WASHINGTON: “Electronic warfare is a weapon,” fumed Col. Joe Dupont. But as the Army’s project manager for EW programs — and its recently declassified offensive cyber division — Dupont faces an uphill battle against tight budgets and Army culture to make that case.
Whoever rules the airwaves will be able to keep their networks and sensors working while shutting down the enemy’s — or subverting them. As the world goes wireless, both phones and computers depend increasingly on radio links rather than physical cables: an iPhoneis, at its core, a radio. That means jamming and hacking, traditional electronic warfare and the brave new world of cyber, are beginning to blur together.
I ran into Dupont at last week’s Association of Old Crows conference, where the tribe of experts in jamming, spoofing, radio, and radar gather — among other reasons — to be barraged by abstruse PowerPoint slides. “One of the bullets I saw up there [said] ‘EW enables weapons systems,’” Dupont said. “Completely false statement. EW is a weapon system.”
“There’s nothing sexy about the enablers. We’ve got to stop talking about it as an enabler. It’s a weapon system,” Dupont said. “It is fires!”
Equating radar and radio jamming to artillery fire, missiles, and airstrikes (collectively, “fires”) has top-level endorsement in the Navy, where Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenertwants the fleet to practice “electromagnetic maneuver warfare.”In the Army, however, the concept is just starting to take root.