Pentagon Unveils Electro-Magnetic Spectrum Strategy

Pentagon Unveils Electro-Magnetic Spectrum Strategy

The Defense Department Thursday announced a long-term plan to share part of its reserved airwaves with industry while preserving security and access for the military to the electro-magnetic spectrum.

The Electro-Magnetic Spectrum Strategy developed with several federal agencies did not mean that the military “will have to make due with less spectrum,” but rather was aimed at working with wireless communications companies to meet the growing need for greater bandwidth, said Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer at the Pentagon.

A key White House advisor on telecommunications attended the briefing by Takai and other defense officials to applaud the effort to reach out to industry . The needs of the nation “can only be met through spectrum sharing,” said Karl Nebbia, associate administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management.

The Defense Department’s announcement was in line with President Obama’s goal of finding 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next decade, Nebbia said.

Takai stressed that the Pentagons’ own wireless spectrum needs would not be compromised by the new strategy. .

I used to say that everything’s connected to the network except if you carry around a weapon, and I was very quickly corrected that ‘no, in fact, most of our weaponry is facilitated by position navigation and timing — or what you’d call GPS,” Takai said.

The new strategy could possibly entail having the Defense Department give up part of the spectrum, while sharing other parts with industry, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Wheeler.

“That’s how we’re going forward with it,” said Wheeler, the Pentagon’s deputy for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Infrastructure. “It also depends on what industry needs, so there’s basically a combination.”

The release of the spectrum strategy would be followed over the next six months with the development of an implementation plan with the troops in mind that will focus on the practical issues involved in apportioning space on the electromagnetic spectrum, Takai said.

“The whole idea behind the spectrum strategy is to try to get ahead of this increasing demand so that they don’t have to operate with radios that are either more difficult to use or that have to be re-calibrated,” Takai said.


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For our military to “give up” it’s EM spectrum, a valuable resource these days, sounds suspicious. That is like looting more of the assets once held by the American people, and probably sold to foreign hands. EM is important, damm the plunderers!

I greatly fear giving up part of the spectrum to industry by the military. The military simply doesn’t know what it will require in the spectrum of the future and once it is given away to industry it is highly unlikely the military would ever be able to regain it if they need it!

IMHO, EM should be made more available to the civilian public communications industry with appropriate contracts with the government. To the military, or any entity, EM is NOT a secure medium and is easily defeated in a multitude of ways like jamming (a.k.a. DOS), EMP and eavesdropping. Partnerships with PROVEN commercial carriers is robust, can be run in parallel with multiple providers and it would undoubtable be managed much better than any government agency. In addition, private corporations have SECURE, REDUNDANT physical media such as fiber-optic, copper wire (yes, it still works), laser point-to-point capabilities — and more.

I’ve been in I.T. and related security disciplines since 1977 with both the private and public sectors. I’ve seen the best (and worst) of such partnerships. My experience with the public sector has always been less favorable than with the private sector. The private sector has competition whereas the public sector does not.


I agree with you!

Military wireless communications are easily defeated, but commercial services are robust? Really?

Pull the other one now…

PS — fiber optic cable is not spectrum. Let me know when you figure out how to run fiber to an armored brigade on the move…

I agree with most of what Harvey says about prior public-private relationships and the various modes of communication. But we already DO have a very effective public-private partnership that handles it all — it’s called the NSA!

I think some things not said in the spectrum strategy are really important:
– DoD is focused on the US domestic spectrum by working with the FCC and NTIA, but I’ve experienced real problems overseas with foreign EM interference over which the US government has no control

- The Strategy is focused on preserving slices of spectrum for Defense systems; but the strategy does not mention embedding DoD comms in existing slices where they can be less easily differentiated from civillian comms, and thus harder to detect


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