Army Merging Electronic Warfare, Cyber Ops

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Illustration: Getty

In order to tackle growing cyber threats from around the globe, the Army is beginning to integrate cyber, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and military intelligence operations, service officials have recently said.

“You need all of those to come together if you’re really going to deliver the effects that you need,” said Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commanding general of the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Over the past year, the service has been at work fusing these elements, he said during a panel discussion at a recent cybersecurity event hosted by the Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

“If we had been up here last year we wouldn’t have had a whole lot of things to tell you about. But, boy, what a difference a year makes,” Morrison said.

In that timeframe, the Army decided to move forward with transitioning electronic warfare professionals into its cyber branch. That will be completed Oct. 1, he noted.

“It’s a process that is already ongoing,” he said. “The reality is that we’re already moving in that direction now and we’ll start doing mobile training teams for our electronic warfare professionals” starting in early 2018.

Brig. Gen. Neil S. Hersey, commandant of the Army’s Cyber Center and School, said soldiers studying electronic warfare would be transitioning into the school over the next year.

The service has also validated necessary requirements and is beginning to field new capabilities into the force, such as the electronic warfare planning and management tool, Morrison said.

Additionally, the Army is employing cross-functional teams and is facilitating the rapid prototyping of new systems.

In December, the service received approval from the Joint Requirements Oversight Council — which greenlights projects — for the ground-based portion of the next-generation terrestrial layer intelligence system, or TLIS, he said. That will fuse signals intelligence with electronic warfare, giving commanders the option to employ both of those effects at the tactical level, he added.

The program is fully funded. An airborne component was still pending approval at the time of the event, he noted.

As the Army worked to develop the TLIS requirements, it was initially stovepiped and fragmented, Morrison said.

"The service is planning to prioritize flexibility..."

“You had our intel brothers and sisters over here developing their own requirements document,” he said. “We were at Fort Gordon in happy bliss developing our electronic warfare requirements document, but when we stepped back and took a look at it we were getting ready to do a disservice on two levels.”

First, the service was attempting to buy two separate and distinct systems, he said. It was also preparing to put capabilities into operational formations that did not bring an integrated effect to maneuver commanders.

The service took a step back and then came together to create one cohesive requirement, he noted. “It was an unnatural act for the Army to sit there and see two disparate centers of excellence bring together one integrated requirement, but I’m very pleased with how the Army reacted to it.”

Maj. Gen. Patricia A. Frost, director of cyber at the Army’s office of the deputy chief of staff, said the service is working to develop technology at a rapid pace.

“We’re not going to wait the six, 10 years of building the perfect piece of kit,” she said. “We’re going to look at prototyping and a risk reduction/risk mitigation methodology.”

Frost noted that the service cannot move forward alone. “We need academia. We need industry,” she said.

Going forward, industry should not expect to receive requirement documents that are overly technical in nature, Morrison said.

“What you’re going to see inside these documents are operationally based requirements,” he said. “We are going to set it in such a manner that we can do iterative development.”

The service is planning to prioritize flexibility because as adversaries develop new technology they are not following the Pentagon’s acquisition process and locking in a program of record for the next two decades, he said. “Neither can we,” he added.

The Army’s increased focus on integrating cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence operations comes at a time when other nations, such as Russia, are beefing up their own capabilities, said retired Col. Laurie Moe Buckhout, who now serves as the president and CEO of the Corvus Group, a Virginia-based consulting firm.

“There is no doubt that they have been active on social media,” she said. “They have been active in fake news, they have been active in … putting out some ideas that would sow confusion in an adversary. … Their means to deliver that confusion, if you will, deliver that attack, has been through cyber space.”

Russia has already employed such tactics against Ukraine, she noted.

“They were jamming out the ability for the Ukrainians to have their own radio waves, … to have their own TV stations,” she said. “They were taking over the propaganda capabilities through the [radio frequency]. … They kind of shut down the ability of the Ukrainian people to control their own information environment.”

The Russians look at information warfare, coupled with jamming and cyber attacks, as a long-term tool, she added.

However, Buckhout said, there is more collaboration within the Army with regard to electronic warfare and cyber than she has seen in more than a decade.

Capabilities “are coming out in a manner that shows complete cooperation and collaboration across the Army and even the joint force and elsewhere, where that never happened before,” she said. “You finally have people working together.”

Topics: Cyber, Cybersecurity

Comments (2)

Re: Army Merging Electronic Warfare, Cyber Ops

I'm a former SIGINT/EW officer and an enlisted 98G Russian linguist. Merging all of these disciplines virtually guarantees that EW will be shortchanged in resources AND will be unnecessarily put behind SAP/STO "green doors" like those that now wall off Offensive Cyber Operations. All the funding will go to the "sexy" Cyber stuff and EW programs will go unfunded, as we have already seen.
There are some common supporting elements in SIGINT, EW and Cyber, but much that is involved with electromagnetic systems warfare (e.g., jamming, deception, meaconing, and interference) has nothing to do with the IP-based networks that define cyber operations. Need some fenced money for EW that cannot be poached by Cyber, since there will NEVER be enough for everything we need.

Hugh Blanchard at 11:03 PM
Re: Army Merging Electronic Warfare, Cyber Ops

The author, Yasmin, has failed to prove why Retire COL Buckhout's comments are important or apropos. The COL's quote adds nothing to the poorly written story.

Hugh Jorgan at 11:00 AM
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