment, like a secure frequency-hopping radio, similar to what they would use in a field training activity, but in garrison. They could then work on ways to overcome the jamming, for example.

      The disruption of the post would be a problem that I hadn't thought about.

      I haven't been in the army for quite a few years.
      I'd be disappointed, but not surprised, if they are not learning to navigate with map and compass and leaning primarily on GPS.

      If that is true, it's a huge mistake.

    5. "I'd be disappointed, but not surprised, if they are not learning to navigate with map and compass and leaning primarily on GPS."

      I don't know about the Army and land navigation skills but the Navy is no longer teaching old fashioned navigation. Bridge crews seem not to even know how to take bearing fixes anymore!

    6. Same here, I learned to nav without GPS but that was in the late 90s, early 2000s, don't know how the Army does it's training now? With jamming, forget GPS but also probably forget using smartphone with GoogleMaps!

    7. (Don McCollor)..early 2000s I was taking a short US connecting flight with some reserves "heading to the sandbox". One was complaining that his GPS batteries were dead (why in heaven's name did he need his GPS on in an airport?)...Gave him some fatherly advice suggesting he swap the batteries around. "But they're dead"..."Swap them"...He looked at me like I had worked a miracle when the GPS came back on (with multiple batteries there is always one weakest one that can be bypassed for a little while). Kids today (or even back then)...

  6. Just a thought, reading books on WW2 heavy bombing of Germany, some US Generals and others really thought you could bring a country to stop war by bombing the crap out of cities....well, we know it didnt work for London or Berlin, people's will actually kind of strengthened. Well, what does have to do with EW today?

    Not seeing it? Ok, what's happens when you start jamming at 100% intensity and hacking into whatever computer-controller is still working IN THE CIVILIAN WORLD? There's plenty of evidence already that civilian airspace, ATC, comms, etc super easy to jam, hack into dams,power plants,hospitals, banks!,etc PLUS take down SOCIAL MEDIA and how long do you think civilians will want war to continue? Military EW defence is inadequate at best but at least they are aware of the problems,civilians? Apart from hacking, it's not even on the radar, our enemies will take down parts or whole of civilian sector.

    1. To raise an excellent point. The mission of the military is to protect the United States from enemies. If the enemy is capable of crippling disruption of our infrastructure then the military should be defending that infrastructure. That means that the military should be cyberproofing our digital infrastructure (power plants, water treatment, traffic control, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, there is no concerted effort by the military to do that. We are wide open and vulnerable.

      Great comment.

    2. Gents, with respect your point of view on this is less than current.

      The military is way below civilian capabilities in this area. The really good guys are civilian, and they make huge money for their expertise. And you won't get them to work for the military as they and military discipline are pretty much opposite of each other.

      I have half a clue, because I've run global business networks including the security arm. And the really good security guys are an "interesting" group to manage.

      The discussion here is great, but the order (or 2 orders) of magnitude NATO is behind the Russians should not be minimized.

      The Navy is just now shifting their EW into the digital space. The transition is not complete, and the Russians have been focusing on this for many, many years.

      As has been pointed out repeatedly, US military can't even do well when US military offense comes to bear.

      Can you imagine how bad that is going to be once we are faced with the real, current state of the art?

      The Airforce gets it because they are moving away from GPS to self contained guidance. The Army is fast heading in the same direction.

      The Navy in comparison can't avoid commercial ships even with GPS. May the good Lord help them when they have to go back to paper charts.

    3. My apologies. I should also have pointed out the EW in the classic sense is not even slightly equivalent to Cyber Warfare and should not be mixed in the same discussion.

      Russian EW is outstanding and way, seriously way ahead of NATO.

      I have no opinion about Chinese capability, and I really don't know anyone who does, but worse case assume sharing with Russia.

      When it comes to Cyber warfare, the playing field opens to anything from domestic terrorism to Iran to China to North Korea, to India to Russia and beyond.

      You find talent where you find it. You pay them a bunch of money on a contract basis to make your enemy's life miserable.

      The best brains on the planet are for hire, and a surprising number of them care completely apolitical.

    4. " point of view on this is less than current.

      The military is way below civilian capabilities in this area."

      There is no need for the military to confine themselves to using military personnel. If civilians have more expertise, there is nothing preventing the military from contracting for their services. The military routinely contracts civilian services for all manner of products and services. The military has been using civilian contractors for cyber security for some years in various forms including the famous sponsored 'bounty hunter' attacks on military networks.

    5. Sure. That's the right way to go about it. My larger point is that its important not to conflate cyber security with EW.

      Cyber security is being taken seriously already. EW not so much, but it should be.

  7. Sobering thought: if US Army (just today's example,Im sure the other services do the same) decides for proper "training" we can only "allocate" 10 minutes to jamming and we move on, what other "unpleasantness" gets tossed to the side or removed by magic after 10 minutes? Minefields? Repairs? Bomb damage? Replacements? Everything works 100%? We never run out of gas? We never get lost? Enemy will never do that?!?

    Sounds like US military doesn't really train anymore, we just go thru the motions!!!

    AS somewhat related: everybody seems to be talking about the Russian subs but don't see much talk about US and NATO ASW, we hear Norway intelligence has an idea where the subs are (didn't know Norway CIA has ASW capability) and vague mention of P-8s (are they following these subs?) so why aren't we at sea right now? Russia is sending a message and it appears we can't be bothered. During Cold War, we would have been all over this, now, it's page 14 news...this would have been a great opportunity to run some practice ASW.

  8. I understand why they can't run real jamming scenarios unless they take place in the middle of nowhere. But intentionally self degraded games or situations should occur on a regular basis. What do you do if your GPS is hosed seems easy enough to run.

    So this really looks like a a lack of training without the easy button.

    Seems like a pattern

    Nobody had ever trained at what to do about recovering an injured person from the sea? If the USN can't even run its small boats or recover a dying sailor I doubt they are going to navigate without GPS. But damn sure they will get a few more expensive non useful LCS and a Ford or two.


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