NEWS | June 8, 2020

SA-EMD participants meet to discuss progress, 5G implementation

By Lori A. Bultman 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The San Antonio-Electromagnetic Defense collaborative, in conjunction with the Joint Base San Antonio-Electromagnetic Defense Initiative, held their spring quarterly meeting June 3 with a mixture of in-person and virtual participants at the University of Texas-San Antonio National Security Collaboration Center, or NSCC.

The meeting was hosted by Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman, commander, 502d Air Base Wing and JBSA. It was the last EDI she will attend as commander as she relinquishes command to Brig. Gen. Caroline Miller on June 12. 

In her remarks, Lenderman recognized the outstanding leadership within the group over the last, nearly two, years.

“You have been true leaders in the field, and it is about to pay off,” she said, opening the meeting for more than 190 in-person and virtual attendees. 

Dr. Taylor Eighmy, UTSA president, and Guy Walsh, NSCC executive director, welcomed attendees to the UTSA facility and were followed by the keynote speaker, Jim Platt, chief of Position, Navigation and Timing and Department of Homeland Security lead for Electromagnetic Pulse. 

Platt began his presentation with background information on the Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses, which is the foundation upon which the SA-EMD was founded. 

“That order recognized that this effort required cooperation between all levels of government and, more importantly, the private sector,” he said. “Why do I say, more importantly, the private sector? It’s because 85 percent of the critical infrastructure in the United States is owned and operated by the private sector.

“There are a lot of things that the federal government can do, but we cannot prepare for electromagnetic pulse defense if we don’t involve the private sector,” Pratt said, thanking those in attendance for their willingness to step up and become active participants in securing the homeland.

Platt then discussed the DHS strategy for electromagnetic defense, the importance of improving risk awareness of electromagnetic threats and hazards; enhancing capabilities to protect critical infrastructure; and promoting effective electromagnetic-incident response and recovery, all of which require a group effort. 

“We think these goals are perfectly aligned with what is taking place in San Antonio,” he said. “Just the sheer number of participants in this call, and the numerous briefings that the JBSA team has done throughout the country to raise awareness of this is really helping with that goal of bringing awareness to the electromagnetic threat.”

Following Platt’s presentation, several mission partners and steering committees provided updates, including a 5G presentation on their vision, mission and goals. 

The development of 5G capabilities is critical for the country, and the Department of Defense is fully engaged, in partnership with industry, in large-scale testing and experimentation to quickly develop 5G technology in accordance with the DOD 5G Strategy, which can be found at https://www.cto.mil/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DoD_5G_Strategy_May_2020.pdf.

Part of the strategy includes 5G testing at stateside military installations, seven of which were announced the afternoon following the meeting. That list included JBSA.

“The addition of 5G capabilities at JBSA will have a critical mission impact and will help ensure the U.S. maintains military and economic advantages,” Lenderman said following the announcement. “This would not have happened without the dedication of the military and civilian representatives participating in the San Antonio-Electromagnetic Defense Initiative. 

“This makes 12 installations where DOD is partnering with industry to create leap-ahead technology that will underpin U.S. military and economic leadership, and the future digital economy,” she said, emphasizing that the large-scale experimentation and prototyping of 5G will be dual-use, military and commercial. 

A fifth-generation of cellular network technology will increase connectivity of everything and everyone everywhere – through wireless communications, offering higher speeds, quicker response times, and handling many more wireless devices. 

As the meeting came to a close, Col. Michael "Apollo" Lovell, JBSA-EDI executive director, thanked participants, volunteers, and the City of San Antonio for their support.

“Today was a success and we genuinely appreciate everyone’s support,” Lovell said. “The support for Joint Base San Antonio from government, academia, research, industry, and the virtual partners who are with us today is tremendous. When we say ‘Military City USA,’ if you are not part of San Antonio, that might not really translate, but when you are here, you feel it.”

For more information on DOD’s 5G communications technology experimentation and testing sites, visit https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2206761/dod-names-seven-installations-as-sites-for-second-round-of-5g-technology-testin/.