Releasing the Krakens: 39 EWS, Unit of the Year

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Benjamin Aronson
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing
The 39th Electronic Warfare Squadron, dubbed the “Krakens”, executed a variety of Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) missions to support warfighters at a level that won them the first 350 SWW Unit of the Year Award.

Analogous to the many arms of the mythological Kraken, the 39th EWS executes a variety of missions with the goal of delivering combat relevant electromagnetic warfare capabilities through intelligence and software to sense, maneuver, and attack in the electromagnetic spectrum.

The 39th EWS, which was activated in 2020, consists of four flights, fourteen career fields and a diverse team consisting of Airmen, contractors, and civilians and functions is affectionately referred to as, “the operational support squadron (OSS) of Electronic Warfare Integrated Reprogramming (EWIR).”

“We have a really diverse mission and team here in the 39th EWS,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ronnie Smith, 39 EWS commander. “We punch above our weight class and are generating combat power with 58% first-term Airmen, civilians and contractors.”

“The culture in our squadron is to challenge people with hard problems and recognize those that deliver success and learning along the way,” said Senior Master Sgt. Russell Hopwood, 39th EWS senior enlisted leader. “If someone is doing something outstanding, we capture it, put it on paper and send it forward to have them recognized.”

The Krakens also took home Field Grade Officer and Crow of the Year for the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing.

This past year, the Krakens worked closely with the Intelligence Community (IC) to close on long-standing gaps between the Combat Air Forces (CAF) needs and formal production from the IC. These gains enabled the Krakens to hold the pacing threat at risk, providing both tactical and strategic advantage”

This year also saw the successful test of the System-of-Systems Technology Integration Tool Chain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems (STITCHES), which is a software-based solution to connect disparate frameworks through unique machine-to-machine interfaces and connections. STITCHES delivers EW capabilities by integrating various systems together through a rapid software development process allowing warfighters to maintain an edge over adversaries.

“STITCHES is a software that takes two architectures that were never designed to talk with each other and “stitches” them together, allowing them to communicate,” said Hopwood.

The Krakens, through their software development teams, also operate the TACApp Store which is home to MissionWare supporting various systems. These EW software capabilities are designed to serve as an “EW-as-a-service” program which will enable capabilities to be rapidly shared across platforms.

Finally, the unit also made gains in terms of using cloud software and became a trailblazer in gaining an Authority to Operate (ATO) for its development pipeline on Cloud One, allowing them the ability to create software, push it through the development pipeline, and publish through classified networks.

Moving into the next year, the 39th EWS is looking to solidify gains they’ve made, significantly grow their workforce, and keep working to make the wing’s vision happen.

“I’m humbled and extremely proud of the team because we burned a lot of cycles and tackled hard problems despite significant training, manning and facilities limitations” said Smith. “The fact that we win it the first year it is being offered, is outstanding. Regaining EMS superiority is happening here in this squadron and this unit is a tangible example of it.”