Integrating Global Missile Defense

By Dodgen, Larry J. | Army, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Integrating Global Missile Defense

Dodgen, Larry J., Army

"We have incoming missiles!" Would people be alarmed to hear this in Kuwait or South Korea? How about on'television or radio in any hometown in the United States?

Diverse missile threats exist around the globe, some designed for short-range flight, up to 1,000 kilometers, some designed for intercontinental distances, more than 5,500 kilometers, and others in the medium and intermediate distances in between. They travel fast, can carry weapons of mass destruction and require a quick response to engage. Traditional missiles are ballistic, boosted initially by rockets, then free-falling onto their targets. Missiles that are more sophisticated may be aerodynamic, changing course during flight by means of fins or thrusters, such as cruise missiles. Sudden destruction of the target at great range is the grave consequence of a successful missile attack.

The United States seeks to ensure the safety of its citizens, friends and allies, dissuade and deter hostile actions by adversaries and defeat attacks on U.S. territory or against its military forces and the military forces of its friends and allies. To further these ends, the U.S. military is developing and employing interceptor systems capable of detecting and destroying the complex array of missile threats, at all ranges and in all phases of flight. The result is an extended network of defensive sensors, shooters, battle managers and intelligence assets, which must be carefully integrated for best effect.

For short- and medium-range ballistic threats, U.S. forces have successfully employed the Patriot missile defense system since 1990-1991 with Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Ship-based Aegis interceptors are now joining the force in addition to capability improvements in sensors and interceptors.

To deter longer range missile attack, the U.S. Cold War strategic triad was based on offensive capabilities. The certainty of retaliation by submarines, bombers and missiles was a key military deterrent. Today's new strategic triad to deter attack, as well as provide defensive capabilities, includes offense, defense and resilient supporting infrastructure. The U.S. missile defense system is a key element within this new strategic triad. The ground-based midcourse defense system was installed last year as the initial phase of the ballistic missile defense system (BMDS).

The U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) has overall responsibility to plan, coordinate and integrate all aspects of missile defense. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) applies technical expertise to develop new capabilities. Regional commanders execute missile defense in the short timelines available to protect U.S. territory, U.S. forces, friends and allies. If planning is weak, there is little time to adjust once threats are launched.

To address the complex and vital global challenge of coordinating missile defense, the commander, USSTRATCOM, has established the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD), whose mission is to integrate and globally synchronize missile defense systems and operations to provide an optimized, layered missile defense against all ranges and in all phases of flight. The commander, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, also serves as the commander of the JFCC IMD.

Key functions in integrating missile defense include:

* Synchronizing the capabilities and actions of regional commanders dispersed across long distances.

* Managing and controlling the simultaneous conduct of missile detections and engagements across the globe.

* Monitoring the global threat and guiding development and acquisition to efficiently offset emerging threats.

* Achieving such defensive and offensive overmatch that potential adversaries are dissuaded from building, and deterred from using, offensive missiles.

Well-coordinated plans are central to synchronizing actions of dispersed commanders. …

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