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Time to break out the pointy sticks.

Kirkhill

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Well, maybe not today.... but what if tomorrow?

The Army Can Now Stop Enemy Tanks In Their Tracks Without Firing A Shot

By JARED KELLER  on June 8, 2017 T&P ON FACEBOOK
 
U.S. Army personnel have successfully used advanced electronic warfare technology to completely disable enemy armor during a simulated tank assault at the Army National Training Center, Defense Systems reports.

Developed by the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), the combination of wireless communications-jamming and hacker exploits of vehicle systems forces enemy tanks to “stop, dismount, get out of their protection, [and] reduce their mobility,” as one Army observer described the ANTC training exercise at Fort Irwin, California.

This is only the second major Army test of tactical electronic warfare in recent history. In April, the RCO outfitted nearly 20 soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in Vilseck, Germany, with advanced electronic warfare equipment for field-testing, the first time an Army electronic warfare system had been deployed in a tactical environment.

Barely the size of “a lightweight backpack,” the vehicle- and -infantry portable kits come with two primary capabilities: VROD (Versatile Radio Observation & Direction) to “detect and understand” enemy electromagnetic signals, and the so-called VMAX to “search and attack” with “electronic attack effects” that the Army RCO described as “more effective than the existing jammers used by anti-missile systems in aircraft.”

The two tests signal critical milestones in the Department of Defense’s mission to transform “cyber soldiers” from DARPA pipe-dream to tactical tool, a stark contrast to then-Pentagon research and engineering chief Alan Shaffer’s harsh observation in 2014 that the US “[had] lost the electromagnetic spectrum.”

As Breaking Defense points out, the Army drastically scaled back its electronic warfare branch at the end of the Cold War. And while the Pentagon has put a premium on cybersecurity and operations over the last several years, the separate military domain of battlefield-level electronic warfare, “tactical cyber” — “the art of detecting, disrupting, and deceiving” radio and electromagnetic signals — taking a backseat to warding off Russian and Chinese hackers and securing essential systems and infrastructure.

Since the Army’s official electronic warfare program reportedly won’t field an operational offensive jammer until 2023, then-Army Secretary Eric Fanning and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in 2015 tasked the RCO with a $100 million budget to develop and test various electronic warfare prototypes as quickly as possible within the next five years. And in 2016, the Army began exploring the development of a brand new electronic warfare unit to see battle alongside their fellow rifleman.

“The mission analysis just starts today,” Army cyber chief Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost told reporters in December 2016, emphasizing the rapid development of electronic warfare specialists to start reclaiming the virtual battlefield ceded over the last several decades. “With the analysis that we’re doing over the next three to six months, we’ll rack and stack what are the capabilities that exist today that can allow us to experiment.”

In light of Russia’s territorial aspirations in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe, field-testing the new electronic warfare kits out of Vilseck, nestled between vulnerable NATO allies like Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. According to RCO director Doug Wiltsie, the latest versions will see operational testing as part of the multinational U.S. European Command exercise Saber Guardian with 20 partner nations in October.

But don’t expect to see the new electronic warfare kits floating around your barracks anytime soon. According to Wiltsie, the Army plans on incorporating soldier feedback and concerns into addition testing from July through Saber Guardian in October before eventually fielding the new EW kits to soldiers downrange by the end of 2017.

“This is not the enduring program,” Wiltse said during the C4ISRNET annual conference in Washington D.C. in May. “We’re looking at electronic warfare for one theater, [and] the requirement that I will meet when we field this stuff by the end of this year will be nowhere near the full capability.”

http://taskandpurpose.com/army-electronic-warfare-system-kit/
 

George Wallace

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"A simulated tank assault at the Army National Training Center"?.  Is it not quite easy to do just that, with or without EW?  I mean, simply pulling the plug on the computers or servers would stop a simulated tank assault.  Just as in the old days, a coffee break would stop a simulated battle on the Sand Table.

[:D
 

McG

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"Simulation" is not a synonym for virtual reality.  A simulation is just something that models reality without being the real thing.  A real-world live fire platoon attack against an empty target position is a simulation.  A brigade level WES exercise is a simulation.  If a battalion of tanks is following a trace and is actually stopped by an EW/cyber strike, then that would be a "simulated tank assault" getting disabled.

Given that the article did not specify the type of simulation, I would not so quickly dismiss the results.
 

The Bread Guy

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The original source article suggests (but only slightly more) real tanks on the ground ...
Army trainers successfully used cyber weapons and electronic warfare (EW) technology to thwart a simulated tank assault at a training exercise conducted at the Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The exercise reinforced the need for the EW and cyber protection technology that is under development by entities such as the Army Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and U.S. Cyber Command.

“These tanks had to stop, dismount, get out of their protection, reduce their mobility,” said Capt. George Puryear, an Irregular Operations Officer at Fort Irwin. As a result, they were easily defeated.

The cyber weapon used in the exercise specifically targeted the radio and wireless communication systems of the tankers. Cyber warfare can include both jamming of communication signals and hacker infiltration into networks, which they can then either disable or manipulate to relay false information to commanders from within their own networks. This capability was also demonstrated in the exercise at Fort Irwin, according to an Army official ...
 
J

jollyjacktar

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Puts me in mind of the new vehicle demobilizer that has recently become available to law enforcement to shut down suspect's vehicles in high speed pursuits.
 

The Bread Guy

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The Pentagon Info-machine has a bit more detail about the capability ...
Invisible War: ‘Dagger’ brigade’s electronic warfare Soldiers prove concept at NTC
Story by Sgt. Michael Roach
19th Public Affairs Detachment


During their recent rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, consolidated their cyber electromagnetic activities’ (CEMA) electronic warfare (EW) Soldiers into a front-line force that engaged the opposition on a less-traditional battlefield.

“Everyone thinks that it is Jedi mind tricks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Connolly, 2nd ABCT’s CEMA noncommissioned officer in charge. “Everyone is so used to shooting a bullet and seeing it hit a target, or shooting rounds and seeing stuff get blown up. People don’t really understand the cyber or EW fight until they’re being jammed on everything.”

EW Soldiers locate enemy transmissions on the electromagnetic spectrum and use what they find to determine, among other things, the location of the enemy.

“A lot of stuff nowadays has some type of emitter from cell phones to wireless mice … no one can see it,” Connolly said. “Our target is stuff like that on the (electromagnetic) spectrum such as communications, data links like Wi-Fi, anything like that is what we are here to target in order to facilitate the commanders on the field.”

The role that Connolly and his Soldiers played at NTC in April and May was a new opportunity for them, he said. Traditionally electronic warfare personnel have been designated to battalion and brigade operations shops as planners, rather than hands-on professionals on the front lines. However, 2nd ABCT embraced the changing role of electronic warfare. By building on what other units have been doing across the Army, the Dagger brigade was able to use these personnel in concert with maneuver elements.

“It’s definitely a whole new concept for the Army — putting electronic warfare specialists on the front lines — but, they actually did it way back in the 80s and in Vietnam too,” Connolly said. While previous incarnations of EW involved intercepting enemy communications, the current legacy has been building on that endeavor.

“We set up into three different teams,” Connolly said. “Two electronic warfare support teams … which pretty much monitor indicators and warnings so if something comes up we can warn people around us. Then we had one electronic attack team, which those guys would be my jammers on the ground if I needed it. Which we did use them to jam, same thing with our two enabler teams.”

In addition to simply jamming an enemy signal, modern EW Soldiers with the right equipment are capable of much more, Connolly said. When dealing with unmanned aircraft systems, the team has a host of options that include downing the aircraft, or even requiring it to return to a designated landing area.

“We were able to do a lot of new stuff and it pretty much shaped the battlefield a whole lot more against the OPFOR (opposing force),” Connolly said, “just because they were so used to using their UAS to be able to call for fire all the time on all the units. No one could do anything about it. But we were able to do it, we were able to shut down 60 percent of their UAS missions.”

Taking away a large part of the OPFOR’s surveillance made for fewer battalion and brigade jumps, saving time and energy throughout the unit.

“Once we intercept it, we figure out if it allowed for jamming or not,” Connolly said. Following the intercept and determination, the rest of the training became notional as the EW teams didn’t want to potentially destroy the expensive UAS systems.

The teams found themselves capable of stopping additional threats and hampering the OPFOR on the ground as well.

“It’s not just UAS; we found a few observation points we called for fire on,” Connolly said.

Having been spread across the brigade up until the rotation, there were some tactical hiccups within the teams that required some effort before cohesion was built, according to Connolly. However, by the end of the rotation, EW Soldiers from multiple battalions were working together as one solidified asset.

“One thing that I’ve noticed with all of the EW NCOs, as soon as we heard that we were consolidating for NTC, we all wanted it to succeed,” Connolly said. “Not just for the consolidation part afterwards, but we actually got to go do our jobs so a lot of the EW NCOs were extremely motivated.”

EW Soldiers who work closely with planning operations to provide support also saw the benefit of having teams in the field.

“It is better for them to be in the field where they can actually do their job, like triangulating signals,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Nussbaumer, 2nd ABCT CEMA spectrum manager. “If they were at the TOC (tactical operations center) location they wouldn’t be able to do that. (It allowed for) quicker, more accurate reporting.”

Communication between the spectrum manager and the EW teams helped expedite the process of elimination when attempting to detect enemy threats.

“Anybody could be out there with let’s say a spectrum analyzer and see a bunch of lines but not know exactly what it is,” said Sgt. Albert Manglona, electronic warfare NCO. “I was on both sides, for the first couple of days I was with the teams and I was with the TOC. From the TOC’s perspective it is good that they were out because, it gives the TOC a better understanding of what is out there. Having them (EW teams) relay back whatever information they pick up or basically whatever they detect. Rather than just hearing it from unit’s who (might) not necessarily know what they are looking at.”

Ultimately the EW consolidation proved fruitful for Dagger brigade, which has decided to keep EW Soldiers from across the formation consolidated.

We “proved the concept of consolidation,” Nussbaumer said. “I think the command teams now have a better understanding of how valuable EW is. It’s a lot easier for them now that they know how it works and what asset it brings to the table, they’re more willing to give up their EW NCOs for consolidation so that it better supports the team as a whole.”

Staying consolidated will also have benefits to the EW Soldiers with both their tactical and technical skills as well as their careers, Connolly said.

“Now I have EWOs (electronic warfare noncommissioned officers) surrounded by EWOs so whenever we do training we can bounce ideas off of each other,” Connolly said. “You try and do training at the battalion level when you’re the only EWO or there’s only two, you don’t get much discussion.”

Looking forward, members of the newly consolidated EW teams are planning to further prove themselves during Dagger brigade’s upcoming Europe rotation and capitalize on their success at NTC.

“It was a big eye opener for the entire brigade to see what we can do when we are all consolidated,” Manglona said. “Before it was just word of mouth, someone was saying it was best that we put everyone together, but after NTC it proved that it was beneficial.”
 

Kirkhill

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I guess we don't have to worry about the pointy sticks just yet.

If we can't play the American game then they will let us play our game........Even if that means ceding the field to the enemy?  So sporting.

http://www.c4isrnet.com/articles/us-may-forgo-using-ew-capabilities-if-coalition-tech-isnt-compatible

US may forgo using EW capabilities if coalition tech isn't compatible

By: Mark Pomerleau, June 23, 2017

In a high-end fight, the U.S. might opt out of using high-tech gear if a partner's capability is not on the same level, according to the DoD's deputy director of electronic warfare.

“If our doctrine evolved and [partners’] did not, most likely in a high-end fight we would chose to not use many of our high-end capabilities because it would interfere too much with their capabilities,” William Conley said during a presentation at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on June 22.

Conley acknowledged that over the last decade, NATO has substantially revolutionized its doctrine in this space. But given that the U.S. rarely fights alone, it’s capabilities have to be compatible or at least shareable in some way, shape or form with allies, “such that they don’t turn around and go 'what’s that,' assume it was an adversary system … and turn around and begin trying to deny us.”

If the spectrum is not managed properly, friendly systems can interfere with each other and backfire, jamming friendly communications. During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, electromagnetic countermeasures were used to detect and defeat improvised explosive devices. But despite the success of these countermeasures, they prevented friendly forces from communicating because they jammed everything as opposed to targeting a specific frequency within the spectrum.

“We have to balance what is the necessary or needed capability and what is the security risk of what we are able to go do,” Conley told reporters following his presentation. “There are a lot of lessons learned about how to fight as a coalition force over the last 15 years that I think are very important.”

He added that there are still some lessons left to learn — indicating that the situation in and of itself is a limitation in terms of what can be done today, but he said the U.S. and coalition forces have the opportunity to improve.

The Army has identified gaps in electronic warfare in the European theater, as compared to those in Russia’s arsenal and used to great effect in Ukraine. The Army’s Rapid Capabilities Office has delivered its near-term EW solution to Europe and is awaiting feedback.

Conley said one of the steps the U.S. is taking to make sure it is in lockstep with allies invovles ensuring the DoD’s recently published EW strategy was shareable and releasable to foreign partners.

Additionally, he noted there has to be greater trust, meaning there has to be a greater sharing of capabilities. Conley offered that the Red Flag model — the Air Force’s premier aerial combat exercise — which presents a venue for nations to bring their platforms and fight as a coalition force, is a step in the right direction.
 
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