ACC Commander: Dominance in electromagnetic spectrum is not optional

  • Published
  • By Capt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs

The Crows of the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing welcomed the Air Combat Command leadership team and their spouses to Eglin Air Force Base, recently, where they saw firsthand the wing’s role in providing joint and coalition partners with electromagnetic warfare capabilities needed to dominate the spectrum. 

The wing, activated in 2021, has its origins in the 53rd Wing at Eglin; the same wing Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander of Air Combat Command, previously commanded. The now inactive 53rd Electronic Warfare Group, went on to become eight squadrons across the 350th SWW that Wilsbach had the opportunity to engage with during his visit. 

“Going through the 350th today and seeing how much has changed was impressive,” Wilsbach said. “The advancements, changes and speed at which the wing operates enhances the focus on the primary challenge – China.” 

Wilsbach and Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, ACC’s command chief, were briefed on the wing’s current process to rapidly reprogram critical mission data under wartime contingencies and how it is reshaping its approach to combat adversaries in the spectrum.

“Electromagnetic spectrum operations are a significant part of how we operate,” Wilsbach said. “The operations that are happening today in the Pacific will inform the data and what will happen here at the 350th. That data will in turn be used by those same operators for an advantage against China.” 

Part of that reshaping includes the planned activation of the 950th Spectrum Warfare Group at Robins AFB, Georgia. The 950th SWG is projected to expand the wing’s ability to assess every aircraft in the Combat Air Force inventory, ensuring readiness through assessment of EMS-based combat capabilities. 

The wing conveyed the resourcing challenges associated with reinvesting in spectrum-based capabilities, including the ability to gain experienced Airmen who are familiar with EW—a challenge on both the officer, enlisted and civilian sides of the force. 

“We need to have an ecosystem for experts in electronic warfare and spectrum warfare,” Wilsbach said. “The focus on creating that pipeline will develop our Airmen and prepare them to execute the mission of the Spectrum Warfare Wing.” 

Wolfe agreed with Wilsbach and wing leadership, stating, “There’s a lot of work to be done from Air Combat Command to ensure we are doing everything possible to resource a new wing.” 

During the visit, Wolfe hosted an all-call with the 350th and 53rd Wing enlisted members touching on the readiness of the force to meet the pacing challenge of China and other adversaries in the Indo-Pacific region. 

“We’re the only enlisted force on the planet that can do what would be needed in the Pacific,” said Wolfe. “The professionalism and the excellence of our enlisted corps is a distinct advantage and is full of winners who do a job every day and make things happen.” 

The ACC command team learned how the wing is weaponizing data and how it is essential for disrupting, degrading and destroying enemy command, control and communication systems. This is being done through efforts conducted at units such as the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron, which supports the entire Department of Defense F-35 Lightning II fleet. 

The wing also showcased its role in prioritizing EMSO-integration into exercises such as Red Flag, Bamboo Eagle and more, supporting Wilsbach’s exercise priorities and providing warfighters and planners across the joint force realistic EW training environments and education. 

“EMSO needs to be integrated into our training,” said Wilsbach. “As we go forward with these large force exercises...the [350th] Spectrum Warfare Wing and its mission will be integral. Electronic warfare is not a special thing; it is just what we do.” 

The Air force’s ability to generate, sustain and deliver decisive multi-domain effects to achieve air component commander objectives depends on the 350th SWW, a message that was on display during the visit. 

“It’s been fantastic being at Eglin and interacting with the Airmen,” said Wilsbach. “They’re addressing the most pressing needs our service has and getting results. Dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum is required; it’s no longer optional. If you don’t pay attention in that area, you’re going to get beat.”