DHS Holds Counter-Jamming Exercise
Thursday, May 05, 2022 | Comments

From April 24 – 29, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) hosted JamX 22, an exercise to counter electronic jamming at White Sands Missile Range with federal, state, local and industry participants.

Building on the lessons learned from past JamX exercises in 2016 and 2017, S&T and CISA have partnered on research, technology developments and new training to increase federal and first responder resilience to signal jamming threats.

“S&T and CISA are working to give first responders and federal law enforcement the tools they need to defend against jamming,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, senior official performing the duties of the under secretary for science and technology. “We know that a critical element of protecting our homeland is securing our communities, including helping all levels of responders prepare to mitigate potential jamming incidents. JamX 22 is a critical step toward nationwide communications resilience, bringing together a diverse group of participants with unique operational experiences to inform future research, development and training.”

JamX 22 was organized in two parts:
• Operation Trinity: An operational exercise with federal and first responder operations and technical personnel that assessed the effectiveness of CISA’s pilot Resilient Communications Training. The exercise placed responders in jamming and other communications denial scenarios to assess their training and how effectively they completed their mission and reestablished communications.
• Project Resilience: An experiment with industry and federal partners that assessed tools and technologies to identify, locate, and mitigate spectrum interference, including illegal jamming signals, and measured the impact of interference on federal and public safety communications networks. The project tested DHS-developed tools and commercial technologies with carriers and communication providers.

“In a jamming environment, an emergency response or law enforcement mission may be compromised by the lack or unreliability of communications, and they may not realize there is a problem,” said Billy Bob Brown, Jr., executive assistant director for emergency communications at CISA. “Educating operators regarding jamming and ensuring they know what to do is essential to keeping responders and our communities safe. By training them in resilient communications best practices, we’ve immediately raised the bar of preparedness not just for them, but for the communities they protect and serve.”

Federal law prohibits the operation, manufacture, sale, marketing, importation, distribution or shipment of jamming equipment.

“Illegal jamming equipment still poses a threat to emergency communications, with potential to impact the safety and operational capabilities of emergency responders. Over the past six years, S&T has worked to help the emergency response community recognize, respond to, report, and resolve jamming incidents so they can be safer and better execute their mission,” said S&T Program Manager Sridhar Kowdley. “The Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering enabled vital communications during JamX 22 by providing cellular (4G/5G) systems for public safety to use and test against jamming signals. S&T is excited to explore this partnership for future resilient communications research.”

More than 200 participants were part of JamX 22, including first responders from Massachusetts, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Florida, New Mexico, Indiana, Kansas, Arizona, and California; federal agencies including the Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, and Sandia National Labs; and industry participants under cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) including Motorola, Anritsu/Ravenswood, CACI, Epiq Solutions, PCTEL, Rhode & Schwarz, SOC/Cell Antenna and SOC/LS Telcom, Syncopated Systems and TMC/Linquet.

Information shared during this exercise will enhance anti-jamming technologies and inform policy to ensure resilient requirements for first responders’ communications systems.

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