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EW 103: Tactical Battlefield Communications Electronic Warfare

EW 103: Tactical Battlefield Communications Electronic Warfare by David L. Adamy. Artech House, 2008, 370 pp.

One the best compliments a reviewer can bestow upon a book is, “I finished it smarter than when I started,” which is certainly the case with David L. Adamy’s EW 103: Tactical Battlefield Communications Electronic Warfare. To place my review in perspective, I began my career many years ago in the US Army as an enlisted electronic warfare (EW) specialist. Comparing what I learned in training to the information available in this book revealed gaps in my knowledge. For example, while in the classroom, I learned that communications signals experience propagation loss over water, but the training did not address the underlying Fresnel Zone concept (p. 134). I learned to build hasty antennas and intercept baseball games as a parlor trick during field exercises but had no exposure to the fundamental mathematical calculations necessary to determine high-frequency signal propagation (p. 143). After I completed this book, the old jamming-team squad leader in me both appreciated my newfound enlightenment and winced at what seemed in retrospect only a partial EW education. Given the depth of the material, however, former apprentice EW operators such as I were not likely the target audience. Instead, EW 103 appears geared towards professionals with a few years of experience under their belts.

Mr. Adamy, president of Adamy Engineering, has more than 40 years’ experience working in EW and teaches short courses on that subject at Australia’s Defence Systems Innovation Centre Training Institute. He is a regular contributor to Journal of Electronic Defense, published by the Association of Old Crows (EW 103 is based on a series of tutorials previously published in that journal). The book focuses on communications EW, excluding related radio frequency or radar concepts, which Mr. Adamy covers in his associated texts EW 101: A First Course in Electronic Warfare (Artech House, 2001) and EW 102: A Second Course in Electronic Warfare (Artech House, 2004), respectively.

The nine chapters span the full range of communication EW concepts, including communication signals types, antennas, receivers, direction finding, and communications jamming, each described in depth and clearly illustrated. One minor critique: the text does not include photographs of actual equipment. Security concerns probably limited access to photos (e.g., of receivers, interfaces, etc.), but synergizing descriptions, illustrations, and examples of “in the wild” materiel would have reinforced associated EW concepts.

While the book includes a card-stock slide rule and Microsoft Excel formulas on compact disc for quick calculations, Mr. Adamy does not skimp on explaining the underlying mathematics. Even though the decibel mathematics seem overwhelming on casual inspection, it is actually quite straightforward, given the author’s lucid instruction. My only other criticism is that the mathematical questions in appendix A (pp. 275–306) are followed immediately by their respective solutions—an arrangement that reduces the challenge of working through the problems. Still, the text provides more than enough substance for building new problem sets for a classroom environment.

Certainly, EW 103 is not a light read for a Sunday afternoon by the pool; rather, it is a comprehensive textbook and reference for serious EW operators. Indeed, it will likely seem intimidating to readers who have no foundational training in radar, radio, or other aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is not to say, however, that the book suffers from dense prose. The author treats each topic with clarity, avoids unnecessary jargon, succinctly defines the essential terminology, and even includes occasional self-deprecating humor. The overall feel of the writing lends the impression that Mr. Adamy is not simply cranking out rote technical information but providing personable, one-on-one instruction.

In sum, I assess EW 103 as a must-read for EW professionals, especially the journeyman EW practitioner. From a cross-service perspective, I would put this text in the hands of experienced EW noncommissioned officers, new warrant officers, and senior company-grade officers. Interested readers may also want to consider Mr. Adamy’s related EW 101 and EW 102 titles, mentioned above, to round out their EW libraries.

Maj James D. Fielder, PhD, USAF

Lackland AFB, Texas

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."

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