The Pentagon has set up a senior-level oversight panel to help the U.S. military keep its edge in electronic warfare (EW).
A one-page memorandum signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work created the EW Executive Committee, which will coordinate EW matters, including strategy, acquisition, operational support and security. The panel’s establishment came in response to a Defense Science Board study that found that the Department of Defense has “lost focus on electronic warfare at the programmatic and strategic level and should recreate the mechanisms needed to develop EW strategies, synchronize programs and advise the secretary and deputy secretary of defense on EW matters,” Work wrote in the March 17 memo.
“Our potential competitors seek to contest the EW space, an area where we retain a decided lead,” Work said in a McAleese/Credit Suisse defense conference speech, also on March 17. “But that lead is tenuous, and we believe that there has been insufficient focus on EW across the department.”
Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall and Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will co-chair the EW panel. Katrina McFarland, assistant defense secretary for acquisition, said at an April 10 AFCEA luncheon that the DoD hopes to promote innovative thinking for EW and will be soliciting input from industry.
Concerns about EW capabilities, including systems that jam enemy communications and radar, are not new. For instance, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2012 that some airborne electronic attack systems were plagued by development and production problems and duplication across the services, and that potential adversaries were increasingly developing their own EW weapons. Years earlier, U.S. Strategic Command identified almost three dozen EW-related capability gaps, including a lack of leadership across DoD, the GAO said.