In the U.S. DoD, everything electromagnetic these days is electromagnetic SPECTRUM, rather than EM control. Or rather, EM control, while still required, has taken a backseat to spectrum control (maybe all the way to the trunk!). All kinds of changes are upon us: from the desire to simply use new frequency management tools (EL-CID vs. the DD Form 1494); to the desire to field systems that determine their own spectrum use (dynamic spectrum access); to a hard-to-imagine (but necessary) convergence of spectrum, EW and cyber systems. I can remember the days when electromagnetic interference control and electromagnetic compatibility were much bigger issues than spectrum supportability. I guess that was before the explosion of cell phones, wireless internet, 3G, 4G, LTE, etc. Right now, within easy reach, I have a cell phone with Wi-Fi capability, an iPad with cellular and Wi-Fi capability, two laptops with Wi-Fi, several Bluetooth devices, a wireless mouse and keyboard, a cordless house phone and several other things I’m sure I’ll think of later. Does a laser pointer count?
I recently watched a very interesting group interview on Defense News TV during which EW leaders from each of the four services discussed the convergence and integration of EW and cyber warfare using spectrum as the primary battleground, rather than the usual land, sea and air discussions. Frankly, it was quite interesting to listen to these service leaders all discussing different priorities for operating in the EM spectrum (both offensively and defensively) rather than the usual “we fly”, “we sail” or “we hit the beach.” In the end, they have many more similar requirements than differing ones.
So where IS the train heading? Well, just from a minimal involvement in activities around the DoD spectrum community, considering the Presidents Spectrum Plan (identification of 500 MHz of spectrum for future commercial use, sharing proposals, CSMAC working groups, etc.); updates to spectrum regulations (like the requirement to do spectrum supportability risk assessments); reorganizations at the very highest levels (DoD CIO); an overall spectrum transformation (read: GEMSIS) to widespread use of DSA and related technologies; not to mention the emerging relationship between spectrum and EW (we have a tendency to jam ourselves, particularly in anti-IED operations)—deep breath—it’s hard to tell where we’re heading. But suffice it to say that it’s a very large train, with a lot of very important and very smart people running it and, at the end of the day, while it may be a very long trip, I believe there’s a light at the end. And if there isn’t, I feel sorry for the train headed this way. I don’t think it stands a chance!