The Pentagon on Oct. 29 released an electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) superiority strategy meant to link with the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which stressed a new era of great power competition.

Technologies that DoD wants to use include those that feature dynamic spectrum sharing, frequency agility; frequency diversity; wide tuning ranges; minimizing EMS footprint; reducing vulnerability to detection; and resiliency against radio frequency (RF)-enabled cyber attacks, a DoD official told reporters in a teleconference on Oct. 29.

“The rise of mobile systems and digital technology across the globe has placed enormous strain on the available spectrum for DoD’s command, control, and communication needs,” Dana Deasy, DoD’s chief information officer, said in an Oct. 29 statement. “This strategy will help set the conditions needed to ensure our warfighters have freedom of action within the electromagnetic spectrum to successfully conduct operations and training in congested, contested and constrained multi-domain environments across the globe.”

The strategy calls for the development and fielding of revolutionary, disruptive EMS technologies “to detect, identify, locate and replicate complex emitters/signals of interest rapidly to build situational awareness and enable targeting for both kinetic and non-kinetic fires.”

“These vital corollary systems will unravel the chaos of a congested and contested EMOE (electromagnetic operational environment) and provide near-real-time situational awareness for EMBM (electromagnetic battle management) as well as real-time targeting information to attack adversary forces as they use the EMS,” per the strategy.

One of the DoD officials who briefed reporters on Oct. 29 said that there are thousands of legacy systems that use narrow frequency ranges and that as part of the strategy’s implementation over the next 18 months, DoD plans to identify near term upgrades for such systems.

“To support EMS maneuver, the department, with emphasis on the services, will need to evolve and harmonize their requirements for new acquisitions, perhaps incorporating major modifications to existing systems,” per the strategy.

The DoD official said that the electromagnetic operating environment is “contested by adversaries, congested with all of the RF-enabled proliferation of devices these days, and constrained during peacetime by the laws and regulations of all the countries we operate [in].”

“Modern warfare is fundamentally dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum,” the official said. “Most of the things that we do require freedom of action within the electromagnetic spectrum to operate. The last 20 years of our experience prior to the re-emergence of long-term strategic competition has maybe not well prepared us as maybe we should have or could have [been].”