350th SWW welcomes ASD Plumb

  • Published
  • By Capt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs
Dr. John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, recently visited the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing to learn more about its mission to deliver adaptive and cutting-edge Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) capabilities that provide the warfighter a tactical and strategic competitive advantage and freedom to attack, maneuver, and defend.

As the ASD for Space Policy, Plumb’s portfolio encompasses the DOD’s strategic capabilities for integrated deterrence including space and missile defense, nuclear weapons, countering weapons of mass destruction, and, at the time of publication, cyber and electromagnetic warfare (EW).

“At this point in history, these capabilities [space, cyber, and EW] are on the rise and in demand to prevent and deter conflict,” said Plumb. “I think EMSO [Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations] is absolutely critical to integrated deterrence and the adversary needs to know that we are dedicated to outperforming them by maintaining our freedom of maneuver across the spectrum while denying it to the adversary.”

During his visit, Plumb had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the wing mission sets from mission data file (MDF) production to participating in large force exercises, such as Bamboo Eagle and Red Flag, to training warfighters on how to use the spectrum to achieve superiority over adversarial forces.

“All of our systems rely on the Spectrum,” said Plumb. “We have to be able to operate within the Electromagnetic Spectrum to be able to achieve our missions to fight and win. Frankly, that’s critical to deterrence in the first place. If we can’t successfully operate in the spectrum and use EW to our advantage and the adversaries’ disadvantage, then we aren’t doing our job to deter.”

To deter adversaries, the DOD relies heavily on maintaining access to certain spectrum bands that enable critical weapon systems and radars. One specific band on which the Department relies is the 3.1 – 3.45 gigahertz band.

The National Spectrum Strategy, released last year by the White House, identified the 3.1 – 3.45 GHz band as one band of the Spectrum for in-depth study to explore dynamic spectrum sharing and other opportunities for private-sector access in the band.

“3.1-3.45 is absolutely essential to the Department of Defense,” said Plumb. “As part of the National Spectrum Strategy, we are exploring what we call dynamic Spectrum sharing, to be able to look at some portion of the bands to allow commercial operators to use this in a way that does not cause negative repercussions on the U.S.’ ability to defend itself and project force forward. It’s a hard problem and not easily solved, but we are committed to seeing if there is a way to solve it.”

Plumb received briefings on wing growth efforts such the 950th Spectrum Warfare Group, which is planned to formally activate at Robins AFB, Georgia. The group plans to assess EW capabilities on every platform in the Combat Air Force inventory, ensuring readiness through assessment.

Throughout the visit, leaders stressed challenges the wing is working to overcome to provide EW-based capabilities to support the pacing challenge campaign plan. From dealing with data classification to organizational partnerships needed to increase the speed at which MDFs can be produced and released, Plumb agreed that his current priorities for Space hold true for EW. “I’ve continued to hammer away on my three Cs priorities: space control, space cooperation and space classification. These three Cs are the same for EW.”

Plumb explained at EW “control” centers on dominating parts of the EMS and effectively operating within it while neutralizing the adversaries’ ability to access the spectrum.

Talking about cooperation, Plumb stressed the role of the U.S. partnerships across the globe.

“Cooperation, I say this all the time...the U.S. has this network of partners and allies that China and Russia can never hope to match,” said Plumb. “Willing allies and partners are something they don’t have.”

Plumb continued that operating jointly with allies and partners requires the sharing of data to better communicate and fight, but challenges with classification can hinder cooperation. He noted that meetings with the 350th highlighted that even the U.S. Air Force faces challenges and slowdowns stemming from classification and security requirements for certain data from platforms.

“...How can we break down barriers to information sharing—not to make everything unclassified, I have zero interest in that—but how do you bring things down to a classification level that you can share with the other services and people within your own service, with industry, and with allies and partners?” said Plumb.

The need for agility in the spectrum has never been higher and the wing is focused on overcoming these challenges to provide Spectrum Superiority to the joint force and partners and allies overseas to take out kill-chains and achieve combatant commander objectives.

“I’m really impressed with the 350th and glad I visited,” said Plumb. “Electronic warfare is absolutely essential to the future fight. What I saw today was a lot of people doing a lot of forward thinking to make sure that the USAF is ready for that future fight. Not just the deep future. The near future.”