As the Army begins moving its electronic warfare (EW) components over to its cyber branch, officials are shifting focus to rapid prototyping of integrated tools meant to enhance the capabilities of its maneuver commanders and cross-functional teams.

Army officials see FY ‘18 as an important year for developing tools that remove stovepiped requirements for EW and cyber capabilities to improve the ability of its maneuver forces to carry out tactical information operations, according to panelists at a Wednesday Association of the United States Army (AUSA) event.

Commanding General of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence Maj. Gen. John Morrison. Photo: Army.
Commanding General of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence Maj. Gen. John Morrison. Photo: Army.

“We have approval for an integrated attachment that fuses cyber, electronic warfare, intelligence, signal and space into one integrated capability that is new growth, and which we’ll begin piloting late FY 18,” said Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commanding general of the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, during a panel on EW.

While EW components won’t be fully integrated into the Army’s cyber branch until October 2018, officials have already received approval and funding for requirements for capabilities including the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT).

The EWPMT software suite provides capabilities to improve maneuver commander’s ability to coordinate EW campaigns, electromagnetic spectrum management and cyber operations.

On Tuesday, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council also approved the Army’s fully funded program to deploy a next generation terrestrial system, according to Morrison. The new system fuses integrated requirements to bring together SIGINT and EW capabilities for cross-functional teams.

Maj. Gen. Patricia Frost, director of cyber for the office of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, believes 2018 will be a major year for delivery of EW-cyber integrated capabilities after moving to a rapid prototyping approach.

“We’re not going to wait the six, 10 years of building the perfect set or kit. We’re going to look at prototyping, and risk reduction, risk mitigation,” Frost said.

Industry can support rapid prototyping by developing capabilities that adhere to new integrated requirements rather than aiming to own a single EW or cyber component, according to panelists at the AUSA event.

“Industry can’t afford to build the Abrams or Apache-equivalent of weapons systems for [information operations]. For the cyber or EW community in industry, we’ve got to be able multi-function capabilities for the maneuver fight,” George Lewis, CACI International [CACI] vice president of cyber and electromagnetic activities, said.

Army officials are also considering models that aim to provide all components with robust integrated capabilities without necessarily having to build in a specific EW platoon to every brigade.

Col. Paul “Tim” Brooks, Department of the Army’s cyber mission assurance chief, pointed to the Army’s J-39 information operations cell as a way of ensuring a seamless integration of EW into cyber capabilities.

“We’ve got to think about how we build a cell that is broad enough to provide the commander an understanding of risks and opportunities, and then that cell can identify the capabilities that the particular mission needs,” Brooks said. “We have a model of that, the J-39 cell, and I think at the division all the way down to brigade level we’ve got to build this multi-function cell that is probably less expensive than it sounds.”

Morrison views the integration EW and cyber capabilities, formations and requirements as a top-down mission for all components to embrace on the operational level.

“All the way up to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and the FORSCOM Commander, we have walked through the operational concept of how do we restore this capability down into the [basic combat training] level. Exactly what that looks like…that’s one of the things that we’re working our way through,” Morrison said.