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The Pentagon is reportedly getting serious about electronic warfare
The Pentagon reportedly plans on establishing a new task force to "regain U.S. dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum" after U.S. service members experienced Russian jamming tactics firsthand in Syria, according to documents obtained by Al-Monitor.
According to Al-Monitor, the new task force will produce an "updated electronic warfare strategy and roadmap"f for Congress under the guidance of Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation's highest-ranking officer.
The Al-Monitor report came just days after James Faist, the Pentagon's under secretary for defense research and engineering, advised the defense industry to prepare for time-sensitive, rapid-prototyping efforts for "really urgent[ly] needed" electronic warfare missions."
Russia's aggressive expansion of its EW capabilities in conflict zones and the resurgence of "great power competition" as the Pentagon's central strategic focus have made bridging that EW capability gap a major priority.
After flexing its electronic warfare muscles during the annexation of Crimea following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the Russian military ramped up EW testing in war-torn Syria, disabling U.S. communications networks EC-130 aircraft in what then-U.S. Special Operations Command chief Gen. Raymond Thomas called "the most aggressive EW environment on the planet from our adversaries."
Indeed, members of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command got a taste of future warfare with Russia during a 2018 deployment to Syria, continuously training from an "electromagnetic perspective," as Col. George Schreffler III said this past February.
Those capabilities are now shifting to the Arctic. In March 2019, the Norwegian government claimed it had proof that Russian forces actively disrupted GPS signals during Trident Juncture, the largest NATO war games since the end of the Cold War conducted around Northern Europe and the Arctic in late 2018. Those efforts, according to Norwegian government, actively disrupted both civilian and military air traffic and navigation.
And according to Russia military officials cited by the country's Izvestia newspaper, Moscow's Northern Fleet at the end of May established an EW "shield" along Russia's Arctic coast are capable of jamming satellite and drone communications, GPS signals, and other navigational system at ranges of up to 5,000 and 8,000 kilometers, depending on weather conditions.
As Breaking Defense notes, the DoD disbanded most of its electronic warfare asserts following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. And with Russia's capabilities expanding by the day, it'll be up to Pentagon leaders like Selva and Faist to rapidly develop systems to fight back.
"[Electronic warfare is] an area that we're behind our adversaries, we're not moving fast," Faist "When we mentioned the idea of doing this there was just a groundswell of enthusiasm ... because we've just lost so much capability."
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While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.