News: Learning to jam the enemy
Story by Sgt. Jarred Woods
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The enemy never fails to develop ever more ingenious methods that threaten U.S. forces and its coalition partners. As these methods of terrorism evolve, so must the counter-measures that thwart these efforts.
Counter radio-controlled electronic warfare, also known as CREW, has played an integral role in force protection throughout the theater of operations in Afghanistan. These CREW systems, commonly referred to as ‘jammers’, are constantly being updated and improved.
Brian Duncan, a CREW senior engineer with International Joint Command, leads a program that trains Soldiers and contractors on these systems.
“RCIED’s (radio controlled improvised explosive device) are going to be used continually by insurgents,” said Duncan. “They’re not going to come out and fight us; we’ve known that through Afghanistan and Iraq. IED’s are a great standoff device for them to inflict casualties against U.S. forces.”
CREW systems function essentially as a cell phone tower; only in reverse. Instead of projecting a signal to receive, they ‘jam’ or disrupt all incoming radio frequencies within a designated spectrum. The need to train personnel to operate, set up and maintain these systems only reinforces their success on the battlefield.
“It’s extremely effective,” added Duncan. “If you look at the statistics for RCIED’s in Iraq and Afghanistan, as long as they have the system turned on, they jam all RCIED’s. We’ve never had a successful RCIED attack against a vehicle or dismounted person. That’s how capable this equipment is.”
Staff Sgt. David Marksmeier, an electronic warfare officer (EWO) with the 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, works continually to ensure that all CREW system under his care are properly maintained and remain fully mission capable. Not only does Marksmeier repair problems with CREW systems, he also strives to instill knowledge and confidence by leading from the front.
“If someone is having issues with their system, not only will I go and fix the problem, but I’ll also mentor and educate them on the procedure, troubleshooting and operation of the counter-measures,” said Marksmeier. “It’s a very important job to make sure every system is up to date. I also roll out with my Soldiers, to act as an example that this equipment does work.”
As long as the enemy presents a RCIED threat, a CREW system will be there to protect the Soldier on the ground. CREW’s proven effectiveness has secured a permanent addition in the U.S. military’s arsenal.
“If you just think of it as an M16; it’s going to be a piece of equipment we always use,” said Duncan. “We always use the Abrams battle tank, artillery and aircraft. Using crew systems provides protections and it’s going to be used in the future.”