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Adapting Multifunctional Intelligence and Electronic Warfare to Support Maneuver.


Warfare is becoming more challenging with each passing generation. In no facet of warfare is this more relevant than in our struggle to maneuver in today's cyberspace domain, specifically in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). Increasingly contested and congested with more complex and numerous signals, the EMS has become an essential component of our peer adversaries' attempts to present operational dilemmas to the U.S. Army. Operating in this complex environment has created challenges for intelligence collection within a net-dependent force. To address some of these challenges, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE) and U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence (USACCoE) to integrate their signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. These efforts are currently under way.

2018 Joint Operational Integration Assessment

In February and early March 2018, Army and Marine Corps (USMC) SIGINT, EW, and EMS management professionals met at the Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, to take an initial step toward greater integration and interoperability. The event was the first in a series of joint operational integration assessments (JOIAs) and was made possible with funding from the Department of the Army's operations and intelligence staffs, as well as the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors. The purpose of the JOIA is to discover best practices and identify doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) implications for greater sensing and effects on capability and interoperability in joint multi-domain operations. The intent is to demonstrate how the Army and USMC would jointly conduct SIGINT and EW support operations across a congested and contested EMS environment to open windows of opportunity for maneuver forces and provide those forces a decisive advantage.

The objectives of the initial JOIA event focused on observing and documenting Army and USMC staff procedures, staff interactions, and the execution of SIGINT and EW support/electronic attack operations. The complete findings are documented in the JOIA Report (1) This article will focus on three of the most significant DOTMLPF-P findings of the assessment:

* Army and USMC lack the necessary materiel to face the full complement of threat signals of interest.

* Army needs to reevaluate how it staffs its SIGINT and EW forces.

* Current facilities are not conducive to realistic operations in the EMS.

Lack of Necessary Materiel. First, the Army and USMC lack the necessary materiel to face the full complement of threat signals of interest. Currently fielded materiel solutions are not state of the art and the basis of issue is not adequate, leaving commanders without the organic equipment densities required to fight and win in the EMS.

The military does not have the capability required to fight and win in the EMS. Given the changing nature of our threats and the capabilities of our peer competitors, the military needs reinvigorated SIGINT and EW systems that can detect and exploit the full complement of threat signals. These systems will be required to communicate via line of sight and beyond line of sight in order to account for the varied size, terrain, infrastructure, and supporting networks associated with current and future battlefields.

SIGINT and EW are inseparable. EW relies on SIGINT for accurate target decks, and SIGINT exploits the EW sensor data to vastly increase its collection opportunities. Because of this relationship, it is critical that SIGINT and EW systems work together and communicate. Given our reduced forward posture and the great diversity of threats, the SIGINT and EW materiel solutions need to be easily deployable and tailorable to the mission. One of the high points of the initial JOIA event was related to the effectiveness of the Army's Raven Claw, (2) a risk reduction effort for the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT). Raven Claw showed great promise as a means to plan and control effects in the EMS and gained interest as a planning and synchronization possibility for the USMC.

Staffing of SIGINT and EW Forces. Second, the Army needs to reevaluate how it staffs its SIGINT and EW forces. The current designated SIGINT and EW organization is not effective at the tactical echelon, nor is it sufficiently manned to conduct sustained 24-hour operations.

The Army's EW force is not mature. As it grows and begins to have greater capability, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command must review its overall structure. It is not a simple matter of increasing numbers. There must be a viable career path for the Soldiers; they must receive the necessary education for their jobs and for professional growth; and they must have the opportunity to gain the experiences necessary for a greater understanding of SIGINT and EW (and cyberspace) so that they are prepared for each successive rank and the Army's expectations of that rank.

The tactical SIGINT force requires reevaluation in terms of structure, grade plate, and strength. The Army needs to add or increase SIGINT cryptologic support teams at all echelons. The rank structure of the current SIGINT collection teams also requires careful consideration, as it currently consists of junior grade Soldiers. While acknowledging the JOIA event was limited to normal duty hours, it was clearly evident that tactical SIGINT collection teams are not designed for continuous 24-hour operations. The Army needs to rethink its tactical SIGINT and EW structure to effectively support a range of military operations.

Facilities and Training. Third, current facilities are not conducive to realistic operations in the EMS. The military needs more locations where it can train its forces to operate across EMS and in multi-domain operations. The military also needs tools to enable virtual and constructive training when or where live training is not feasible.

As the SIGINT and EW force grows in capability, it will need space to train. The assessment at the Electronic Proving Ground was the first opportunity for many of the Soldiers and Marines to use their equipment in a live environment. Unintentional effects on civilian communications often constrain most military training areas from being able to fully employ their SIGINT and EW systems in the EMS. This results in too few locations for our military to learn how to fight in the EMS. A mitigation for this shortfall is the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Tactical Proficiency Trainer (IEWTPT). As it continues to develop, the goal is to have IEWTPT interface with EWPMT and other mission command systems and become the premier tool for Army training in the EMS. Additionally, all new SIGINT and EW equipment will come with a certain level of embedded training capability. Despite these near-term advances, the military cannot rely solely on virtual and constructive training; it must find ways to incorporate the EMS into live training events at its combat training centers and home stations.

Lessons Learned. The first JOIA event in February 2018 provided pertinent documented lessons learned information needed for joint integrated SIGINT and EW operations, and it identified focal points for the second JOIA event in the second quarter of 2019. Key among those are identifying comprehensive requirements needed in modernizing the equipment, determining proper manning structure of the capabilities, and defining training requirements. As the Army and USMC begin to address these lessons learned, the organizers of the JOIA (USAICoE, USACCoE, and USMC) look forward to challenging the Army and USMC to a more complete assessment next year with the introduction of aerial SIGINT and EW, and a deliberate emphasis on tactical planning and target synchronization. Future assessment events may include the challenge of combined movement and maneuver--if our recent operations are any indication, the U.S. military is unlikely to fight alone anytime soon.

Aerial Layer Challenges and Initiatives

While the first JOIA focused exclusively on the integration of the terrestrial layer of SIGINT and EW, USAICoE is simultaneously working in collaboration with the community of interest to solve the significant challenge of conducting aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and EW in an antiaccess/area denial environment. The challenges primarily revolve around capability gaps in deep sensing, survivability of platforms, data transport in contested environments, and the speed and volume of processing, exploitation, and dissemination requirements in high-intensity operations.

Today's aerial layer is generally built for unchallenged air superiority and is optimized for collection against targets unlike those of peer competitors in large-scale combat operations. The desired end state is a relevant and effective aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance layer that directly supports shared understanding in antiaccess/area denial environments. This will include collection systems with improved survivability, extended range, and leap-ahead technology that address current sensing gaps. It also requires the right doctrinal foundations, institutional training, force mix, and military occupational specialties.

USAICoE concluded its aerial DOTMLPF-P analysis in mid-2018. The results will help inform an aerial layer modernization strategy and a future sensor systems initial capabilities document. In turn, this documentation will support larger modernization efforts.

In particular, significant potential exists for the future integration of SIGINT, EW, and cyberspace sensors in the aerial layer. Tentatively dubbed the Aerial Layer Intelligence-Electronic Warfare System, this future capability will complement the Terrestrial Layer System. Ultimately, this aerial modernization effort will permit the Army to field an organic, multimodal family of integrated collection capabilities, effective at all altitudes and echelons, in order to support a shared understanding and targeting in depth.

These initiatives in both the aerial and terrestrial layers are nested within the national defense strategy as well as in the guidelines of intelligence operations described in FM 2-0, Intelligence: (3)

* Maintain readiness.

* Ensure continuous intelligence operations.

* Orient on requirements.

* Provide mixed and redundant coverage.

* Gain and maintain sensor contact.

* Report information rapidly and accurately.

* Provide early warning.

* Retain freedom of movement.


The operational challenge posed by the advent of the antiaccess/area denial battlefield environment, as well as the identified shortcomings in the existing SIGINT and EW enterprise, necessitates deliberate change in order to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage over peer adversaries. The successful reintegration of these capabilities on the battlefield requires unity of effort with the total Army across all components, commands, and staffs.


(1.) U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Army/USMC Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Electronic Warfare (EW), and Cyber Joint Operational Integration Assessment (JOIA) Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership & Education, Personnel, Facilities--Policy (DOTMLPF-P) Report, 15 June 2018.

(2.) The Army's Raven Claw was designed "to work networked or in a Disconnected, Intermittent or Latent (DIL) doesn't depend on a host server or external data, but rather can function on its own with last known data and real-time feeds from sensors providing electronic support to do its work. Raven Claw is contained in a ruggedized military laptop--for now--that integrates with other Army systems until an appropriate hosting environment is introduced into Army formations." John Higgins, "Raven Claw Augments Battle Management for Electronic Warfare Operations," U.S. Army Worldwide News, January 22, 2018,

(3.) Department of the Army, Field Manual 2-0, Intelligence (Washington DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office, 6 July 2018), 3-7.

by Colonel Mark Dotson, Colonel Jennifer McAfee, and Colonel Francesca Ziemba

COL Mark Dotson, COL Jennifer McAfee, and COL Francesco Ziemba currently serve as the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Capability Managers for Electronic Warfare, Terrestrial & Identity, and Aerial, respectively.
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Author:Dotson, Colonel Mark; McAfee, Colonel Jennifer; Ziemba, Colonel Francesca
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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