Overview of Department of Defense Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Communication using the electromagnetic spectrum (“the spectrum”) enables a number of modern military capabilities. The Department of Defense (DOD) uses electromagnetic radiation to enable military communications, navigation, radar, nonintrusive inspection of aircraft, and other equipment. DOD also heavily relies on electromagnetic radiation for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) applications such as missile early warning and signals intelligence. Individual branches of the military (e.g., the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Space Force) currently are allotted significant ranges of frequency bands to enable various equipment and applications that support military operations. Potential adversaries like China and Russia have observed how the United States wages war through conflicts ranging from Desert Storm to Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom over the past 30 years. These potential adversaries have identified the DOD’s use of the spectrum as a critical enabler, and, as a result, have developed weapon systems, particularly electronic warfare (EW) platforms, designed to challenge the DOD’s ability to effectively use the spectrum. These technologies designed to deny access to the spectrum are part of a series of systems and technologies that are commonly referred to as anti-access/area denial capabilities. Several new and emerging technologies and methods to employ existing technologies (called concepts) are being developed to counter these challenges. These new technologies include directed energy, artificial intelligence, and counter-unmanned aircraft systems. Concepts like Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and Mosaic Warfare look to change the nature of how the DOD communicates and uses the spectrum. The U.S. government manages access to and use of spectrum. As the nation continues to experience significant growth in commercial wireless services (e.g., mobile phones, mobile applications, video streaming, Wi-Fi), demand for spectrum has increased. Congress has enacted policies to make additional spectrum available for commercial use, in some cases reallocating spectrum from federal agency use to commercial use.     Purchase this Volume