Electromagnetic spectrum operations instructors provide training in Germany

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tori Haberle
  • 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Instructors from the 479th Operations Support Squadron Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations School recently traveled to NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, to provide their “Introduction to Electromagnetic Warfare” course for the U.S. component of the NATO E-3 mission.

The highly sought-after five-day IEW course is taught eight times throughout the year at the Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations, or EMSO, School at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The course introduces fundamental electromagnetic warfare concepts to the Department of the Air Force and select sister-service personnel.

During the COVID-19 pandemic movement restrictions and reduced travel orders, the EMSO School's instructor cadre identified a better way of educating warfighters on the importance of the electromagnetic spectrum, or EMS.

Generally, the school hosts the IEW course at the 479th Operations Support Squadron based at NAS Pensacola, but rather than requiring select individuals to travel to Pensacola for the course, instructors recognized assembling small Mobile Training Teams, or MTT, and taking the course directly to the units would provide the units with a greater number of individuals with a primary EMS education.

Today, the IEW MTT program is an ideal option for organizations with numerous personnel seeking to increase their EW knowledge, as they reduce travel costs and allow units to train however many personnel the host organization can put through the course. This option was the primary driver for the U.S. component of NATO forces to sponsor the IEW MTT at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen.

"After taking the course myself in Pensacola, I learned how critical it is to grow our servicemembers' skills to support a knowledgeable force, capable of fighting in the electromagnetic warfare domain,” said Capt. Matthew Chellew from the NATO AWACS Operations Squadron, explaining why he played a pivotal role in organizing the first overseas IEW MTT for the EMSO School.

I knew bringing the MTT to the AWACS squadron at Geilenkirchen would be an efficient way to train most of us here,” Chellew said. “It paves the way for those operators to continue improving our current platform and readying the next platform and battle management tactics, techniques and procedures for the future."

Regardless of the course location, the training objectives remain the same, providing students with a fundamental understanding of the EMS and how all military operations rely on the effective use of and within the EMS.

During the course, students receive instruction on various air, space, and ground EW platforms and become familiar with the three pillars of EW: electromagnetic attack, support, and protection. IEW is tailored around the air component perspective and is ideal for aircrew, intelligence, acquisitions, operational test professionals, and any personnel operating in and across the EMS.

Maj. William Johnson, an E-3 AWACS aircraft commander, attended the course and had nothing but praise for the instructors and course content:

"Before taking IEW, I had a basic understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum and its associated operations,” Johnson said. “The course opened my eyes to how users of the spectrum operate to gain and maintain an advantage in a fight. Additionally, it really whets my appetite for follow-on courses that enhance the knowledge base established in IEW."

Johnson further noted how IEW applies to his daily mission execution:

"The IEW course solidified concepts I can take back to the E-3 to better plan and execute operations. Active detection, passive detection, and communications are the bread and butter of our mission set as airborne C2,” he said. “The course focused on those concepts, how they work and how other players integrate into the EM spectrum."

Providing the tools operators need to fight in the EMS is the fundamental goal of this training. The director of the EMSO School, Lt. Col. Jake "Snake" Whitlock, and his cadre of Instructor Combat Systems Officers, or ICSO, are passionate about providing EMSO education to Air Force and joint personnel.

"Future conflicts will be fought throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, as it permeates all air, land, sea, space, and cyber domains," Whitlock said. "Whoever controls the EMS and capitalizes on accelerating their spectral agility is poised for freedom of maneuver across all domains while simultaneously defeating the adversary's kill web. Therefore, it is so important our nation's warfighters, allies, and partners have a foundational understanding of the EMS, know how it impacts their environment, and are educated on joint-service EMS applications vulnerabilities and exploitable aspects to achieve spectrum superiority in our current and future operations."

"Modern warfighting tactics are largely integrated with the electromagnetic domain. We must educate our support personnel and operators on the basics of electromagnetic warfare to stay ahead of our adversaries,” said Lt. Col. Michael Miloszewski, NATO AWACS Operations Squadron Commander. “The IEW MTT provided top-notch training to our US-assigned NATO forces. The 19th Air Force and AETC provide a fantastic service, making our warfighters more lethal and giving US and allied partners the edge in future conflicts. We are already looking forward to hosting another IEW MTT next year, and I highly recommend other commands take advantage of this training."

IEW is open to all US military officers, enlisted and DOD civilians. Students must have a secret clearance before entering class.