USAF’s Spectrum Warfare Wing Appears to Construct Up Personnel, Services, and Institutional Experience

A scarcity of personnel and amenities, in addition to a lack of expertise because the Air Drive divests a few of its digital warfare capabilities, are all difficult the service’s lone spectrum warfare wing’s buildup to full functionality, its commander mentioned April 18

Col. Joshua Koslov, commander of the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing at Eglin Air Drive Base, Fla., mentioned throughout an AFA Warfighters in Motion occasion he faces a disconnect between necessities and assets.

“Managing that danger is the place I spend most of my time,” Koslov famous. “I don’t have sufficient folks, I don’t have the fitting amenities,” however “we’re working with the Air Drive and [Air Combat Command] to get there.”

The 350th stood up in June 2021, however almost two years later, Koslov mentioned he has over greater than 200 army and civilian vacancies every—“and we’re going to proceed to develop.”

Maybe it’s simply as nicely these vacancies exist, nevertheless, as a result of “I solely have 50 extra seats to present within the amenities that I’ve right this moment,” Koslov added.

The 350th, along with prosecuting digital assault and digital warfare, is accountable for programming the menace catalogs for all F-35s worldwide and offering operational capabilities and recommendation to theater commanders and the Air Drive management, amongst many different tasks. Whereas it doesn’t “purchase widgets,” Koslov mentioned, it units necessities and requirements by which new {hardware} has to slot in with the EW enterprise.

The folks and amenities shortages are simply a part of the rising pains of creating a brand new group, Koslov mentioned, “however we’ve got a workforce that’s actually constructive concerning the effort.”

A significant milestone in that effort, the declaration of full operational functionality (FOC), continues to be slightly methods off, as Koslov indicated he’ll wait till the wing stands up a brand new 950th Spectrum Warfare Group, giving him extra capability to deploy models.

Within the meantime, one in all his fundamental worries is that “sustaining the wing goes to turn out to be laborious from a personnel perspective … as we divest platforms.”

In the intervening time, the 350th trains digital warfare officers primarily based on the platforms they function on, “and that’s not one of the simplest ways to do this,” Koslov mentioned. Because the Air Drive divests older plane used for EW just like the EC-130H Compass Name and RC-135 Rivet Joint, “your pool of digital warfare officers will get so much smaller.” The wing is seeking to preserve folks within the subject with significant work and assignments, but it surely’s early in that course of, he mentioned.

That problem is compounded by the truth that digital warfare officers are likely to “keep in [their] tribe for a very long time,” focusing completely on their explicit platform. Constructing crews “that may transcend the Air Drive and suppose Air Drive-wide after which Joint Drive-wide is a problem for us,” Koslov mentioned.

Likewise, engineers that work with or for the 350th have a tendency to come back in for a selected {hardware} or software program undertaking earlier than shifting on. Koslov mentioned he want to “retain that expertise,” as soon as they’re versed within the spectrum warfare commerce.

“I take into consideration that so much,” he added. “It’s worrisome to me” that experience is being institutionally misplaced.

The Spectrum Warfare Wing got here into being after the Air Drive realized that 20 years of specializing in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, with no peer competitor within the subject, had brought about the Air Drive’s digital warfare expertise to “atrophy,” within the phrases of Chief of Employees Gen. Charles Q. Brown.

Whereas he couldn’t get into particulars, Koslov mentioned the wing is making an attempt to take a extra holistic method to the EW struggle, transitioning away from usually kinetic responses to extra delicate ones that save on munitions and extract extra info.

Historically, USAF has “rolled again” an built-in air protection system by hanging at emitters, receivers and shooters; the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission, he defined.

“It’s nonetheless what we’re making an attempt to do,” Koslov mentioned. “It’s simply extra fashionable. The enemy’s going to be extra agile, they’re going to maneuver quicker, and so we want the techniques and the communications functionality and the air managers and joint warfighters who can perceive what the [Coalition Forces Air Commander’s] goals are that day and make choices with a purpose to assist … these goals.”

For example, Koslov pointed to a Chinese language Floor Motion Group (SAG).

In that SAG, “there’s in all probability 5 to seven boats, however there’s in all probability 45 EW targets that we have to cowl,” and “both exploit, take away, deceive, defeat, in a time and place of our selecting, primarily based on what the mission commander is asking us to do.”

The Air Drive has “allowed ourselves to be targeted solely on the kinetic facet of killing targets, however there are a whole lot of methods to neutralize a goal, and the spectrum gives” methods to do this.

Given tight budgets, utilizing fewer weapons or belongings to remove threats via digital assault or digital warfare could possibly be particularly vital.

Elsewhere, the wing can be closely concerned in workouts and can take part within the upcoming Northern Edge wargame, Koslov mentioned.

Nonetheless, regardless of recurring operator calls for for extra real looking live-fly threats on USAF’s wargame ranges, an growing variety of spectrum warfare wargame parts will happen within the dwell, digital, and constructive world. That’s due partly to the problem in acquiring menace tools, Koslov mentioned, but additionally as a result of real looking digital warfare performed within the open will be noticed by adversaries, and USAF would relatively preserve its methods hidden.

Taking part in wargames additionally helps heighten consciousness of EW on the Air Warfare Heart and 57th Wing, Koslov mentioned, and ensures it’s included in “China-based” marketing campaign plans.

Koslov additionally outlined 5 issues he wants to appreciate USAF’s Spectrum Warfare imaginative and prescient:

  • Crowd-sourced flight information, the place spectrum actions are fed right into a single database that may be shared throughout a number of platforms.
  • Digital Battle Administration, a part of the Air Drive’s broader Superior Battle Administration System. “It’s the way in which we transfer EW information throughout platforms within the struggle,” Koslov mentioned, to satisfy the air commanders’ goals.
  • Cognitive EW, or using synthetic intelligence and machine studying to research and reply to EW threats.
  • Accessible information to make sure the service can work with business to develop new jamming and response capabilities in a extra well timed style.
  • “Having the ability to assess all that”—to find out readiness “you have got to have the ability to assess one thing,” and “this can be a large, lengthy readiness dialogue with a partnership piece in the midst of it,” Koslov mentioned.