I recently read Sydney J. Freedberg’s great piece in Breaking Defense discussing Alan Shaffer’s comments about loss of “dominance in electromagnetic spectrum.” There has also been much discussion about it in the Association of Old Crows (AOC) community, which will host its 2014 symposium and conference in D.C. early next month.
Chief among Mr. Shaffer’s concerns is a perceived loss of technical superiority. His concerns are well founded. Communication is omnipresent. Our reliance on communication technology – both within the defense and civilian spheres – continues to increase. Enemies, and even allies, are potentially outpacing us with more sophisticated, far less expensive solutions. The introduction of these disruptive technologies is a constant threat.
Mr. Shaffer advocates for the development of new and cost-effective technologies to combat enemy threats. Given the necessity of these solutions for protection and competitive advantage, it is difficult not to agree with his assessment.
Providers of electromagnetic spectrum solutions work in a complex and ever-changing environment. Urban warfare has changed the EW (electronic warfare) landscape. Tighter system integration has added complexity. The increased role of electromagnetic spectrum solutions for cyber security protection and intelligence gathering has added a new dimension, as has the increased push for affordability. Furthermore, all of these technologies must work reliably and harmoniously within a crowded spectrum, with efficient use of power, in a compact space, in some of the world’s harshest environments. This is certainly a challenge. But, Americans do love a challenge.
API Technologies has a unique perspective on electromagnetic spectrum solutions, given our footprint across RF/microwave, EMI, and security technologies, as well as our geographic presence across a number of allied countries. We are on the front lines of Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) solution development. I am pleased to say that even despite a difficult budget environment, innovation continues.
While progress is being made every day, our work is not done. What Mr. Shaffer’s comments certainly brought to light is the pressing need for greater focus on this increasingly critical piece of our defense strategy. It is my hope that others within the defense and government community have taken note.
Tara Flynn Condon (@api_taracondon) is a published writer and Vice President of API Technologies Corp.