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Electronic warfare gives Soldiers new career field

With advanced technologies being used on the battlefield, the likelihood of enemies using this to their advantage increases. For example, the Army is providing Soldiers in the field with cellphones and cellphones are highly susceptible to EW, said Lou West, the electronic warfare analyst and instructor at Fort Benning.

West said that is one reason why it is important for Soldiers to understand EW as the military relies more on using the electromagnetic spectrum.

And now Fort Benning is incorporating a new area of competency into its training regimen — electronic warfare — as part of the Maneuver Center of Excellence Fires Cell.

Announced in March by the Department of the Army, Electronic Warfare MOS FA29 (officer), MOS 290A (warrant officer) and MOS 29E (enlisted), are expected to be fully added to its list of specialties by 2012.

Although the courses will be taught at Fort Sill, Okla., West said the Combined Arms Center’s EW Proponent Office’s goal is to integrate the teaching of electronic warfare into military education at all levels and for all Soldiers — including Soldiers at Fort Benning. “What we do with electronic warfare is control the electromagnetic spectrum before the enemies do or to take the control from them and to make sure we maintain control of it,” West said.

West provides EW training to Soldiers and units on Fort Benning and the training is currently integrated into the Armor and Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course, Maneuver Captains Career Course and Maneuver Pre-Command Course.

West served as an electronic warfare officer with the Tennessee National Guard’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After the unit demobilized, he was hired as a contractor by FSCX Inc., and attended FA29 at Fort Sill before coming to Fort Benning in March.

“My role is to ensure that Soldiers and the maneuver side of the house know how to properly utilize EW in planning and operations,” he said.

The electromagnetic spectrum involves different types of radiation emitted from electronic devices such as radios and cellphones. In combat, electronic warfare is used to deny the enemy an advantage in the electromagnetic spectrum, West said. It is used “to support military operations involving various levels of detection, denial, deception, disruption, degradation, protection and destruction.”

There are three subdivisions of electronic warfare: electronic support, electronic protect and electronic attack, he said.

Electronic support involves searching, locating and intercepting radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of finding immediate threat recognition, targeting, planning and conducting future operations, West said.

Electronic protect prevents personnel, facilities or equipment from any negative effects of the electromagnetic spectrum that can “degrade, neutralize or destroy friendly combat capability.”

Electronic attack uses the electromagnetic spectrum to attack the enemy. Jamming is part of EA and occurs when a stronger signal overrides another signal — for example, preventing a cellphone signal from detonating a radio-controlled IED.