News: Electronic warfare protects civilians, allies
Story by Lance Cpl. Scott L. Tomaszycki
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - On one deployment, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 Marines supported operations in both Libya and Afghanistan with electronic warfare capabilities from September 2011 to April 2012.
The squadron supported back-to-back deployments because they are in such high demand, said Lt. Col. Chandler P. Seagraves, the squadron's commanding officer. As one of just four electronic warfare squadrons in the Marine Corps, their ability to jam communications and attack enemy air defenses is in constant demand.
For Libya operations, the squadron operated out of Aviano Air Base in Italy to protect coalition aircraft by suppressing Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses. With the air defenses inactive, NATO aircraft conducted strikes preventing the dictator from killing civilians, enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
"We ensured Libya was unable to use their surface-to-air missiles or their integrated air defenses to be able to target coalition or United Nations operations," said Seagraves. "We affected the entire battle space because our job was not just support Marines, but all coalition forces."
The squadron flies the EA-6B Prowler, which uses the high-tech Increased Capabilities III kit to accomplish its mission. According to an official Northrop Grumman website said it can jam enemy radars and communications, as well as detect and destroy enemy radar installations with missiles built for this purpose.
In Afghanistan, VMAQ-1 flew in support of coalition troops by jamming enemy communications and preventing IED attacks.
"Communication is a huge piece of any modern army," said Capt. Timothy J. Kochman, an electronic countermeasures officer with VMAQ-1. "If the enemy can't talk to each other, it degrades their ability to effectively employ their weapons."
Capt. Dustin R. Stafford, an electronic counter measures officer with the squadron, said ground units regularly provide feedback saying Prowler actions make a difference.
"Prowlers provide a measure of protection to airborne assets and ground forces," said Stafford. "If Prowlers were not in theater, most operations would still continue but at increased risk to supporting units whether that's aircraft or troops on the ground."