This Marine Raider wears a backpack mounted signal intelligence system
A recently released photo of Marine Raiders leading realistic urban training shows an operator carrying a backpack with a large tube antenna protruding from it. While this system, and the entire image, can be taken straight from a blockbuster action movie or modern military first-person shooter video game, it is a very real tool capable of to detect and geolocate enemy signals. This can provide useful real-time intelligence on enemy forces and their movements, as well as better situational awareness.
The Raiders in question were training in Nashville, Tennessee, with the regular Marines, earlier this month, as part of what is known as a Raven exercise. Maritime Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) uses Raven exercises to prepare Raiders for upcoming deployments. In a photo, seen at the top of this story, the Raider wearing the system in question, who is part of a large family known as the Common Threat Alert System (JTWS), is crouched in front of a Western Star Truck in one warehouse, while another provides immediate security. In another shot, seen below, what may be the same Raider equipped with JTWS is seen with other Marines outside what could be the same building.
These images, and others from this same exercise Raven, describe what happens as a mock “night raid” and that the exercise, as a whole, “simulates real tactical scenarios to improve interoperability, the the unit’s overall effectiveness and lethality against an adversary. Oblige. “
Incorporating the JTWS family backpack-mounted component into this exercise would have given the combined force of conventional Raiders and Marines a significant additional source of information during the exercise, just as it would in the real world. life. The exact capabilities of this particular system, which appears to be the most recent iteration of the “body-worn” segment of the large JTWS family, is unclear.
A 2019 briefing from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) JTWS Program Manager says that this system was able to provide very high frequency / ultra high frequency (VHF / UHF) direction finding function. Other sources make it clear that even the backpack elements of the JTWS family have some level of geolocation and communications interception capabilities. This means that they can both determine the source of a radio frequency broadcast and, if it is some type of unencrypted radio or other communication conversations, listen to it.
The available information also indicates this location data can be displayed, even for moving targets, superimposed on a digital map on a portable tablet device, along with other relevant information. In the image at the top of this story, the Raider carrying the system can be seen by looking at this portable user interface. Operators should also be able to pass this information on to other units or larger command centers.
In the past, SOCOM has described the different versions of these backpack-mounted systems as a “threat alert, force protection and situational awareness toolkit”. In short, they offer even small units a way to spot hostile or potentially hostile forces before they necessarily see them, as well as provide a clearer picture of the immediate battlespace, in general, depending on the location of different types of radio frequency emissions.
In addition, when conducting raids and other direct action missions, as well as long-range “special reconnaissance” operations, it can assist in locating the positions of targets of interest, as well as helping to locate targets of interest. collect other potentially exploitable signals intelligence (SIGINT) data, in near real time. The system may be able to spot certain types of improvised explosive devices that use remote triggers, such as cell phones, which regularly ping their networks to make sure they stay connected.
It should be noted that portable direction-finding equipment and even more robust electromagnetic intelligence systems are hardly new. Various types have been employed by conventional American forces, as well as by special operations units. The particular system used in this recent Raven exercise also has a general outward appearance which is very similar to various backpack mounted electronic warfare jammers, primarily intended to disrupt improvised explosive devices, which were widely used for years now.
Different iterations of the various components of the JTWS alone, which also include larger systems designed for installation on various types of aircraft, boats, and land vehicles with and without a pilot, have been in service for decades. In the early 2000s, there were at least a few older electromagnetic intelligence systems already available for SOCOM, including portable types, were also officially part of the big JTWS family.
“The SOF legacy [special operations forces] SIGINT systems have demonstrated the great value of tactical SIGINT in many recent missions involving SOFs, ”then-director Brigadier General Donald Wurster told members of the Senate. of the SOCOM Intelligence and Information Operations Center. Armed Services Committee all the way back in 2004. “The acquisition and commissioning of JTWS is essential to provide enhanced situational awareness, force protection and time-sensitive intelligence to target supported SOF elements.
However, as a writer for Soldier Systems Daily Noted while discussing JTWS developments in 2017, “while I was using a first version of this system in Haiti over 20 years ago, it has come a long way since the AN / TRQ-30 DF [direction-finding] loops first sent to 3rd group [the U.S. Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group] in 1990. They were at the height of 1950s technology and the receiver was used as 30 D batteries. “
Advances in general computing power and the continued miniaturization of electronics mean that signals intelligence suites, along with related electronic warfare systems and electronic support measures, have steadily improved their overall capability, while shrinking in size. size, over the years. Not to mention more recent developments in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, which seem set to revolutionize intelligence gathering and electronic warfare, among other aspects of future conflicts, at large.
Advanced electronic warfare capabilities, many of which rely on existing electromagnetic intelligence systems in particular, are of increasing interest in all branches of the U.S. military, including among conventional and special operations units. . This comes as adversaries and potential adversaries, especially potential rivals close to their peers, such as Russia and China, have made their own significant progress in these areas, which could have serious consequences for US forces. in future combat operations and non-combat activities. It’s something The war zone has explored in depth in the past.
With all of that in mind, it seems more than likely that portable electromagnetic intelligence systems, much like the ones the Marines Raiders brought to this recent Raven exercise, as well as similar electronic warfare sequels that could fit in a backpack. back, will become increasingly a common feature of future US military operations, whether involving special forces, conventional units, or both.
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