Small Wars Journal

What Might be the 2025 Equivalent of a 1980s CEWI Battalion?

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 4:08am

What Might be the 2025 Equivalent of a 1980s CEWI Battalion?

Tricia M. Clarke

“One of the most important duties Army professionals is to think clearly about the problem of future armed conflict.”

-- General David Perkins

The integration of intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) assets with maneuver formations is not new. “Although electronic warfare is perceived as a recent component of the modern battlefield, the interception, direction finding, and jamming capabilities of an army heavy division are a logical extension of the same capabilities which predate the World War I battlefield.”1 The Army realigned its tactical intelligence assets in the 1970s and 1980s to provide combat commanders with organic intelligence collection resources, in addition to, electronic warfare capabilities. It formed a series of new integrated combat electronic warfare and intelligence (CEWI) battalions to carry out functions performed by a variety of Military Intelligence and former Army Security Agency units.2 Under the CEWI model, each combat division would have an organic military intelligence battalion that combined signals intelligence, electronic warfare and long-range reconnaissance elements, combined with ground sensor and surveillance radar capabilities. Separate maneuver brigades and armored cavalry regiments received organic CEWI assets. At the corps-level, CEWI brigades also fielded an operations battalion, an aerial exploitation battalion, as well as, an interrogation and exploitation battalion. These units were in place until the Army Modular Force reorganization of the early 2000s.3 In order to remain competitive, the U.S. Army must continue to investigate and employ new technologies, as well as, refine the use of existing technologies.

The emerging operational environment of 2025 will be significantly different, from the 1990s and early 2000s, as adversaries challenge U.S. ie long range precision fires, cyber, intelligence, etc. Russia, China, North Korea have activities that are both multi-modal and multi- domain that transcend traditional fire and maneuver capabilities. U.S. forces must anticipate contested domains across a vastly extended area of operations by enemies possessing systems that match or exceed existing U.S. ground combat capabilities. The focus of training and equipping the force of 2025 has to shift from defeating an asymmetrical threat to defeating these near-peer adversaries, as it did during the 1970s. According to Joseph Easterling, of the Marine Warfigting Lab and a research fellow at ARCIC, “Adversaries have studied the manner in which the United States’ military coordinates technical reconnaissance, satellite-based communications, and air and maritime power to enable ground freedom of maneuver and overmatch.”4 Highly advanced potential adversaries are developing methods to counter U.S. strengths in the air and maritime domain as well as degrading key capabilities by disrupting access to land, space, cyberspace, and most significantly in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS).

Adversaries will also use information warfare to influence U.S. decision makers and shape domestic and international sentiment. 5 The complex battlefield of the future requires us to review the strengths of our past, in order to, add capabilities to a military intelligence formation for the future that enables successful Soldier team performance and overmatch.

Most vital to giving Soldiers an advantage in a contested environment is developing new communication capabilities and fixing the systems that we already have. The MI battalion of 2025 must be structured to provide early warning against, or counter when necessary, peer and near-peer capabilities similar to the CEWI Battalion of the 1980s. Once given indications and warnings, the battalion must be able to communicate the threat to maneuver elements to improve situational awareness. Given the rapid advances in threat communications and jamming technology and recent successful use of ground and air electronic warfare (EW) capabilities by our adversaries that directly enable highly effective combined arms operations, the MI Battalion of 2025 must include an Electronic Warfare capability and multiple communications’ platforms to combat enemy EW. Based on near-peer threats, the MI battalion of 2025 needs electronic attack, as well as the protection, collection, and surveillance aspects of EW. All vehicles need an organic multi-mode sensor pod, linked and AI managed. The Battalion also must include an organic collection and jamming capability made up of a combination of track and wheel mounted intelligence collection and electronic warfare assets similar to the AN/TSQ-138 Trailblazer, AN/TRQ-32 Teammate, AN/TLQ-17A Trafficjam, and the AN/PRD-12 systems of the old CEWI Battalion. Collection front ends will be on all vehicles in the fight. Ground surveillance radar must be part of the planning of patrol bases if a patrol base is ‘cut off’ from Echelon Above Corps assets, in an electronic attack, they will still have an organic capability that passively detects and determines the direction of travel of intruding personnel and vehicles. AI will do all collection management.

Given the increasing focus or importance of the space and cyberspace domains, we must include both Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO) for protection and Offensive Cyber Operations (OCO). Cyber will be seamlessly integrated into the collection process through "purpose built" collection capabilities. Global and regional competitors as well as non-state actors invest in space and cyberspace capabilities to protect their access and disrupt or deny access to others. The use and management of information and communication technology can give the U.S. an advantage over an opponent.6 Use and management of this resource will give the U. S. the ability to operate smaller units semi-independently over longer distances and reduce the large footprint associated with traditional FOB type communications’ infrastructure. All collected data will reside in a cloud that can be accessed by any analyst and Commander. Soldier- led validation exercises must include multiple Tactical Operations Center (TOC) ‘jumps’ and movement over larger distances to assist in refining our network capability . The U. S. must have the ability to communicate at longer distances along contested lines of communication, in order to, give Commanders the ability to make decisions at the speed of battle.

In order to remain competitive, the U.S. Army must continue to investigate and employ new technologies, as well as, refine the use of existing technologies. The 1970-80 environment focused on a bifurcated world: Democratic West and Communist East. The 2025 environment anticipates the effects of globalization in addition to near-peer threats - it is a multi-polar world complicated with super-empowered individuals and non-state actors, hybrid capabilities, and hostilities below the threshold of war. Assets contained in the CEWI battalion of 2025 should include many of the same assets, in addition to, a more robust communications package. How do these CEWI units report and receive global (or national level) intelligence that may influence operations at division or below? They need multiple communication platforms and the EW capabilities of the 80s. The complex battlefield of the future requires us to bring forward the strengths of our past and build a military intelligence formation for the future that enables successful unified land operations. Vital to this change is the ability to communicate over longer distances in more domains. The MI battalion of 2025 must be organized and equipped to provide early warning against, or counter when necessary, to defeat peer and near-peer capabilities.

End Notes

1. Shirah, Henry C. and Johnson, Douglas V. (1995). Operational aspects of Desert Shield and Desert storm: An individual study project. Retrieved from

2. Quinn, Ruth (2014). 522nd MI (CEWI) Battalion passes tactical intelligence test. April 7, 1977. Retrieved from  CEWI  Battalion_passes_tactical_intelligence_test  April_7   1977/

3. Shirah, Ibid.

4. Easterling, Joel (2016). Multi-Domain White Paper-Marine Corps Battle Lab. Retrieved from <> 5 Gen. David G. Perkins (2014). The U.S. Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World 2020-2040. Retrieved from

5. Duclos, Susan(2015). Has Russia Just Changed The Future Of Warfare Completely, And Rendered US High-Tech Weapons Systems Inoperable?  Retrieved from

6. Easterling, Ibid.

About the Author(s)

Major Tricia Clarke hails from Kingston, Jamaica. She graduated from the University of Miami in 1994 and 1998, with a BA in History and English (minor in Chemistry) and a MS in Psychology. MAJ Clarke taught at the high school and community college-level for several years. She was commissioned as a Military Intelligence officer in September of 2005. MAJ Clarke is currently enrolled in an Information Technology Management graduate program with Webster University.  Her most current information papers focused on unmanned aircraft systems operators’ readiness, ‘efficacy’ of Company Intelligence Support Teams, and the Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence Battalion of 2025.