Photo Story: The
Army has outlined plans for a new electronic warfare, signals
intelligence and cyber capability for larger echelons. (U.S. Army)
WASHINGTON (c4isrnet.com) — In what some observers might view as back to the future,
the U.S. Army is altering the way it fights to keep up with
sophisticated adversaries, which means shifting from the
brigade-centered focus of the last decade to bringing the division and
corps levels into the fold.
As a result, new capabilities are under development to increase range,
fight deeper and bolster presence on the nonphysical battlefield, such
as the electromagnetic spectrum.
Officials said a fight against a nation-state like Russia or China must
begin at the corps level, where the focus is destroying high-priority
systems to lay the groundwork for lower echelons. They added that the
corps level must eliminate these targets first, passing them to the
lower echelons to include division and brigade, which are both designed
for a closer fight to move the enemy back.
“We have got to be able to see deep. If we don’t have the ability to
sense at the corps level, really what we’re doing is we’re deferring
that fight down to the brigade level,” Col. Clint Tracy, III Corps cyber
and electromagnetic activities chief, said during a Sept. 29 virtual
panel hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “If we build the other way
up, from the brigades to corps … they may not necessarily be equipped
without additional enablers to kill those things in the battlespace.”
Enter what officials are calling the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade, or TLS-EAB, formerly referred to as TLS-Extended Range.
Army leaders this week detailed the first initial notional concepts and
timeline for the new capability, which will be mainly a division and
corps asset capable of reaching and prosecuting targets that the TLS
system at the brigade combat team level cannot.
“TLS-EAB is intended to provide commanders at echelons above brigade
the ability to sense, provide improved precision geolocation, conduct
non-kinetic fires and support kinetic targeting for a broad coverage of
targets … [that] are unreachable by TLS at BCT,” Col. Jennifer McAfee,
Army capability manager for terrestrial layer and identity, said during
the same event. TLS-BCT, or Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat
Team, is the Army’s first brigade-focused, integrated signals
intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber platform.
“TLS-EAB also provides defensive electronic attack to protect our
critical nodes, i.e., our command posts and other critical nodes
vulnerable to the adversary’s precision fires,” McAfee added.
also said TLS-EAB will address several gaps in large-scale combat
operations to include deep sensing to help target enemy systems in
anti-access/area denial environments, and to conduct reconnaissance and
security at long ranges.
It will also provide capabilities for signals intelligence and
electronic warfare teams within the Multidomain Task Force’s
Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space (I2CEWS)
battalion, as well as signals intelligence and electronic warfare
battalions at the division and corps levels.
How is TLS-EAB different from existing capabilities?
The key difference between TLS-EAB and other electronic warfare,
intelligence and cyber platforms — both airborne or ground-based — is
that the former protects static assets from enemy missiles and unmanned
systems that use radar fusing and homing.
Officials said the new system will be broken into two broad threat
categories: the aforementioned protection against precision-guided
munitions dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum; and theater, corps
and division targets to include ISR, command and control, low- and
mid-altitude beyond-line-of-sight comminutions, navigation, and air and
The service will achieve these effects through advanced electronic
attack techniques, radio frequency-delivered cyber effects, military
information support operations (formerly called psychological
operations), and the deception of adversary sensors.
More granularly, TLS-EAB will be broken into two subsystems for those
two missions: one for long-range collection, electronic support and
effects; and one for defensive electronic attack. Each will include a
trailer attached to the eventual vehicle the Army determines for
While a specific platform hasn’t specifically been identified for
TLS-EAB, officials said they are eyeing something wheeled from the
family of medium tactical vehicles.
Interoperability and long range
Moreover, the system will connect with other reconnaissance systems in
an attempt to shorten the sensor-to-shooter timeline, which involves
rapidly delivery sensitive data from sensors to the platforms or
individuals who take action.
These include the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or
TITAN; the Multidomain Sensing System; TLS-BCT; the Electronic Planning
and Management Tool; the Multifunction Electronic Warfare-Air Large; and
the integrated tactical network.
TLS-EAB is one of the top priorities of the Army’s ISR Task Force,
which is modernizing the service’s ability to see across huge ranges
through a layered approach that involves the ground, air and space
U.S. adversaries have invested in capabilities that aim to keep forces
at bay, such as advanced missiles and radars. To allow American forces
to penetrate those capabilities and move back ground-based adversaries,
larger echelons such as the corps must be able to see and understand
these regions in full, which could be over thousands of miles.
This also means sifting through all the noise in the congested
electromagnetic spectrum to understand and prioritize specific targets.
As such, the corps level must see more of the spectrum than the
brigade, said Tracy of III Corps, because if the higher echelons did
their jobs right, there shouldn’t be a whole lot left for brigades to
deal with in the non-kinetic realm when they are eventually deployed.
Units aren’t expected to first receive TLS-EAB until at least fiscal 2022, the same year as TLS-BCT.
The current plan outlined by officials, which they stressed is all
notional, is to have a total of 67 TLS-EABs: four per I2CEWS equaling
16; three per corps equaling nine; four per division equaling 40; and
two at training locations.
The sketch provided by Army leaders is an industry day in January, with
a draft request for proposals set for February and bids in October.
Adams Barret (USA XairForces Editor)