Modern Warfare Week

Electronic Battle: Cold War Peer-Threat SIGINT Then and Now | Cold War Wednesday

As the man said, “Ivan will destroy your grid square if you even key your radio, let alone talk to your squad. Break out the books and practice. This is for real.”

Given recent events in and around Ukraine, we thought it might be interesting to consider the contrast of what modern technology – particularly social media – has to electronic-related security issues in contrast to what we were taught during the Cold War era. PERSEC, INFOSEC, OPSEC, ELINT, SIGINT, COMINT, and of course EMCON – there is absolutely no shortage of acronyms all those cell phones (among other things) might jeopardize…and with them, both missions and lives (see reported Redditor example, below).

Combat Electronic Warfare and Intelligence is one hell of a lot more complicated now than it was in the teen years of the Superbowl. Cyber Warfare and GPS Spoofing are just two examples. Geolocating is another. Even something as simple as a Google image search can precipitate an attack. Several examples of this have emerged over the last few weeks on both sides of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Compromised by TikTok” and “death by Reddit” sound funny until the Kalibrs and Bayraktars come calling. While apps like Air Alarm are certainly beneficial, they don’t counterbalance all the OSINT opportunities afforded by Telegram, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. This is why cell phones are often taken up before training evolutions and troop movements (unless, apparently, you’re Chechen).

But if you’re reading this, chances are you already know that.

What you might not know, depending on the length of your teeth, is what electronic warfare and signals doctrine looked like 40 or 50 years ago. And that’s why we’re sharing the following article.

Much like Crossfit workouts and pet shenanigans, you gotta take a pic of your invasion or it didn’t happen.

The Electronic Battle

Lt. Col. Don E. Gordon

INFANTRY Magazine, 1980

The Reddit Example

Even if this report is apocryphal, the lesson it delivers is not. 

Thoughts on then vs. now?

More SIGINT history

DRW

David Reeder is a sometime SOLSYS contributor and reporter-at-large. He is currently the editor of the GunMag Warehouse blog (The Mag Life) and the world’s okayest 1/6 scale kit-basher. 

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2 Responses to “Electronic Battle: Cold War Peer-Threat SIGINT Then and Now | Cold War Wednesday”

  1. AbnMedOps says:

    Excellent selection of very clear and readable “then and now” information, valuable context stuff.

  2. SoonerShooter says:

    Very interesting, thanks !