CAPITOL HILL: Can the Army unite its rival tribes to retake the high-tech high ground of modern warfare, the electromagnetic spectrum? Those are the stakes in the service’s ongoing internal struggles over doctrine, organization, and an obscure but critical program known as TLIS, the Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System.
Army leaders see TLIS as a powerful synergy between Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), which eavesdrops on and locates enemy transmissions, and Electronic Warfare (EW), which jams those same transmissions and can be used for cyber warfare. But TLIS, as the “intelligence” in its name implies, began as a pure SIGINT system, before it absorbed the former Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) program, and there’s always the possible it might regress. At least some electronic warriors hear worrying rumors that the more powerful SIGINT branch wants to save money on TLIS by cutting back on its jamming capabilities, leaving it as a passive sensor rather than an active weapon.
This internal budget battle in the Army could cede the actual battlefield to high-powered Russian and Chinese jammers, electronic warfare advocates fear, with the same lethal consequences for US troops that Ukrainian forces have suffered since 2014.
“The intel people will finally be able to get rid of EW, again, by taking it over, again, and crushing it,” said Col. Jeffrey Church, who until his retirement last year was the most senior Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) in the Army: There are no EW generals, in stark contrast to SIGINT and cyber. Church was also the last EWO to run the electronic warfare directorate on the Army’s Pentagon staff: His immediate successor was an engineer — an expert on bridges and minefields, not electrons. Both the staff directorate and the EWO specialty have since been folded into Army cyber.
“Next,” Church predicted in a bitter post on LinkedIn, “they will cancel the intel portions of MFEW they insisted be written into the EW requirements (i.e. when MFEW was folded into TLIS) and thereby kill the MFEW program.”
“I don’t think your article will affect anything for Army EW,” a weary Church told me. “The only thing that will is when a bunch of our soldiers get killed. Then the Army will act shocked by it and be compelled to bring EW into the force with real gear, real operators, real training and real EW leadership.” READ MORE...
With over 13,000 members internationally, the Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government, defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.