New spectrum management tools en route to Baghdad

Defense Department officials have greenlighted the fielding of an experimental system designed to help U.S. ground forces in the Baghdad area sort out conflicts in the use of electromagnetic spectrum.

A panel overseeing the Coalition Joint Spectrum Management and Planning Tool, as the system is called, made the decision to send 24 laptop PCs loaded with the experimental software into Iraq Aug. 30, said Thomas Taylor, a spectrum analyst in DOD’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.

The lack of spectrum management tools has emerged as a pressing issue in the fight against improvised explosive devices in Iraq, military leaders have said. Troops on patrol can turn on jammers to prevent remotely triggered IEDs from exploding, but those jammers also render friendly communications gear useless.

The new tool is designed to tell spectrum managers accompanying military convoys in the Baghdad area which frequencies U.S. forces can safely jam without impairing their own or civilian Iraqi communications.

Iraqi authorities and the U.S. military have established a process to coordinate the use of spectrum in Iraq, Taylor said in an interview earlier this year. Central Command officials have played a key role in the process, he added.

DOD officials have twice postponed a decision to field an initial batch of computers capable of running the system. The original plan was to ship a small amount of them to Iraq in June. But earlier this year, officials decided they needed more time to catalog the waveform characteristics of U.S. military gear and known civilian emitters in Baghdad. A subsequent meeting scheduled for the beginning of August was postponed due to scheduling conflicts, sources say.

The tool is funded in part by the Joint IED Defeat Organization.

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