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Planning Electronic Warfare San Antonio It was like most trade conventions, on the surface at least. The participants, almost all men, gathered in meeting rooms to talk shop while their wives went shopping or sightseeing. There were luncheons and dinners and guest speakers and tours and time set aside for golf, and really, the only thing that set this particular convention apart from any other was the subject at hand, which was not insurance or car dealerships or the latest in farm implements, but warfare. The third annual Association of Old Crows Western Region Technical Symposium on Electronic Warfare was held this year at San Antonio’s Lackland Air and the convention center downtown 11,000 military men, civilian defense employees, defense contractors indeed, anyone with even a passing interest in electronic warfare the Association of Old Crows is a prime, grass roots example of what used to be called, in another era, the “military-industrial complex.” Half the members are military officers or federal employees; the other half are in private industry. The Old Crows derive their name from a group of World War II radar men \(radar being the opening shot in the era as the “Ravens.” When the Ravens were decommissioned after the war, some of them got together and started calling themselves the Old Crows. Their association, formed in 1964, has done well enough to publish a bi-monthly glossy trade magazine, the Journal of Electronic Defense. The journal is dedicated to the latest developments in electronic methods of detecting enemy ships and aircraft or enabling friendly ships or aircraft to escape detection by the enemy in short, electronic warfare. The text is dull enough, prose only an electronics buff could love, but the advertisements are fascinating. They range from the mildly paranoid “Something’s out there,” says an HRB-Singer ad “What is it? What is it going to do?” to the simply strange. “Sorting out life or death threats while penetrating hostile skies at mach 1.8 isn’t all beer and skittles,” an ad for The writer, now a reporter in San Antonio, has published in American Heritage and a number of state and regional publications in Montana and the Northwest. `The Old Crows’ At Deadly Games In San Antonio Anaren digital frequency discriminators tells us. Presumably for social reasons, the Old Crows surround themselves with all the fraternal trappings common to associations named after animals Moose, Elks and so on. Local Old Crow chapters are called “roosts”; wives of Old Crows are called “Crowmates”; the association logo is a crow holding a lightning bolt, By Gordon Dillow while the symbol for the San Antonio meeting, held as it was during the city’s annual Fiesta Week madness, was the same crow wearing a sombrero and clasping a pair of maracas in its claws. ALL THIS might have been rather amusing but for the subject at hand. The more than a hundred Old Crows were dealt a battery of lectures on such esoterica as “Satellite Electromagnetic Vulnerability Analysis,” “Electro-Optics and Millimeter Wave Technique” “A Practical C3 and C3CM Training System for the 1MHz to 1000MHz Range,” which was open, although not even remotely comprehensible, to the public at large. Meanwhile, across the street at the Marriott Hotel, defense contractors such as Westinghouse and ITT exhibited a dazzling variety of electronic warfare gadgets for the edification of the crowd, apparently in the hope that if somewhere down the line an Old Crow needs an “integrated environment simulator” or an “advanced real time tracking system,” he will turn to them for help. Beech Aircraft Corp. brought a scale model of its MQM-107A, a short-range cruise missile capable of carrying photo-reconnaissance equipment, weather monitoring apparatus, and, last but certainly not least, “tactical” loads, presumably including those of the thermonuclear kind. General Electric’s exhibit was by far the most popular, however. GE featured the new “IR Threat Warning Technique” billed with the phrase, “When it says there’s a missile, there’s a missile!” and the real attraction, a video screen aircraft attack simulator, in effect a glorified version of the “Space Invaders” electronic game one can find in almost any bar. “Fly A Mission with GE!” the sign read, and dozens of Old Crows lined up to do it, guiding their simulated aircraft through the simulated surface-to-air missile sites, evading simulated enemy missiles with their simulated radar jammers and, if they were lucky, atomizing their simulated targets and presumably the simulated humans inside them with their own missiles. It looked like great fun, but was vaguely unsettling to see an Air Force colonel laughing and whooping it up as, complete with recorded explosion sounds, he knocked out a SAM site. But that, one must suppose, is what electronic warfare is all about: No muss, no fuss, just blips on a screen. IT WASN’T SURPRISING that the assembled Old Crows = not to mention the defense contractors peddling their wares were in a decidedly upbeat mood. After years of what most Old Crows see as an almost criminal neglect of defense \(particularly electronic deelectronic warfare industry sees boom times coming with the new crew in the White House. Such planned technologies as that for the “Stealth” bomber which reportedly would enable an aircraft to arrive at enemy targets undetected by current early-warning systems are dear to the hearts of the electronic warfare boys. Nor is there any confusion, among Old Crows at least, about whom electronic warfare will be used against. Electronic warfare does have its applications for wars of the Vietnam or El Salvador variety. infantry partisans may take heart, if they wish, from one Old Crow’s statement that “We’ll always have to have someone to slog through the mud. But the primary application of electronic warfare would almost certainly be against the Soviet Union. “The Soviets are extremely wellorganized in electronic warfare,” Edwin L. Bronaugh, a 50-ish former Air Force officer and now a countermeasures specialist with Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio, said during a break. Fortunately, Bronaugh added, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3