Electronic warfare

  • Last updated: 16 Nov. 2011 09:14

Electronic warfare (EW) capabilities are a key factor in the protection of military forces and in monitoring compliance with international agreements. They are essential for the full spectrum of operations and other tasks undertaken by the Alliance.

The purpose of EW is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to the electromagnetic spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land and space, and target communication and radar systems. It involves the use of the electromagnetic energy to provide improved understanding of the operational environment as well as to achieve specific effects on the modern battlefield.

The need for military forces to have unimpeded access to and use of the electromagnetic environment creates challenges and opportunities for EW in support of military operations.


The NATO Electronic Warfare Advisory Committee (NEWAC) is responsible for overseeing the development of NATO’s EW policy, doctrine, and command and control concepts as well as monitoring EW support to NATO operations. It also assists in introducing NATO’s EW concepts to partner countries within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme.

The NEWAC is composed of representatives of each NATO country and of the Strategic Commands. Members are senior officials in national electronic warfare organisations. The Chairman and the Secretary of the committee are permanently assigned to the International Military Staff at NATO Headquarters, Brussels. There are a number of subordinate groups dealing with electronic warfare database support, training and doctrine.


The NEWAC and is subgroups were introduced in 1966 to support the Military Committee, the NATO Strategic Commanders and the member countries in this sphere and to promote effective NATO EW capability. The NEWAC has met on an annual or semi-annual basis in plenary conferences, to bring together national subjecty matter experts in the field, since this time.

EW policy is covered under MC 0064, the NATO Policy for EW. This policy has been revised a total of 10 times in order to keep pace with changes in the electromagnetic and operational environment, the NATO Command Structure, and the threats facing the Alliance. This policy is agreed to by all Allies and provides the overarching guidance required to formulate common doctrine and interoperability standards.