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Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler Stresses Importance of Radio Frequency Allocation in Maintaining Security

Proposed legislation regarding the sharing of radio frequency spectrum space between government and industry could negatively impact U.S. national security, Navy Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler said in his keynote address Wednesday at GovCon Wire’s Military Services Intelligence: Plans and Priorities Forum.

Trussler, who concurrently serves as deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence, told the forum audience that every segment of the RF spectrum is allocated for use, and key portions of it are dedicated to the federal government. A large portion of this space is occupied by the Department of Defense.

If the legislation is passed, sections of the RF spectrum in which DOD systems reside may be made available for commercial use.

Though Trussler acknowledged that industry could greatly benefit from access to segments of the RF spectrum, forfeiting the portions reserved for DOD use could disrupt numerous defense systems and capabilities that operate on these radio frequencies.

During his keynote speech, the vice admiral shared that the Navy currently occupies some of the “sweet spots” in the RF spectrum that could potentially be at risk for industry sharing.

“We have spent decades and billions of dollars on missile defense systems, homeland defense systems, aviation management in the national airspace — the heart of our Navy’s ship weapons systems operate sometimes in the bands that are being considered,” said Trussler, emphasizing the many critical programs that may be affected. 

One of his concerns is the language that may be used in this legislation, which is currently up for consideration in the Senate. He said that instructing the defense community to “vacate” the RF bands they occupy would be “detrimental to national security” and could significantly threaten military readiness to defend the U.S. with systems that have been developed over decades.

A major issue with sharing radio frequency space, Trussler said, is potential disruption disputes between users, even if directed to share. If these spaces are reallocated, interference affecting one user’s operation would prompt the debate of who is able to claim that space.

Trussler has made sharing the implications of this legislation a priority in his role. He has taken time to speak with members of all the military services, the Joint Staff and the office of the Secretary of Defense, which are now coming together in making efforts to inform Congress of the potential harm to DOD operations if the legislation is passed.

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