When the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd James Austin III, signed the 2020 Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Superiority Strategy’s Implementation Plan on 15 July 2021, I thought about the importance this plan would have on the United States.
Freedom of maneuver and action within the EMS are essential to U.S. and multinational operations. The plan provides the Department of Defense (DoD) with the structure needed to achieve “freedom of action in the electromagnetic spectrum, at the time, place, and parameters of our choosing.”
To achieve this implementation plan, the U.S. will need innovation. To achieve innovation, you must have ideas—lots of ideas from different perspectives in your workforce. The U.S. needs a larger workforce that actively develops ideas and innovations within the EMS space. Many people believe that, in order to contribute EMS ideas, they need to have majored in a science, technology, engineering, or math field or know the secret handshake. (Although you don’t need to know a handshake, having a clearance really helps!)
I believe that if people understand what EMS is and how it can be used, they will contribute more ideas that will feed U.S. innovation in the EMS. The problem is that we cloak the EMS in mystery. Instead of introducing EMS with mathematical concepts, I am going to explain what it is in plain words and provide an example of how it is used in our everyday lives. Simply put, in physics, EMS is the term used to describe the entire range of light that exists. Most people use the term “light” to refer only to the very small range of light that we can see. However, light is a wave of alternating electric and magnet ic fields. The vast majority of light cannot be seen but has many practical uses. For example, if you talk on your cell phone, heat up your breakfast in the microwave, or listen to your favorite radio station while sitting in the doctor’s office to get x-rayed, then you can think of ideas to help the U.S. with its EMS Superiority Strategy.