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Spotlight Q&A with Steve ‘Tango’ Tourangeau

Steve “Tango” Tourangeau is the co-founder and Dean of the Reginald Victor Jones Institute (RVJI), an EMSO-focused non-profit organization that was established earlier this year by Tango and his wife Melinda, who is the Institute’s Executive Director. RVJI is a new resource within the EMSO community, and it has an important role to play in the growth of EMSO, which Tango discusses here.

JED: As longtime members of the EMSO community, what needs did you and Melinda see that made you decide to establish the RVJ Institute?
Tourangeau: The problem we saw was that for the past 30 years, we watched Congress and the DOD request EW/EMS studies. These studies invariably got assigned to a think tank or another organization that already had a contract vehicle, mostly to save time and not because the think tank or organization possessed the right expertise. These think tanks would typically have several subject priorities they were researching (such as Air Power and Cyber), and EW was rarely one of them. This meant the think tank didn’t maintain a staff of EW SMEs or possess prior studies from which to begin the research. They would move out to find the right experts and prior studies and conclusions, but this process took months. Furthermore, those searches usually weren’t successful. The tasked organization was left to make assumptions about what was done before with the limited expertise they had on staff, or just start from the beginning. If they were unexpectedly successful in obtaining prior studies, they would need to spend months digesting those conclusions.

By the time the actual study work began there was little time left to complete it. So, a report would be written that would barely answer the question. The report would then be put on a shelf or in a desk drawer (or a classified drawer) and forgotten. Then the cycle would start again the next time somebody requested another study.

We set up the Institute to adeptly shorten this reporting lifecycle and to establish the starting line from which future, responsible EW and EMSO conclusions would come. The Institute is capturing all the previously accomplished studies and knowledge specifically on EW and EMS. It is also recruiting a distinguished cadre of experts who are ready to begin advising on EW/EMSO studies. Finally, it is performing erudite research to answer the DOD’s most difficult EMSO questions. This puts the Institute in a position to finally advance the art and science of EMSO, something we believe no one else on the planet is doing.

JED: What are some of the initial roles that you want the RVJ Institute to perform, and what are some of your related near-term goals?
Tourangeau: Initially the Institute is on a campaign of awareness and education. Specifically, we’re excited about the request we received to provide Congress with a portal for unbiased information and education regarding the importance of the electromagnetic spectrum. In addition to this, we’re also excited to serve as a source of scholarly research to inform decision makers on one of modern warfare’s most challenging subjects: the EMS.

JED: Our community continually suffers the loss of knowledge when people who have a lifetime’s worth of EW and SIGINT expertise decide to retire and close out their EMSO careers. How do you see the RVJ Institute working to capture, retain and share that valuable knowledge?
Tourangeau: Great question, and actually one of the three pillars of the Institute is the Cadre of Experts, to preserve this exact precious expertise and knowledge. Our Cadre of Experts have a diverse amount of experience within the EMSO workforce, including scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, policy experts, acquisition professionals and operators. Maintaining strong ties to this wealth of experience enables the Institute to provide expert opinion, analysis and recommendations to EMSO-specific questions.

JED: How do you see RVJ Institute collaborating with other organizations in our community?
Tourangeau: Well, the RVJ Institute is already collaborating with the EMS enterprise and the community at large, and we expect for this to grow in the future. One particular collaboration that we’re especially excited about is the “Full Spectrum” initiative, which is focused on achieving increased emphasis on EMS-related courses of study and majors at our colleges and universities. Enhancing the future workforce with a greater appreciation and understanding for the electromagnetic spectrum is something that we’re very passionate about.

JED: In what ways do you hope to see the RVJ Institute grow over the long term?
Tourangeau: We’re excited to see the RVJ Institute continue to grow both nationally and internationally. Recently we’ve had some very good discussions with our friends in the UK, Australia, and Sweden, and we expect for that to only increase in the near future. Research and academics are an easy rally point for all who are friends with the United States, and offers a tremendous partnership opportunity to achieve shared understanding and interoperable (and dare I say, “collaborative”) capabilities for spectrum superiority.