Electromagnetic Spectrum Maneuver Warfare

By Vice Adm. Ted N. “Twig” Branch
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2/N6)

In a recent speech, CNO outlined his four areas of focus for 2014. One of those is “Electromagnetic Spectrum Maneuver Warfare (EMMW).” That title may be a tongue twister, but the underlying concept will prove critical to Navy warfighting success in the coming decades.

A radar dish aboard Mobile At-Sea Sensor (MATSS) barge (IX-524) undergoes final testing before upcoming flight test mission FTM-16. MATSS provides advanced remote telecommunications capability that extends the reach of the 42,000 square-mile Pacific Missile Range, the world's largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supported surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously.

A radar dish aboard Mobile At-Sea Sensor (MATSS) barge (IX-524) undergoes final testing before upcoming flight test mission FTM-16.

 

EMMW is an operational approach to seizing the initiative across the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). The goal is to combine EMMW capabilities in the sea, air and land domains to generate enhanced combat effects. EMMW, in essence, means leveraging the cyberspace domain and the full electromagnetic spectrum for both offensive and defensive effects.

EMMW is not a program, or system, or even a refined concept of operations. It is an emerging operational art, one we must master to fully understand the battlespace. We must then use that awareness to better employ our own forces while altering the enemy’s perception of the battlespace and minimizing his freedom of maneuver within it.

Shooters aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) give the signal to launch an E-2C Hawkeye from the Liberty Bells of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115 from the ship's flight deck.

Shooters aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) give the signal to launch an E-2C Hawkeye from the Liberty Bells of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115 from the ship’s flight deck.

 

As information, carried as Internet Protocol formatted data, becomes increasingly integrated with the transmission medium (e.g. light in a fiber optic cable, terrestrial radio waves, or satellite links), our ability to leverage the EMS in its entirety and counter the adversary’s use of it becomes an essential element of any Navy operation. EMMW is about protecting our networks, infiltrating the enemy’s networks, jamming, and leveraging all of our sensors and transmitters so that we maintain the freedom to act across the entire spectrum.

Our initial focus on mastering EMMW has been on the cyberspace mission area, putting in place the required manpower structure and creating the necessary organizational constructs. That effort continues, but we are now broadening our focus to include the entirety of the EMS. Moreover, we are building on the work undertaken in the last several years to improve our Electronic Warfare systems in the face of sophisticated anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) threats.

I believe EMMW is so critical to our future that I wanted to highlight it here. From the newest seaman apprentice to our most senior leaders, fleet support of the concept and its underlying technologies is essential to our mastering and controlling the spectrum.

We’ve clearly made great strides in the cyberspace domain and in improving our EW capabilities. We must now embrace this EMMW approach, train to it, practice it, develop innovative applications and make it second nature across the fleet.

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Michael Isenmann prepares to work on an SPS-49 radar antenna aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Michael Isenmann prepares to work on an SPS-49 radar antenna aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

 

If you look around on any ship, submarine or aircraft, you’ll see all the antennas, transmitters, receivers, etc. we use to communicate, track our adversaries and employ our weapons systems. All that gear operates using the EMS. It is abundantly clear that we depend on operations across the EMS to bring our forces to the fight, and to decrease the adversary’s combat capability.

EMMW is crucial to our ability to win in the information age. You’ll hear more from us as we develop and improve the way we integrate and use the systems operating in and through the electromagnetic spectrum.