Just One More Thing on the List!
Available expertise and the existence of service Spectrum and E3 related organizations notwithstanding, it is widely known in the DoD Spectrum Management community that program offices, for a variety of reasons, including a lack of understanding of the requirements and their importance, frequently avoid spectrum supportability considerations early in program or take them on belatedly at the expense of cost, schedule and operational capability. The General Accounting Office has documented a variety of issues related to the implementation of spectrum management issues in DoD acquisition systems over the years.
So what are the obstacles that keep program offices and acquisition personnel from complying with federal laws and DoD directives on RF spectrum use and instituting good engineering practices on control of electromagnetic environmental effects (E3)? Volumes have been written on the need to comply with the spectrum regulations but the list of infractions continues as does the list of radio interference issues, both during acquisition and operationally. Current requirements and methods for assuring that systems have spectrum access and electromagnetic compatibility are scattered among a variety of DoD Directives, Instructions, MIL-STDs and Handbooks; and they can be poorly defined with approval processes that are hard to understand, slow, subjective and inconsistent. These volumes of requirements documents, which currently define the processes for obtaining spectrum access, acquiring authorized frequencies and controlling E3, have created complexities that can inhibit successful implementation by program managers. Some of the requirements are technically daunting on the surface, yet technical experts are available within every military department to help as necessary.
In addition to documenting the requirement for SSRAs, DoDI 4650.01 also provides a great deal of guidance, in the form of suggested tasks, for the program offices to follow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide a specific approach to integrating the tasks into an overall SSRA product. Subject matter experts from the three services have developed more detailed guidance and well as acceptable document format and content guidance. Some current suggested guidance for Program Offices, Acquisition Managers, and system developers to follow include:
(1) Determine the spectrum required to support the mission and define the intended EME in which the system will operate.
(2) Ensure E3 control and SS requirements are addressed in JCIDS and defense acquisition system documentation.
(3) Apply interface standards such as MIL-STD-461 and MIL-STD-464 to ensure that the system and its subsystems and equipment are built to operate compatibly in the mission EME.
(4) Define E3/SS test objectives in the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) and allocate sufficient resources to conduct test objectives.
(5) Verify and document SS and E3 control issues during developmental and operational test and evaluation.
(6) Conduct early E3 and SS operational assessments that consider the intended mission including single Service, Joint, and international deployments.
(7) Provide E3 assessments during operational test readiness reviews. Report the operational impact, system limitations, and vulnerabilities from unresolved E3 and SS problems.