Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Missile Defense Attack Operations. (Cover Story)

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Missile Defense Attack Operations. (Cover Story)

Article excerpt

Joint doctrine maintains that theater missile defense (TMD) is a joint mission, but in fact it is just another common mission pursued separately by the services. Joint Pub 301.5, Doctrine for Joint Theater Missile Defense, often invokes the term integrate. Although the services are making progress in vertical integration on all levels, little has been done to harmonize efforts horizontally. Service agencies responsible for TMD illustrate this divergence. Some numbered air forces have cells dedicated to attack, passive defense, and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence operations, while the Navy contributes to attack operations with its air assets and could conduct active defense with Aegis systems. The Army operational lead for TMD is [32.sup.d] Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), which executes elements: attack operations, active defense, passive defense, and command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence. In sum the services have formidable capabilities, but they usually work in spite of each other rather than with each other. There is a better alternative. Recent efforts to improve attack operations in Korea reveal the problems and potential for enhancing theater missile defense operations.

Forward Missile Fight

In support of the offensive counterair mission, attack operations prevent launch of theater missiles by destroying every element of the system, including launch platforms; reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition platforms; command and control nodes; and missile stocks and infrastructure. Attack operations strive to deny or disrupt enemy assets. As the Army proponent, [32.sup.d] AAMDC responds to the Army component or joint force land component commander (JFLCC) and thus is constrained to this architecture in conducting attack operations. Restrictions require any target identified for attack by the AAMDC intelligence and attack operations cell to be nominated to the Army component deep operations coordination cell for prosecution. Targets can be categorized into two broad groups based on their relative mobility and targetability by assets assigned by the air tasking order, as either preplanned or immediate targets.

Preplanned targets are engaged by the assets requested through the normal air tasking order development cycle. They are submitted to the deep operations coordination section and compete with other Army target nominations for air/surface delivered attack resources. Preplanned targets can involve lengthy dwell times, theater missile production and storage facilities, garrisons, stationary forward operating bases or forward support elements, communications nodes, and countermobility targets (such as bridges and chokepoints). If approved and given a high enough priority by deep operations coordination cell fire planners, TMD targets are included in the Army candidate target list. This list is passed to the Army component battlefield coordination detachment (BCD) at the joint air operations center (JAOC) for coordination and deconfliction. The detachment submits lists to the target development section and master air attack planning team within the combat plans division of JAOC, where nominations are combined with those from other components. Requests are prioritized to eventually produce the joint integrated prioritized target list, which is the basis for ultimately assigning aircraft and weapons.

Immediate targets are nominated for use inside the normal air tasking order planning cycle and must follow a similar request and approval process. Examples are mobile or perishable targets such as launch sites. When identified these targets are forwarded to the Army fire support element of the deep operations coordination cell, which will prioritize and process requests for immediate attack. If a request is approved according to valid guidance, the target is forwarded to BCD for airspace clearance and the attack unit for execution if possible within service capabilities. …

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