Written by Yuri Gorbachev; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
Previously, potential opponents only observed the superiority of the US in the use of electronic instruments on the battlefield for various purposes, but recently they began to produce them and took orderly, well-funded measures to bridge the gap. The Pentagon is alarmed by its leadership loss.
In the 20th century, assessing the operational situation, the military paid particular attention to the timely reception of reliable data on the status and potential of electronic tools in the war theater. The registration, evaluation and modification of these reports allowed to determine the electronic environment such as work conditions of the regional power grid. Thus the electronic setup was part of the strategic, operational and tactical picture. In the 21st century, the assessment of the operational environment became much more complicated. This is connected with the development of information technologies, brought into the armies of the world, new means of troops control and weapons, systems of combat control and communications, electronic and opto-electronic destruction, electronic intelligence and combat, other radio-electronic tools, from which depends the efficiency of operations. The appearance of high-precision weapons and information, new areas of warfare, the organisation and conduct of network-centric operations have changed the nature of the information environment, increased the complexity of evaluating and registering its influence on the efficiency of operations.
Today the foreign MSM often use new terms such as “electromagnetic environment” and “cyber electromagnetic activities”.
The electromagnetic environment in the US and other NATO countries, part of the information environment such as a set of electromagnetic emissions of radio-electronic and other tools, sources of electromagnetic energy in the course of their work.
Cyber electromagnetic activities, is the capture, retention, preservation and use of advantages over enemies in cyber and electromagnetic fields while simultaneously depriving the enemy of its possibilities for adequate responses, to protect their control systems.
The purpose of cyber electromagnetic activities is to integrate and synchronise the functions and military possibilities of cyber operations and electronic warfare and in managing the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS), when addressing conflict situations. Cyber electromagnetic activities are operations in cyber space, resolution of electronic warfare and the management of using the electromagnetic spectrum.
We will look at the impact of the electronic environment on the conduct of future military operations and the importance of correctly understanding the essence of evaluation and its parameters, as well as the differences in the content of the terms “electronic warfare” and “radio-electronic warfare”.
The Spectrum of Warfare
In 2013, at the “Military Security of Russia: the 21st Century” conference, the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Army General Valery Gerasimov stated: “The centre of military action is shifting towards the aerospace and the information sphere. The concept of the so-called network-centric warfare is actively developing.” The general noted that the dependence of the progress and outcome of the war on the use of high-tech action increases, information and special operations will take a unique place. In 2016 in the article “Hybrid War Demands High-Tech Weapons and Scientific Support”, Gerasimov again pays attention to the fact that in current conflicts warfare is increasingly shifting towards a complex application of political, economic and other non-military measures as a support for military forces. Their content is to achieve political goals primarily through information technology pressure. According to him, information resources are the most effective weapons and should focus on the promising directions of military research, space warfare and in the information environment.
Great attention must be given to the nature and methods of warfare in the complex electronic environment abroad, especially in the US. The head of the Information Operations of the U.S. Armed Forces, D. Burke already in 2009 said that the united strategic command developed a promising concept, informally referred to as “Electromagnetic Spectrum Warfare” (EMSW). According to him, it will replace the concept of “Electronic Warfare”. The idea is to associate the role and functions of electronic warfare with the use of electromagnetic warfare, by providing the US free access to frequency bands of the spectrum and the effective solution of electronic warfare (attacks and defences) to achieve information superiority over any opponent. In June 2013, Burke stated that the current electronic warfare strategy requires a detailed study in connection with the new concept of development of the US Armed Forces, providing for the establishment of the army manoeuvre (combat) commanders. Their effectiveness depends on the integration of forces and tools of electronic warfare and operations in computer network operations under the unified command of the Center to ensure information superiority of the Armed Forces.
On April 23rd 2015, the President of the Science Committee of the US Department of Defense (DoD) K. Fields reported to the Deputy Secretary of Defense the research results of local wars and armed conflicts and the conclusions about the prospects of operations in a complex electromagnetic environment. For two years a group of Pentagon experts and specialists analysed military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (2002, 2004, 2006), as well as Georgia (2008). The report noted that the ability of the Armed Forces to create and sustain information superiority in future operations on providing military and political success for the US has decreased. The report stressed the unprecedented speed of development and the global spread of modern information technologies, increasing the importance of electronic warfare “battles” for the success of military operations. According to Fields, the research allowed the study of existing and future forces, systems and means of electronic warfare, carry out an examination of their capabilities and evaluate the technical and operational efficiency up to 2035. Thus they determined methods and techniques, allowing them to lower or exclude serious disadvantages/shortcomings, identified in the organs and systems of the armed forces in a difficult electromagnetic environment. The report proposes to create a universal approach in the study of issues related to electromagnetic environment, and to continue to examine the efficiency of solving tasks of electronic warfare taking into account all technical, operational features, phases of military operations and all levels of management, but also possible countermeasures of a potential enemy. This should reveal the importance and significance of the relationship between the various components of combat capabilities of troops, to assess the impact of electronic warfare on the course and outcome of operations in all areas of military action, establish the relationship and mutual influence of the tools of electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting and troop command, to clarify the organisation of communications and information security, the use of weapons, determining the exact position of troops.
The analysis allows to calculate the efficiency of electronic warfare in terms of dynamic control of the EMS and the necessary organisation of troops to ensure advances over potential enemies, to find ways of reducing or removing unintended effects (interference) of the multi-functional electronic systems and tools (including electronic warfare) in combat and electromagnetic environments, to identify the possibility of achieving and maintaining a comprehensive (including informational) superiority over the enemy. In this regard, the Science Committee considers necessary:
- the development and application of new systems and tools of electronic warfare in offensive and defensive operations of the future;
- the development and use of tools and methods of modeling and simulation of the electromagnetic environment to assess the possible mutual influence of forces and means of electronic warfare on their own troops and the enemy on the efficiency of military operations by the US armed forces;
- the improvement of structures and strength of electronic warfare, their equipment and staffing, training and continuing training for specialists;
- the conduct of required tests and evaluations of the effectiveness of forces, systems and tools of electronic warfare, forecast of their expected impact on electromagnetic and combat situations, the determination of the response to the changes;
- the development of programs, considering the list of developed recommendations for all levels of government (including at the level of defense and commanders of the armed forces).
According to the US DoD the implementation by 2020 of these recommendations will cost 2.3 billion dollars. The committee is well aware that failure to allocate the provisions it will create serious risks to the information and electromagnetic dominance of the USA in future operations. As noted, the loss of superiority was facilitated by three factors. First, the impact of 25 years of neglect of electronic warfare after the Cold War. As a result, the US lost the leadership in this field. Second, the 20th century saw a wave of international migration of promising information technologies, the opportunity of creating new electronic technologies, using software and modular architecture. This fully applies the tools of electronic warfare. With their propagation training and education for relevant specialists organised in countries not only with a high level of science and technology, but also in less developed countries. The tools of electronic warfare, techniques and methods of their use have become more accessible to terrorist groups and organisations. Finally, it became clear that potential adversaries, previously only observed the superiority of the US in the use on the battlefield electronic tools for various purposes, began to create them and took organised, well-funded steps to bridge the gap.
In this regard, it is suggested:
- to learn to manage dynamically the EMS, to eliminate existing problems and effectively use the frequencies to extend the range of use of the spectrum management operations in the direction of both high and low frequencies;
- to improve the skills of the personnel in the use of frequencies of the EMS and controls for the managements of subordinates in solving problems of electronic warfare in real time operations, to learn how to effectively use the electronic warfare software;
- to change to a more widespread use of forces and means of electronic attacks for an effective conduct of electronic warfare and military operations in general.
We can assume that the command of the US Armed Forces, and based on the research to improve its forces, systems and tools of electronic warfare, develops methods for dynamic management of EMS operations by the military forces. This is evidenced by the publication in 2012-2014 of the new instructions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the statutes of the US Armed Forces, which streamline and improve the forms, methods, targets of electronic warfare and clarify the responsibility of officials in the conduct of information operations, providing security and dynamic management of the EMS in battle conditions, as well as integrating all cyber electromagnetic activities of the Armed Forces in peace time, in emergency situations and in operations.
The measures taken indicate the formation of a new organisational structure, responsible for cyber electromagnetic activities, and integrating management functions for the US Armed Forces in this area. One of the military journals reported that from 2013 the structure of the operational management of the headquarters of the Strategic Command of the US Armed Forces operates the department of operational management (J3-E), coordinating all cyber electromagnetic activities not only their own, but the Armed Forces overall, the dynamic management of the EMS, determining checklists and planning electronic warfare objectives in a crisis situation and in military operations. The head of the department is Brigadier-General R. Evans. As Deputy Head of global operations management of the Combined Headquarters of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he will promote the combat readiness of the armed forces, the tasks of command and control, planning of space, nuclear and cyber operations, as well as provide maintenance of electronic warfare and combined (all components of the Armed Forces or elements of military groups), the use of EMS in daily activities and operations of the US Armed Forces.
A Front Without Flanks
Military actions in the information sphere have peculiarities. So, in the information sphere there is no clear spatial or temporal boundaries. Thus the activities may be both local and global, simultaneously encompassing not only areas of military activity, its troops and its enemy, but also the most important facilities and infrastructure of the opposing side.
Military actions in the information sphere are anonymous and secretive. It is very difficult to uncover the aggressor, his identity, information weapons and software and technical support. Military actions in the information sphere influence (sometimes decisively) the direction, methods and results of troop actions and in the other four areas (air, ground, sea and space), as well as on the efficiency of the operation as a whole.
According to the views of some Western military experts, depriving the enemy of the ability to use 50 percent or more of their information management capabilities (forces, weapons and military equipment) will be a motivation to initiate and continue military actions in other areas and military operations in general.
In accordance with the unified to all US Armed Forces instructions (JP 1-02, JP 3-13, JP 3-13.1, JP 6-01 published in 2012-2014) electronic warfare is defined as any action of troops (forces), including the use of the energy of electromagnetic waves (emission) and directed energy to control the EMS or the immediate impact on the enemy. Thus the directed energy, in the American military experts terminology, a generalising term covering technology production of emissions of concentrated electromagnetic energy or atomic rays, subatomic particles. In the JP 3-13.1 instructions, it is stated “Electronic warfare is a very important form of protection of military (combat) actions of their troops (forces) and the weakening of enemy actions associated with the use of EMS on the entire depth of the operational environment.”
Such documents of the US Armed Forces in the area of electronic warfare as the instruction JP 3-13.1, the field manual FM 3-36 SV, and others define the constituent elements of electronic warfare, their content and objectives. These include Electronic Attacks (EA), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Warfare Support (EWS).
Electronic Attack (EA) refers to the use of electromagnetic, directed energy or anti-emission weapons to influence the personnel, facilities or equipment, leading to reduced efficiency or to supress the combat capabilities. EA includes electromagnetic interference (active and passive), including equipment and systems for single, collective or group protection of military equipment and weapons systems, and the application of tools for damaging positioning systems, navigation and determining the exact time, of electromagnetic disinformation, of one-time use (infrared, active and passive decoys, electromagnetic traps), heat-seeking weapons.
By means of directed energy refers to the technical devices and non-lethal effects, and under directed energy weapons, the tools and systems that have lethal effects.
EA, actions are directed at preventing, reducing the efficiency or eliminating the possibilities of use by the enemy of the electromagnetic spectrum, reducing the effectiveness of command of troops and weapons through the use of systems, tools and weapons that use electromagnetic or other forms of directed energy. For example, for jamming, impairment, termination or destruction of electronic systems and equipment, weapons and military equipment on the basis of microelectronic devices. The use of emissions of electromagnetic or directed energy is called active electronic attack and passive jamming, decoys, deflectors and traps are passive electronic attacks. Forces and tools of EA are used for attack as well as defence. Under an attack, the effects are not only felt on military equipment, but systems equipped with radio electronic devices and facilities and enemy soldiers.
Electronic Protection (EP) includes managing the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, increasing the protective properties of radio-electronic tools and personnel, various systems and other electronic equipment, military equipment and weapons systems from any effects of emissions of electromagnetic energy. Protection is built against the enemy, against the emissions, electronic tools or neutral forces, natural phenomena and the environment.
An integral part of EP is the control of electromagnetic and other emissions, affecting the efficiency of military actions. It also provides the interoperability of electronic tools and protection, target distribution, targeting, designation and activation of military equipment and weapons.
Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) is carried out under the direct supervision of the commander. The tasks of the EWS is the search, surveillance, interception, identifying the most important objectives, getting a fix on coordinates of sources of electromagnetic energy for immediate threat recognition, determine the impact of objects, targeting, assessment of electromagnetic environment, preparation of proposals for decision-making by command.
The rapid development of information technologies and radio electronics, the sharp increase in the number of weapons and military equipment on the basis of radio electronic means, primarily the high-precision weapons, the militarisation of outer space, the appearance of information weapons and cyber warfare, as well as the creation of “cyber armies” (cyber command) led to the emergence of the fifth area of reference of military action, information warfare. With the creation of a single information space, automation of command and control processes, the conduct of network-centric operations of military action in the information sphere took a new form and is considered as one of the key components of military operations. This changed the capabilities of the armed forces, forms and methods of military action and electronic warfare. Tasks and parties of an armed confrontation “left” in the information sphere. In the armies of the leading countries documents are reprinted defining concepts and strategies of information and radio electronic war, introducing a new strategic category, “information operations”, identifying its tasks and use of power and instruments.
In 2000, the USA issued a memorandum that defined the Armed Forces, directions for their structure, development and application until 2020. In 2012-2014 they renewed the statutes: “Information Operations”, “Electronic Warfare”, “Managing the Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum”, “Providing Security Operations for the Joint Forces in the War Theater”, “Providing Security for Combat Actions”. They specify the categories, tasks, forms, methods and composition of the information operations forces, including electronic warfare, the characteristics of military actions conduct are covered and the operational management use of EMS. It is a changing approach for cyber and electromagnetic activities, developing new documents, defining the procedures for managing cyber electromagnetic activities.
In 2013 the bodies of reference of electronic warfare and the control of the use of EMS were united under the leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under the authority of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff William Gortney the doctrine for electronic warfare was updated, the newly defined strategic category, “Operations in the EMS”, “Managing Military Actions in the EMS”, “Operations Management of the EMS”, reveal the interrelation of electronic warfare and the outer space, cyber and navigation operations, combat with positioning and precision of time systems. In March 2014, the US Secretary of Defense issued Directive 3224.4 that defined the basis of the electronic warfare strategy and duties of officials and the Armed Forces in its implementation.
The doctrine update is related to the changing nature of military action at the beginning of the 21st century, the emergency of the fifth sphere of conducting military action, equivalent to the other four, and retaining this quality in teachings and charters, influencing the nature and methods of military action in the information sphere for conducting operations in other areas, the possibility of maintaining military action in the information sphere, the complexity of the analysis and assessment of the information environment has become a critical part of the operational environment and in many ways it defines it.
Candidate of military sciences, Colonel, ret.