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    CJTF-HOA teams with the Joint Spectrum Center to track an invisible threat across Africa’s crowded skies

    CJTF-HOA teams with the Joint Spectrum Center to track an invisible threat across Africa’s crowded skies

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Brennen Lege | Jonathan Timko, a battlefield spectrum manager, conducts a radio frequency survey in...... read more read more

    Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti - In electronic warfare, operational readiness is vital to maintain dominance across the electromagnetic spectrum because these tactical engagements literally occur at the speed of light, often lasting just milliseconds. Despite being invisible, the air around us is crowded with colliding radio waves that control unmanned aircraft, direct ground units, transmit tactical reports, and track locations in real time.

    To sharpen our warfighters’ edge in this critical domain, a specialized team from the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Joint Spectrum Center in Maryland traveled to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. They teamed with the task force’s Directorate of Communications to deconflict spectrum use, identify radio-based vulnerabilities, formalize spectrum management procedures, and seize the communications high ground of this invisible battlefield.

    “The electromagnetic spectrum is a battle and maneuver space constantly being fought over,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Paul Vinson, a spectrum manager visiting from the JSC. “If we cannot operate within it, we’ll lose a lot of capabilities we’ve grown accustomed to.”

    Vinson has been to Africa six times, including two short-tour deployments, both as a radio operator and spectrum manager. His expertise in the field helped CJTF-HOA re-establish a comprehensive database of friendly signals for every unit operating radio frequency equipment. In order to create this database, the spectrum management team used a variety of mobile RF analyzers and took measurements across the CJTF-HOA area of responsibility.

    “We’re establishing a baseline for HOA,” said Jonathan Timko, a spectrum manager also visiting from the JSC. “There’s limited space on the radio frequency spectrum for units to use without interfering with each other, and it’s our job to deconflict it.”

    For U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jesse Crawford, radio maintainer from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, assigned to CJTF-HOA, the training marked a step up from radio operations at the tactical level to the operational level.

    “I’ve had a great experience with this team over the past three weeks,” said Crawford. “I’m now able to truly visualize the radio frequency data in a way I wasn’t able to before.”

    Coupling the updated radiowave data with new tactics, techniques, and procedures, Crawford’s team will now advance into other operating locations across Africa. “Our task force’s mission stretches across the area of responsibility for United States Africa Command. We’re now empowered to go wherever we’re directed, assess the spectrum, adapt to that environment, and advise the commander on the best employment of his assets.”

    Offering a senior leader perspective, U.S. Air Force Colonel Kjäll Gopaul, Communications Director for CJTF-HOA, added, “Our strong partnership with the JSC is a proven combat multiplier. Their world-class technical expertise surpassed my original objectives. Our operations witnessed immediate improvements to safety of flight, broadcast services, force protection, first responders, and command and control. Our unchallenged mastery of spectrum ensures that we do not accidentally jam ourselves, and provides unhindered freedom of maneuver to friendly forces from advanced threats. While the activity of spectrum is unseen, its impact to our warfighters is real everytime we go outside that wire.”



    Date Taken: 11.19.2019
    Date Posted: 11.19.2019 02:00
    Story ID: 349011
    Location: CAMP LEMONNIER, DJ 

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