Adversaries in Syria are attempting to use aggressive electronic warfare capabilities to disable AC-130 gunships, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command said at a conference last week.

Army Gen. Tony Thomas, commander of SOCOM, said at the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s GEOINT 2018 Symposium that the military is being tested daily by adversaries trying to use electronic warfare, or EW.

“Right now in Syria, we’re in the most aggressive EW environment on the planet, from our adversaries,” Thomas said, according to a video posted online. “They’re testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, et cetera.”

Thomas used that aside to illustrate the importance of technology such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in SOCOM’s operations.

Air Force Special Operations Command referred questions on electronic warfare operations against AC-130s to SOCOM.

Citing operational security reasons, SOCOM declined to provide specific information about the impact of electronic warfare on operations.

“As a general rule, we don’t discuss our operations,” SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw said in an email to Air Force Times.

“The subject of the part of Gen. Thomas’ presentation you are referring to was the capabilities USSOCOM needs to provide our operators to maximize their effectiveness,” McGraw added. “During the presentation, he pointed out factors the U.S. military has to deal with in today’s operating environment as illustrations.”

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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