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ILW Paper Warns of Communications Issues

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U.S. Army
Thursday, November 16, 2017

A new Institute of Land Warfare policy paper raises concerns about Army ground and satellite communications, warning a “dangerous reliance” on commercial satellites to provide communications and data to deployed forces and inadequate protection against jamming pose risk to future operations.

Written by Maj. Andrew H. Boyd, a 1st Armored Division officer, the paper published by the educational arm of the Association of the U.S. Army calls this “one of the U.S. Army’s most critical vulnerabilities.”

Most Mission Command systems rely on high data rates provided by networks of leased commercial satellites that lack adequate protection from jamming and anti-satellite missiles, and don’t function in far northern latitudes. There also has been no emphasis on electronic warfare, Boyd says.

“If even a single U.S. communications satellite were destroyed, it could have devastating effects on communications for land forces,” Boyd writes.

Boyd suggests a solution. “The U.S. Army must procure communication systems that maintain the information high ground but also allow redundancy, flexibility and survivability against threats,” and also “refine its doctrine to place proper emphasis on the possibility of electronic attack and detection.”

The paper, “Satellite and Ground Communication Systems: Space and Electronic Warfare Threats to the United States Army,” is available to download here: https://www.ausa.org/publications/satellite-and-ground-communication-systems-space-and-electronic-warfare-threats-united