SOF electronic warfare soldier works to save lives on the modern battlefield

NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Cameron Christensen

Date: 07.23.2012
Posted: 07.23.2012 04:09
News ID: 91988
SOF electronic warfare soldier works to save lives on the modern battlefield

KABUL, Afghanistan – As militaries around the world develop new technology to combat the effectiveness of radar and communications, electronic warfare specialists are quickly proving their worth on the frontlines of today’s modern battlefield.

Electronic warfare combats electronic threats; whether they’re from a computer network, satellite system or just ordinary personal devices, like a mobile phone.

“It’s all around us, but you can’t see it,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Rondeau, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan electronic warfare non-commissioned officer in charge. “And the better we are at controlling the electronic battlefield, the less effective the enemy’s attacks are on us.”

A common electronic warfare attack used today is the remote controlled improvised explosive device. It’s a threat that has become closely associated with the war in Afghanistan, and takes the lives of many service members, as well as innocent civilians, every year.

Recently, Rondeau traveled to Camp Integrity in Kabul district, Parwan province, to install two electronic warfare systems on special operations forces vehicles there.

“This system, known as Egon, is a highly effective piece of equipment for protection against remote-controlled IEDs,” said Rondeau. “It’s SOF’s version of the conventional forces RC-IED jammer, and it will protect them.”

Since April, there have been 15 known incidents of failed RC-IEDs in Afghanistan directly attributed to the EGON system, according to Maj. Greg Wells, CJSOTF-A electronic warfare officer.

“In one instance, SOF operators reported halting their vehicles during a convoy. As they began clearing the immediate area, they found an RC-IED under one of the tires of a vehicle in the convoy,” said Wells. “Proof the Egon system works.”

Electronic warfare isn’t limited to just combating RC-IEDs. It encompasses the attack and defense of all electronic networks and communications systems, like GPS and satellite communications.

“They call me the ‘jammer guy,’” said Rondeau. “So, I’m trying to educate people about EW, because there’s a misunderstanding about it. I’m not just the ‘jammer guy,’ and that’s why I try to train as I travel.”

Through on-the-spot training, given during his frequent visits to more than one hundred special operations forces sites, he informs the special operations forces operators who rely daily on electronic warfare equipment, like the Egon, to keep them safe.

“The more they understand, the more apt they are to use the equipment,” said Rondeau. “Bottomline, this job saves lives.”