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News   Reform

Defense Official Says Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Is Vital to Security

Dec. 1, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

For decades, the United States has had electromagnetic spectrum superiority over adversaries in all domains. But that superiority can no longer be taken for granted, said a Defense Department official.

A woman stands behind a lectern.
Fletcher Remarks
Kelly Fletcher, performing the duties of the chief information officer, speaks at the Association of Old Crows 58th Annual Symposium and Convention at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 211201-D-UB488-004A

China and Russia have invested heavily in ground-, air- and space-based technologies to use spectrum for themselves and deny it to others, Kelly Fletcher, performing the duties of DOD's chief information officer, told attendees of the Association of Old Crows 58th Annual Symposium and Convention in Washington. For instance, China has invested in sensors and jammers, and Russia is modernizing its spectrum-related equipment. 

"Our adversaries know how important this technology is to us," she said. "We know we have some vulnerabilities, and our adversaries know about them, and they're going to try to take advantage of them. What really makes me concerned most, frankly, is that there are probably vulnerabilities that we don't know about and that our adversaries are trying to find."

A woman stands behind a lectern.
Fletcher Remarks
Kelly Fletcher, performing the duties of the chief information officer, speaks at the Association of Old Crows 58th Annual Symposium and Convention at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 211201-D-UB488-003

Fletcher said that retaining electromagnetic superiority requires a whole-of-nation approach. That includes:

  • Partnering with industry and academia, as well as with allies and partners.
  • Partnering with other government agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
  • Engaging with international bodies, such as the International Telecommunications Union and the World Radiocommunication Conference. 
  • Working with the commercial sector to enable a 5G network, including spectrum sharing.
  • Breaking down barriers between spectrum managers, communicators and electronic warfare practitioners, then unifying these activities under a broad banner of electromagnetic spectrum operations.
  • Developing superior electromagnetic spectrum capabilities by investing in research and development for systems that sense, assess, share, maneuver, survive in complex spectrum environments, interoperate with other platforms and are easily upgraded.
  • Building robust electromagnetic battle management capabilities to monitor, assess, plan and direct spectrum operations, including disruptive technologies. 
  • Integrating spectrum into operations and plans and providing robust testing through rigorous exercises.
  • Recruiting, training and retaining a highly skilled military and civilian workforce.
  • Increasing total force readiness by ensuring all DOD personnel are at least somewhat familiar with the department's Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, which is unclassified and can be found online.