After two decades of largely ignoring the danger, the Army is seriously training for a scary scenario: What if GPS, our satellite communications and our wireless networks go down?
It’s hardly a hypothetical threat. Russian electronic warfare units locate Ukrainian troops by their transmissions and jam their radios so they can’t call for help, setting them up for slaughter. American soldiers are much better trained and equipped than Ukrainian ones, but they’re also much more dependent on wireless devices. Almost 80 percent of an armored brigade’s equipment depends to some degree on space. Over 250 systems use satellite communications; more than 2,500 use GPS. Even short-range tactical communications relay on radio.
We depend on networks for everything from communications to guiding precision weapons, to not shooting friendly units by accident, “to not getting lost in the woods — not that I’ve ever been lost,” said Gen. David Perkins, head of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our digital technology has been an “asymmetric advantage” adversaries couldn’t match, but all advantages in war are temporary, Perkins warned reporters at the Association of the US Army conference here.