U.S. Air Force’s Spectrum Management Office officially transfers to ISR and Cyber Effects Operations staff

The Air Force’s Spectrum Management Office, or AFSMO, officially transferred Oct. 23 from a function under Air Combat Command to full integration under the Headquarters Air Force Staff.

AFMSO joins the Cyberspace Operations and Warfighter Communications Directorate assigned to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Cyber Effects Operations. This is a vital move in a larger plan to support, from a Headquarters Air Force perspective, the synchronization of Information Warfare functions; a move which is happening at the right time for on-going developmental work to enable all-domain operations.

Air and Space Force weapon systems depend on the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) to connect warfighters around the world and across all domains. The Air Force’s growing need for spectrum requires AFSMO to maintain continuous engagement across the federal government, commercial industry and the international community.

Coming just 18 months after the HAF Staff merger of ISR and Cyber Effects Operations, this move is another step in the shift toward great power competition under the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

“This is a critical step to information warfare integration and synchronization because command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) is inextricably linked to EMS management,” said Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, deputy chief of staff for ISR and Cyber Effects Operations. “To compete and win in competition as well as a high-end fight, our Air and Space Force activities and capabilities like EMS must not only be de-conflicted, but integrated with our service counterparts. The heart of JADC2 (Joint All Domain Command and Control) is that military activities in one domain must enhance the effectiveness of those in other domains and compensate for vulnerabilities, and I believe this move will help us in this area.”

AFSMO, continuing to work out of Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, remains integral to helping the Air Force integrate new technologies and adopt new approaches to spectrum management. As the Air Force increases focus on JADC2, effective and efficient management of EMS is exceedingly important because it is a finite and essential resource.

“Given the Air Force-wide scope of AFSMO’s roles and responsibilities, bringing it back to the Air Staff is a natural fit,” said Brig. Gen. Eric DeLange, director of Cyber Operations and Warfighter Communications. DeLange will oversee the AFSMO efforts as part of the HAF Staff. “As we look to advance our efforts in Information Warfare, and with our focus squarely on cyberspace and warfighter communications that so heavily depend on the electromagnetic spectrum, I have no doubt that bringing AFSMO into the Directorate fold will create new and important synergies. I’m definitely excited to have them join the team!”

The current commander, Col. Kenneth Miller best describes their work as “…ensuring Airmen have access to the spectrum they need, when and where they need it.”

The electromagnetic spectrum transcends all physical domains and the information environment and extends beyond defined borders and boundaries. “The Air Force’s insatiable appetite for spectrum requires AFSMO to maintain continuous engagement across the federal government, commercial industry and the international community to ensure our Air Force spectrum equities are protected,” Miller said.

The EMS is a finite resource, and the Air Force must integrate new technologies and adopt new approaches to spectrum management to increase sharing between federal and nonfederal users. An example of this was AFSMO’s efforts to support the federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As much of the American workforce transitioned to telework, the demand for commercial broadband reached new heights. In response, the Federal Communications Commission granted commercial broadband carriers special authorizations to increase bandwidth capacity across several basic economic areas throughout the U.S.

Another top Secretary of the Air Force‘s priority is modernizing the Air Force with new technologies and innovating with urgency. In support of this priority, AFSMO has been working closely with the MAJCOMs responsible for hosting ongoing Advanced Battle Management System, or ABMS, onramps to ensure all spectrum requirements are properly identified and documented. In early September, the second ABMS onramp concluded at Andrews Air Force Base. During this event, live fire demonstrations utilized both 4G- and 5G-networks for access to over 60 data sources. In preparation for the next ABMS onramp, the AFSMO team is gearing up to ensure warfighters will have the spectrum they need to accelerate change.

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