Army Charts New Path For Air and Missile Defense.

Author:Lee, Connie
 
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To counter new and evolving weapons on the battlefield, the Army has created a new roadmap aimed at beefing up its air-and-missile defense force.

The document--released in March --outlines the service's vision for its systems and soldiers from now through 2028 to help prepare it for multi-domain operations. The last time the Army released such a blueprint was about four years ago, Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general of Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, told reporters.

"The operational environment has definitely changed and become more complex," he said. Additionally, there is "more of a great power competition," he noted at the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

In support of the 2018 national defense strategy, the Army must have air-and-missile defense forces that can counter advanced adversaries such as Russia and China, the roadmap said.

The operational tempo for these forces "will remain high, supporting current commitments while simultaneously developing capability to support multi-domain operations," it noted.

The changing battlefield is pitting the service against advanced weapons such as unmanned aerial systems and sophisticated ballistic missiles, Dickinson said. Additionally, hypersonic vehicles are "looming," he noted.

This means the Army will need to use a mix of coordinated capabilities to counter these threats, Dickinson said.

"How do you do that? You synergize it within the document so that you're addressing each one of those not only from a materiel standpoint, but from a training standpoint as well," he said.

Tom Karako, director of the missile defense project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview that combining these capabilities has been a "long time coming."

"We need to move away from having these capabilities in stovepipes--and segregated--to having robust and layered defenses against the full spectrum of threats," he said.

Russia is already using a variety of air-and-missile capabilities to fight in Ukraine, he said. It is "mixing and matching" unmanned aerial systems, cruise missiles and artillery, he noted, and the United States will need to adapt.

"There's no time to be beating around the bush," Karako said. "If we're going to adapt to great power competition, then we're going to have to pivot our active air-and-missile defenses away from just rogue states to the real threat."

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