JED - August 2013 - 14


f ro m o u r re ade r s

JED welcomes and publishes letters to the editor when we’re
lucky enough to receive them. Please send letters to John Knowles, or to

John Knowles’ May 2013 article “Why Two Domains Are Better Than One” argues that the electromagnetic (EM) and cyber
environment are technically separate, distinct concepts. He notes that maintaining this technical distinction is important,
despite a trend in DOD officials lumping the two environments together under the cyber heading. But Mr. Knowles’ column
overlooks the important public policy context in which this lumping together of concepts is taking place.
This public policy context matters because it partly helps to explain why DOD officials are eager to put the EM environment and the cyber environment together. Congress is throwing loads of money at cybersecurity initiatives: DOD’s 2013 budget includes around $5 billion for cybersecurity, and it is reasonable to expect this figure to increase considerably in future
defense budgets. Cybersecurity incidents are in the headlines each week. And, one would be hard-pressed to find a single
representative or senator in Washington who is not at least passingly familiar with the importance of funding cybersecurity
projects. By contrast, we don’t hear much about EM threats or EM incidents in the news these days, and Capitol Hill is not
exactly abuzz with talk of paying for EM environment security.
Given this context, it makes sense for DOD officials to slap the cyber laabel on the EM environment, even if EM and cyber are technically distinct
concepts. Placing the EM environment and the cyber environment together
– at least rhetorically – helps to ensure steady Congressional funding for EM
projects. When DOD officials place the two concepts together under the cyber
heading, then lobby Congress for cyber money, they actually lobby for both
EM and cyber money. Every increase in Congressional funding for cyber projects, then, is also an increase in funding for EM projects. DOD officials who
describe the EM environment and cyber environment as a singular, cohesive
whole may be technically incorrect. But if they wish to ensure the long-term
financial health of projects in both the EM environment and the cyber environment, then they are absolutely right.

The Journal of Electronic Defense | August 2013

Austen D. Givens
PhD student in Public Policy
Department of Political Economy
King’s College London
Editor’s response: Sir, I appreciate your willingness to comment on the
article, “Why Two Domains Are Better than One.” I feel compelled, however,
to respond to several points in your letter (above). The most important
point is that the differences between the cyber and EM environments are
not a “technical distinction,” as you suggested. The differences are physically and operationally significant. In terms of the physical differences,
Cyberspace is part of the Information Environment, and the EM Environment is a separate physical environment. This distinction lays the foundation for the fact that operational responsibility for the EM domain shares very little in common with
operational responsibility for the cyber domain.
Any attempt to treat these two domains and these two sets of operational responsibilities as essentially a “singular,
cohesive whole” will warp and ultimately unravel the unique cyber and EM (especially EW) strategies and capabilities that
we need to operate successfully in both of these domains. Just as cyberspace comprises far more than the relatively small
set of frequencies (from about 400 MHz to 6 GHz) that information networks use in the EM environment, so too is the EM
environment far larger than the relatively small number of electronic systems and devices that are actually networked via
cyberspace. Before we create any organization construct that treats the two domains as one, we had first better ask the
entire operational community if this makes any sense.
Your letter also raises the issue of funding and resources. The idea that EM-related funding would be more secure under
a Cyber-EM construct is not logical. Some offensive RF electronic attack programs are certainly bolstered by their ability
to support cyber attack. However, there is no reason to believe that the vast majority of EM-related programs (everything
from flares and missile warning systems to radars, GPS receivers, EO/IR targeting systems, etc.) will receive better funding
support just because they are organized under cyber. As you wrote, most of today’s cyber strategy is focused on cybersecurity. It is not clear how this focus would translate into more support for EM-related programs or organizations. – J. Knowles

JED - August 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - August 2013

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From The President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
The Spectrum Management Challenge: Creating Order From Chaos
Technology Survey: ELINT Receivers
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - August 2013 - cover1
JED - August 2013 - cover2
JED - August 2013 - 3
JED - August 2013 - 4
JED - August 2013 - 5
JED - August 2013 - The View From Here
JED - August 2013 - 7
JED - August 2013 - Conferences Calendar
JED - August 2013 - 9
JED - August 2013 - Courses Calendar
JED - August 2013 - 11
JED - August 2013 - From The President
JED - August 2013 - 13
JED - August 2013 - Letters
JED - August 2013 - The Monitor
JED - August 2013 - 16
JED - August 2013 - 17
JED - August 2013 - 18
JED - August 2013 - 19
JED - August 2013 - 20
JED - August 2013 - 21
JED - August 2013 - Washington Report
JED - August 2013 - 23
JED - August 2013 - World Report
JED - August 2013 - 25
JED - August 2013 - 26
JED - August 2013 - 27
JED - August 2013 - The Spectrum Management Challenge: Creating Order From Chaos
JED - August 2013 - 29
JED - August 2013 - 30
JED - August 2013 - 31
JED - August 2013 - 32
JED - August 2013 - 33
JED - August 2013 - 34
JED - August 2013 - 35
JED - August 2013 - 36
JED - August 2013 - Technology Survey: ELINT Receivers
JED - August 2013 - 38
JED - August 2013 - 39
JED - August 2013 - 40
JED - August 2013 - 41
JED - August 2013 - 42
JED - August 2013 - 43
JED - August 2013 - 44
JED - August 2013 - 45
JED - August 2013 - 46
JED - August 2013 - 47
JED - August 2013 - EW 101
JED - August 2013 - 49
JED - August 2013 - 50
JED - August 2013 - AOC News
JED - August 2013 - 52
JED - August 2013 - Index of Advertisers
JED - August 2013 - JED Quick Look
JED - August 2013 - cover3
JED - August 2013 - cover4