The military will need the Marines' electronic warfare squadrons beyond 2019
Four EA-6B Prowlers belonging to each Prowler squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point conducted a "Final Four" division flight aboard the air station March 1, 2016. The "Final Four" flight is the last time the Prowler squadrons will be flying together before the official retirement of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 at the end of Fiscal Year 16 and the eventual transition to "MAGTF EW". MAGTF EW is a more distributed strategy where every platform contributes to the EW mission, enabling relevant tactical information to move throughout the electromagnetic spectrum and across the battlefield faster than ever before. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas/Released)
Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece. The writer is not employed by Military Times and the views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Military Times or its editorial staff.
The Marine Corps' decision is to decommissioning four electronic warfare VMAQ squadrons over the next three years is This decision is short sighted and ill-advised — especially when considering the continued threats to our country and the operational challenges facing the F-35 program. The as the country faces global threats worldwide especially when scrutinizing potential threats to our country world-wide and the continuing operational challenges and problems with the F-35 program.
As with Just like the Air Force's' A-10 "Warthog" program, funding issues have played a major role in the Marine Corps’ decision to phase out its EA-6B Prowlers ICAP III decision, not operational requirements. The tactical jamming and electronic attack aircraft, EW, especially Electronic Attack, capabilities that the Prowler brings to the today’s — and future — battlefield are still relevant, and will be well into the next decade. The technology will also be vital to the to the survival of our legacy aircraft like the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and MV-22 Ospreys, as well as our fifth-generation aircraft and will be required into the next decade.
Cost should not be the determining factor in the electronic-warfare VMAQ community’s demise. The "risk to" and "safety of" "RISK TO" and "SAFETY OF" our aircrews and assets should be paramount!
This shorted-sighted decision sends two dozen sun-downs 24 EA-6B ICAP III aircraft into the sunset. It also stands down the Intermediate Maintenance Support assets, vans and personnel used to support autonomous squadron operations and shuts down the electronic warfare schoolhouse where that has formulated EW training and instruction for Marine EA-6B aircrew have trained since Vietnam.
This misguided decision not only negatively impacts Marine Corps operations, but the tactical and strategic capabilities to support the operational plans and tactical requirements of the entire Defense Department and all combatant commands. -wide and combatant commands DOD and COCOM’s OPLAN and tactical requirements.
After the disbandment of the VMAQ community in 2019, 50 percent fifty (50) per cent of DoD's the expeditionary electronic attack capabilities within the Department of Defense will be gone. There are no with NO comparable replacement electronic-warfare EW capabilities within DoD within the Marine Corps DOD or the Marine Corps.
The first step in this sundown decision has already been implemented with the decommissioning of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 One. That move will be followed by e loss of VMAQT-1 is the first step in the total demobilization of the remaining four Marine Corps EA-6B ICAP III squadrons, and the loss of airborne electronic warfare/attack capabilities and EW expertise that have supported the requirements of the Marine Corps and Defense Department DOD’s requirements since Vietnam.
The Navy Department of the Navy has indicated it they will assume DoD's the DOD’s expeditionary airborne electronic-warfare EW requirements after the last stand down of the VMAQ community is shuttered in 2019. However, the Navy’s EA-18G expeditionary community will undertake this DOD EW mission without adding more expeditionary squadrons or EA deployment capabilities. The current Marine Corps decision will reduce COCOM’s warfighting options and resources by 50% with no equivalent replacement capabilities! The four Navy expeditionary EA-18G squadrons will be extremely challenged — or perhaps unable — to meet, global COCOM’s warfighting options and operational requirements.
The loss of the four Marine Prowler squadrons will severely limit the U.S. military's have a detrimental and negative impact on strategic and tactical electronic warfare EA capabilities within the Department of Defense and severely limit COCOM’s warfighting capabilities. The initial stand down of the VMAQ community should be delayed until 2020, providing additional time to review EA alternatives and minimize the loss of these DOD EW capabilities.
Lt. Col. Ricky B. Johnson (ret.) is a Cubic EA-6B ICAP III instructor at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, who trained EA-6B aircrew for more than 19 years. He spent 23 years in the Marine Corps, with nearly half of that time spent with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2, commanding the squadron from July 1993 to June 1995. He also spent six years as an electronic-warfare officer on four Marine headquarters staffs.