110 years ago the British Army raised the Royal Engineers Signal Service. Two years later, this would form the Royal Corps of Signals. The Corps remains part of the British Army providing communications support to the force, operating and maintaining its telecommunications and information systems and performing Electronic Warfare (EW). With the Corp’s centenary looming in two years, it is a good moment to examine the role of EW in British Army doctrine.
Official army and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) documents provide an insight on how the force about EW, and how it would use such capabilities in anger. One MOD source told the author that “(EW) is integrated into the spectrum of army, and wider (MOD capabilities) as part of the range of effects available to support both land and joint operations,” adding that: “Specific doctrine supporting the use of EW is classified.”
This February to little fanfare the MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre published Joint Doctrine Note 1/18: Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities. In its own words, the publication attempted “to capture the widest concept of Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) and draws together elements of existing doctrine and best practice.” Arguably reflecting on seven years of conflict in Syria, and Russia’s intervention in the Ukrainian civil war from 2014, the document makes a stark observation: “To succeed against complex and diverse threats that exploit the pervasive information environment we need to do things differently.” Hostilities in Ukraine and Syria have underscored that battlefield signals intelligence has arguably moved beyond existing doctrines which stressed capturing Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and to a lesser extent Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) regarding hostile military communications and ground-based radars, towards an environment where telecommunications traffic zooming around the battlefield across smartphones and tablets using civilian GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) protocols is as much a threat to friendly operations. Russia’s use of EW during its Ukraine intervention is highly instructive. Roger McDermott, senior fellow in Eurasian Military Studies at the Jamestown Foundation think tank in Washington DC, stated in his seminal September 2017 publication, that the Russian Army’s Orlan-10 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) had been used during the Syria intervention to send misleading text messages to cellphones as part of the force’s psychological operations (psyops). 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.