DILLINGHAM AIRFIELD, Hawaii --- As Soldiers move across the battlefield, under the cover of night, the enemy may be capturing their physical location. Compromised information could end their mission and endanger their lives. Are they safe? Who can commanders rely on to prevent enemy technology from detecting them?
Electronic warfare specialists, military occupational specialty 29E, have the difficult job of preventing these situations. They assist in all aspects of the fight to block foreign technologies from compromising missions, and they need the latest equipment to accomplish this.
Electronic warfare specialists are as high-tech as the name sounds; they use high frequency "jamming" technology to fight cyber threats on the battlefield and provide commanders with accurate information to ensure the Army maintains its efficiency in electronic warfare and removes threats on the warfront.
Electronic warfare specialists give commanders the added benefit of helping to identity, target and detect potential electromagnetic interference threats on tomorrow's battlefield.
From Aug. 21-31, electronic warfare specialists assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, participated in training and tested new equipment in the field of electronic warfare, here, on the North Shore of Oahu.
The Versatile Radio Observation and Direction, known as the VROD, and the VMAX, the "search and attack" function on the system, are two of the newest platforms that Soldiers have assisted in fielding at Schofield Barracks.
The equipment is from the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, a division of the Department of Defense, and is primarily responsible for helping the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team develop the best method of employing the equipment on future battlefields.
"Currently in the United States Army, there is a gap in electronic warfare in terms of equipment and training," explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Esser, a 25th Infantry Division electronic warfare technician. "New technology such as the VROD/VMAX has the ability to close that gap and create an even more efficient fighting force."
The new technology is seen as a theater asset. In a time of war, it may take up to 72 hours for similar technology to be acquired and used after being requested, explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Bass, a 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team electronic warfare technician.
"This technology could potentially cut that time significantly if units are assigned the equipment full time," said Bass.
"The technology gives great visibility of what we look like to the enemy," he added. "Our brigade can use equipment like the VROD/VMAX as means to protect forms of communication on the battlefield and aid in disrupting or denying our enemy's communication efforts on the other end."
The VROD/VMAX is a small piece of equipment that gives electronic warfare specialists the versatility they need when maneuvering in the fight. It weighs approximately 30 pounds and can be used in mounted and dismounted operations.
The ability to use theater assets in a brigade environment increases the proficiency of the electronic warfare specialist. The equipment is showing its ability to change the fight.
"Its effectiveness can be compared to owning a vehicle for everyday use versus having to go through the process of calling a taxicab every time you need to go anywhere," said Bass.
The gap in electronic warfare at the theater level versus at the brigade level was evident from the training out at Dillingham Airfield.
"There are typically only a small handful of electronic warfare specialists assigned within a brigade. Since the equipment is seen as a theater asset, any amount of training with the VROD/VMAX is hugely beneficial to readiness," explained Esser.
According to John Lynch, chief of the Rapid Applications Branch Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, VROD/VMAX has great potential to help the brigade become a Pacific response force.
The brigade will continue testing the systems at future training exercises this month at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as a part of Operation Cyber Blitz. These exercises will further test the capabilities of the equipment.