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Electronic warfare (EW) is

any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack an enemy.”[1]
[m]ilitary action to exploit the electromagnetic spectrum encompassing: the search for, interception and identification of electromagnetic emissions, the employment of electromagnetic energy, including directed energy, to reduce or prevent hostile use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and actions to ensure its effective use by friendly forces.[2]


Electronic warfare is a well-established component of contemporary combat not necessarily involved with cyberspace.

The purpose of EW is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land and space, and target communication and radar systems. It involves the use of the electromagnetic energy to provide improved understanding of the operational environment as well as to achieve specific effects on the modern battlefield.[3]

The three major subdivisions within electronic warfare are:


All three contribute to both offensive and defensive information operations. EW is any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy.

  • EA involves actions taken to attack the adversary with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying adversary combat capability to prevent or reduce an adversary’s effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum. EA should be employed to attack the enemy according to established principles of warfare. The decision to employ EA should be based not only on overall joint campaign or operation objectives, but also on the risks of possible adversary responses and other potential effects on the campaign or operation.

EP and ES routinely are conducted during peacetime as well as during periods of crisis or conflict.

The Joint Force Commander (JFC) should ensure maximum coordination among EW and other information operations intelligence and communications support activities for maximum effect and to reduce electronic fratricide. This coordination is necessary to ensure effective exchange of information, eliminate undesirable duplication of effort, and provide mutual support.[5]


  1. Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, MOP 6.
  2. NATO Standardization Agency, NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions 2-E-2 (2008) (full-text).
  3. NATO, "Electronic warfare" (full-text).
  4. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Pub. 1–02: DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Apr. 2010) (full-text).
  5. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Doctrine for Information Operations (Joint Pub. 3-13), at II-5 (Oct. 9, 1998) (full-text).

See also[]