A method and apparatus are operative to control the desired level of population inversion in a gain medium having an amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) spectrum which is characterized by distinct short- and long-wavelength regions. The control is realized by the apparatus configured to determine a relationship between the regions of the ASE spectrum represented by respective frequencies which are filtered by respective frequency discriminators. The apparatus includes a controller operative to process the filtered frequencies by determining a relationship between amplitudes of the respective filtered frequencies which represents a measured level of population inversion. Upon mismatch between the measured level and desired level of the population inversion, a control signal is coupled into a pulse generator or pump or both. In response, the pulse generator may output a pulse, or/and the pump may he completely shut down to lower the level of the measured inversion.