JED Show Daily

Defining the Future EMS Workforce

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The theme for this year’s convention, “Building the EMS Enterprise,” calls for cohesive and decisive action to address the needs of Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) from every angle, from research and development (R&D) to acquisition to operations. And, according to panelists at yesterday's "Demand Signal for the EMS Workforce" session, developing and sustaining a functional, skilled EMS workforce is an integral part of the broader EMS Enterprise objective.

Session Chair Tom Taylor, GS15, EMS Policy & International Engagement, DOD CIO, asked panelists to consider, though a major challenge for EMSO is the congested, contested and constrained nature of the EMS, whether the greater issue facing defense operations is in fact a need for information, or a need for an expanded and dedicated EMS workforce.

According to panelists, both information and workforce are critical to the overall EMS enterprise mission, but in terms of priority, Lt Col Andrew Glass, USAF, Spectrum Policy & International Engagements, DOD CIO, pointed out that without a workforce, information is virtually useless.

Glass said there is of course a need for data, but in order to make use of that data, there have to be people – EMS operators – to gather, analyze and act on that information. According to Glass, “It doesn’t matter how much information we have if we have no operators.”

Taylor noted that placing an increased importance on EMS workforce development and sustainment is also necessary to combat an increasing number of electronic attack (EA) targets in theater and to address the need to fill positions left by an ever-an ageing EMS workforce.

So how do defense professionals and military personnel ensure the EMS workforce is a recognized priority across the Services and is addressed alongside EMS R&D, acquisitions and operational endeavors? Panelists identified workforce incentivization and the creation of clear organizational structures as two avenues to improve the EMS workforce.

According to CDR Shelly Frank, USN, Military Faculty at Joint Forces Staff College, National Defense University, in order to grow the EMS workforce and achieve EMS superiority, there first needs to be an EMSO structure in place that allows for organizational clarity, from leadership down through the echelons.

This, Frank said, can be achieved in four stages: 1) Identify key EMS competencies and positions 2) Design an EMS enterprise infrastructure, including establishing an educational framework for EMS professionals; including engineers and technicians in EMS training processes; standardizing EMS training at all learning institutions; and assigning EMS professionals to critical billets 3) Develop an EMS community, including enabling a sustainable workforce of EMS professionals and establishing the EMS workforce as a community within DOD and Joint Forces manuals, and 4) Implement a five-year workforce plan that allows for the integration of an EMS workforce across the Services.

Glass, too, said structure would play a large part in successfully building an EMS workforce. He said there needs to be policy and strategy in place that informs Electromagnetic Battle Management (EMBM) and spectrum reform. The goal of EMBM, according to Glass, is to ensure EMS access and maneuverability, and the entire concept of EMBM depends upon a functional EMS workforce to fill the positions required for effective EMBM with the right people who have the right skillsets.

According to CAPT Brian Hinkley, USN (Ret), Vice President for EMS Strategic Operations, AECOM, the EMS is a battlespace that is “on par with other warfighting domains,” and the various Services should be organized accordingly. Hinkley said each Service needs both EW officers and spectrum managers who work specifically in those roles to complement the IW officers and Information Systems Technicians who are already in place.

In addition, Hinkley, along with panelist Angela Lane, Deputy Chief, Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Information Analysis and Fusion, Joint Electronic Warfare Center, said incentivizing an EMSO career could be crucial to building the workforce. Hinkley said there needs to be an organizational structure that enables career growth and success within the field of EMSO, and EMS operators should be able to transition into EMSO roles without sacrificing their careers in a separate area of expertise.

Lane viewed incentives from a hiring and sustainment perspective, suggesting direct hiring incentives for EMS professionals, in-house training and degree programs for the existing EMS professionals, and creating more sharing and internship programs within the EMS enterprise.

Overall, panelists agreed; in order for the EMS enterprise, as a whole, to succeed, the development of the EMS workforce must be a priority as much as the development of capabilities. – Hope Swedeen


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