US Forces Are Untrained, Unready for Russian, Chinese Jamming Because Their Training Is Worthless Garbage

When EW specialists shut down US exercises with ease they're simply told to knock it off

US troops have forgotten basic lessons of electronic warfare, and they’re not being forced to relearn them because even major training exercises are unrealistically easy, military and civilian experts warned this morning. Even when electronic warfare specialists are allowed to disrupt a unit’s radios and radar, often to paralyzing effect, they’re typically told to knock it off so training can continue as normal.

“We’ve got to stop wishing it away,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Poole, a Marine working at US Strategic Command. “We’ve got to stop willfully ignoring the fact that the bad guys have jammers too.”

If you look at the trends over time from one wargame to the next, “we are actually improving at a slower rate than we’re finding new problems,” said Lt. Col. Gary Lyke, an Army officer also at STRATCOM, which has the responsibility — but little of the authority – to improve EW. During exercises, troops keep their cellphones on, giving away their precise location. Units consistently forget such basics as having backup plans in case their primary communications get jammed – a principle called PACE, for Primary / Alternative / Contingency / Emergency – and even when someone does switch to the backup channels, the people they need to talk to often forget to listen to them. “It’s a simple thing,” Lyke said. “We absolutely suck at it.”

A real adversary like Russia or China would exploit such failings mercilessly. One reason troops are allowed not to suffer is that electronic warfare is often strictly limited in power to avoid violating FCC regulations so it doesn’t interfere with nearby civilian transmissions, Lyke said. For example a 1,000-watt jammer might be dialed down to 50. Another is that EW is often limited in time to only a brief part of a multi-day exercise, he said, “Sometimes two hours; sometimes as small as 10 minutes.”

Overall, he said, the scenarios used in training come nowhere near the real threat troops would face from a sophisticated adversary.

“I’m being polite when I say that it ‘does not represent the most likely and most dangerous course of action’ [by an adversary],” Lyke said, looking skeptically at his own briefing slides. Frankly, he told the audience here at the AOC electronic warfare conference, “I’d call it garbage.”

So, “if you would ask whether or not we are ready in the EMS [Electromagnetic Spectrum],” Lyke said, “you would get a personal opinion of ‘no’.”

During Q&A, multiple audience members stepped up to the mike to voice their agreement. “You all are correct,” said an Air Force civilian. There’s a lot of talk about fighting in that contested EMOE [Electromagnetic Operational Environment] but what we’ve seen [is] very little appetite to actually do some of that stuff.” The officers running exercises seem unwilling to let realistic jamming interfere with, say, pilots getting their flight hours in the cockpit.

Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft have been asked to conduct jamming during both Air Force and Army exercises, an Air Force officer added, only to be asked to stop because they were too effective. “We crushed the entire air war [and were told] ‘okay, knock it off,’” he said.

The most important statement of support from the audience, however, came at the very end of the session, from a Navy officer serving on a task force chartered by Congress to investigate electronic warfare and related shortfalls. (The formal name is Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) Cross-Functional Team (CFT), created by the Section 1053 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act).

“I think was a great panel,” the officer said. While there were other events on the conference schedule at the same time, he emphasized, “the thought leadership of the EMSO CFT is here in this room, and we are the vehicle for change for the Department of Defense.”

Solving the Problem

So how do you make sure you have realistic, challenging training in electronic warfare? It isn’t simple. The exercise controllers who limit or prohibit jamming aren’t simply being perverse.

To start with, there are strict FCC and even FAA rules on who can transmit on what frequencies in various areas of the United States, for good reasons, and high-powered jamming can go a long way beyond the intended target. Accidentally garbling a civilian’s GPS navigation could be annoying; shutting down a business’s WiFi could be economically damaging; interfering with an airliner’s navigation system could be lethal.

Even in places and on frequencies where it’s safe to try out jamming techniques, it might not be possible to get an actual jammer. While the Navy and Marines have significant electronic warfare forces, the Army is still struggling to rebuild the offensive EW units it disbanded in the 1990s, and the Air Force retained only a handful of Compass Call aircraft. EW systems that replicate the behavior of enemy jammers are even harder to come by. US Strategic Command recently spent $32 million to put more jammers on training ranges, Poole said, but that’s just beginning to fill the gap.

And there is a potential technological solution to these problems: using simulated jamming in real-life exercises. Instead of turning on an actual jammer and seeing what happens, you construct a sophisticated model of how enemy jamming would affect friendly systems – which isn’t easy to do – and that software, or the umpires using it, turn off systems that are deemed to be “jammed.” The military is experimenting with such combinations of real and simulated training, a concept called Live/Virtual/Constructive (LVC), and experts on the panel and in the audience agreed it was a promising way to go.

But getting more jammers, whether simulated or real ones, is not enough. “We do not have a technology problem,” Lyke said: The big limiting factor is how people think – or fail to think – about electronic warfare. All too often, he said, jamming and other threats are “sprinkled” on top of an exercise for flavor, without being allowed to stop the units involved from doing what they’re trying to do.

Training exercises involve long checklists of required tasks, and coping with jamming is only one among many — if it’s listed at all. An artillery unit has to practice shooting cannon. Tanks and infantry have to practice maneuvering cross-country. Helicopters and planes have to practice flying, and if real or simulated jamming paralyzes troops so thoroughly they can’t practice those tasks, they’re not getting the workout they need.

But surely, Lyke said, the troops would benefit even more from having to practice performing all their tasks despite being jammed, because that’s what Russia or China would make them do in real life. In all too many exercises, EW units are told “you cannot do this because it’s going to impact some of the training events,” he said. “I’m sorry. The training event is to do these tasks in that [electronic warfare] environment.”

Training to fight while your communications and sensors are being jammed, Poole said, is like training to fight while you’re wearing gas masks and chem-bio protective suits. It may be awkward and difficult, but it’s necessary to “survive and operate,” he said. “You’re going to face those conditions and [can’t] wish it away….Russia’s not going to turn off the jamming.”

Source: Breaking Defense

  1. Undecider says

    The good news here is it helps to expose the U.S. military as a bunch of fluff and that they are not prepared to fight in a major conflict against a serious enemy. This means all the sword rattling against Iran and Russia is just that. A bunch of noise.

    As well, all the hype with Iran is just another excuse to raise the price of oil and gas.

  2. RedBaron9495 says

    US Military are delusional. referring to their opposition (or enemies) as “Bad Guys”, when the reality is quite different.
    Given their long history of military aggression outside it’s own borders….it is they that should be described as “Bad Guys”

  3. ArcAngel says

    How nice, some comedy with my morning coffee.

    Seems nothing has change in the criminal, US Death Cult warmongering (ahem, cough, cough) “training” since Marine General Ripper made the Pentagon and so-called “Think Tanks” look like a bunch fools and egomaniacal idiots, with “Millennium Challenge 2002”

    “Even when electronic warfare specialists are allowed to disrupt a unit’s radios and radar, often to paralyzing effect, they’re typically told to knock it off so training can continue as normal.” yep… that is why they call it “Gaming”… so the field can be RIGGED…FLMAO.

    Is it ANY wonder the USUKEU Reich cannot fight. No, not at all.
    Their low IQ, mentally retarded, criminal, limp-wristed, PC, LGBTQRSTXYZ softie recruits/troops are too busy texting/taking selfies, bitching and whining, or driving Frigates into Cargo ships… Training, what for… didn’t ya know… these young adults know everything, just ask them.
    As we all know the US doesn’t fight wars, it invades small nations and slaughters/terrorizes it innocent civilians and steals their natural resources.
    Jamming…no need.
    The New World Soldier will just “facebook” their adversary to boredom

    1. The Arioch says

      > they’re typically told to knock it off

      Nothing changed from Manhattan Project times, if you read Richard Feynmann memories 😀

  4. tom greg says

    I wouldn’t worry. The Russians will likely only use their jammers ten minutes every day.

    1. muIvica Repic says

      Dont be so shure about that!

      1. Evil_shadow says

        i think that was sarcasm 😉

  5. All_has_An _END_. says

    The Power of EW:

    The State Department acknowledged that the crew of the destroyer USS Donald Cook has been gravely demoralized ever since their vessel was flown over in the Black Sea by a Russian Sukhoi-24 (Su-24) fighter jet which carried neither bombs nor missiles but only an electronic warfare device.
    The USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) is a 4th generation guided missile destroyer whose key weapons are Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers, and capable of carrying nuclear explosives. This ship carries 56 Tomahawk missiles in standard mode, and 96 missiles in attack mode.

    The US destroyer is equipped with the most recent Aegis Combat System. It is an integrated naval weapons systems which can link together the missile defense systems of all vessels embedded within the same network, so as to ensure the detection, tracking and destruction of hundreds of targets at the same time. In addition, the USS Donald Cook is equipped with 4 large radars, whose power is comparable to that of several stations. For protection, it carries more than fifty anti-aircraft missiles of various types.

    Meanwhile, the Russian Su-24 that buzzed the USS Donald Cook carried neither bombs nor missiles but only a basket mounted under the fuselage, which, according to the Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta [2], contained a Russian electronic warfare device called Khibiny.

    As the Russian jet approached the US vessel, the electronic device disabled all radars, control circuits, systems, information transmission, etc. on board the US destroyer. In other words, the all-powerful Aegis system, now hooked up – or about to be – with the defense systems installed on NATO’s most modern ships was shut down, as turning off the TV set with the remote control.

    The Russian Su-24 then simulated a missile attack against the USS Donald Cook, which was left literally deaf and blind. As if carrying out a training exercise, the Russian aircraft – unarmed – repeated the same maneuver 12 times before flying away.

    That was April 12th 2014

    1. Evil_shadow says

      I wonder what would happen if Russia (or china or any other country that cant go head on conventional maritime warfare with US) would use underwater drones with same tech? sort of smart limpet mines that would be carried by ocean currents and attach to only pre-programmed targets…

    2. ArcAngel says

      There was actually 2 incidents involving the USS Donald (Duck) Cook and the Russians in the Black Sea.
      The first report (highly embarrassing) being scrubbed from the Net. Almost.
      The first incident happened with the “Duck” going dark after several fly-bys…it is debatable whether the USS Cook ran off to Romania and its crew (partial) refusing to board ship.
      Now it is claimed it never happened, and only the second incident occurred.
      Point being… The mighty Aegis EWS is totally susceptible to a “pod” hung from a jet aircraft.
      This is another arena where the Disney Pentagon is useless.

      1. The Arioch says

        There was one more rumor, that actually the ship was targeted by shore defense missiles, “Bastion” and other ASM-s, in full battle mode, all that time. So while the Su-24 was pretend-attacking them sailors knew one wrong move on their part – and the missiles would be launched. One wrong move at pilot’s part – and he crashes into ship or sea, and the shore defense assumes attack, and then deadly missiles are launched, too.

        So, to use medieval terms, it was a pretense-execution of prisoners, played out again and again, and with a significant chance to suddenly turn real.

        They were all high on US-allmighty kool aid, and then suddenly they found themselves a mice played by a cat, with no warranties that the cat would get bored and let them flee – or will sink them in the end

  6. Mikhail Garchenko says

    …and these IDIOTS pretend to WIN A WAR with “The Bear”..???

    “Even when electronic warfare specialists are allowed to disrupt a unit’s radios and radar, often to paralyzing effect, they’re typically told to knock it off so training can continue as normal.” That´s why I wrote “IDIOTS”. The PINNACLE of stupidity, LOL..!

  7. The Natural says

    ““We’ve got to stop wishing it away,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Poole, a Marine working at US Strategic Command. “We’ve got to stop willfully ignoring the fact that the bad guys have jammers too.””

    He should rather stop willfully ignoring the fact that they themselves are the bad guys!

    1. Linda Wren says

      Lol. Spot on

  8. DarkEyes says

    IMO, dear Lt. Col. Matthew Poole of the Marines, there should be no need to excercise all these war-crap. Why?
    Just stop making regime changes, wars and other ways of destructing the planet with third parties. Stick to your own country where there is plenty to do (infrastructure) and you might save trillions of USdollars for your own fellow Americans. That is why!

    It is all so simple. No wars. US is now making wars for about 160 years against the countries on this planet and lost all of them.

  9. LS says

    The more you learn about military technology the more fanciful the idea of the US taking on either China or Russia becomes.
    And I suspect that it was EW technology set up by Russian advisors that kept the US from using force against Venezuela. It is a good thing that relatively cheap and easily deployed technology can force the US regime to behave itself. Unfortunately, it is US civilians that will probably need it most someday.

  10. James Willy says

    [can’t] wish it away….Russia’s not going to turn off the jamming.”

    Oh I would not be too sure about that statement. Usually the septics start getting slaughtered (example Ukraine) and beg for a ceasefire. Then *usually* the Russians grant it to allow the terrorists to regroup and rearm. (we saw the same thing in Syria many times too) So how can the clown writing this story claim that statement with confidence? Russians always quit before the job is finished. They never bother killing ALL the terrorists from nato or where ever they come from. Let’s get real here.

    1. Evil_shadow says

      you talking about US or Russia?

      1. James Willy says


  11. CHUCKMAN says

    Poor deprived imperial troops. My heart just breaks for them.

    1. ravenise says

      they are worthless garbage, suicide is the best option for them

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