2014-06-01 In our book published late last year entitled Rebuilding American Military Power in the Pacific: A 21st Century Strategy we highlighted how various innovations could come together to shape new approaches to deterrence in depth.
A key construct was that of shaping an attack defense enterprise.
The evolution of 21st century weapon technology is breaking down the barriers between offensive and defensive systems. Is missile defense about providing defense or is it about enabling global reach, for offense or defense? Likewise, the new 5th generation aircraft have been largely not understood because they are inherently multi-mission systems, which can be used for forward defense or forward offensive operations.
Indeed, an inherent characteristic of many new systems is that they are really about presence and putting a grid over an operational area, and therefore they can be used to support strike or defense within an integrated approach. In the 20th Century, surge was built upon the notion of signaling. One would put in a particular combat capability – a Carrier Battle Group, Amphibious Ready Group, or Air Expeditionary Wing – to put down your marker and to warn a potential adversary that you were there and ready to be taken seriously. If one needed to, additional forces would be sent in to escalate and build up force.
With the new multi-mission systems – 5th generation aircraft and Aegis for example – the key is presence and integration able to support strike or defense in a single operational presence capability. Now the adversary can not be certain that you are simply putting down a marker.
This is what former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne calls the attack and defense enterprise.
The strategic thrust of integrating modern systems is to create a grid that can operate in an area as a seamless whole, able to strike or defend simultaneously.
This is enabled by the evolution of C5ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), and it is why Wynne has underscored for more than a decade that fifth generation aircraft are not merely replacements for existing tactical systems but a whole new approach to integrating defense and offense.
When one can add the strike and defensive systems of other players, notably missiles and sensors aboard surface ships like Aegis, then one can create the reality of what Ed Timperlake, a former fighter pilot, has described as the F-35 being able to consider Aegis as his wingman.
By shaping a C5ISR system inextricably intertwined with platforms and assets, which can honeycomb an area of operation, an attack and defense enterprise can operate to deter aggressors and adversaries or to conduct successful military operations.
Inherent in such an enterprise is scalability and reach-back. By deploying the C5ISR honeycomb, the shooters in the enterprise can reach back to each other to enable the entire grid of operation, for either defense or offense.
A key development last year which added new capabilities to the strategy was the deployment of THAAD to Guam, and with the addition of Army ADA systems, Aegis could be relieved of its defense of Guam duties and allowed to play the multi-mission role for which it is so effective.
And it is clear that this deployment is opening up possibilities for greater innovation in Pacific defense.
The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., says a THAAD missile defense system maybe deployed to South Korea, and it maybe the system currently stationed on Guam.
Admiral Winnefeld told the American Forces Press Service [AFPS] Wednesday, that the U.S. has already conducted a site survey in South Korea in the event that they need to quickly deploy a THAAD system to the peninsula to counter threats from North Korea.
According to the AFPS posting, “the Admiral identified North Korea, followed by Iran, as the chief threats to the United States, given both countries’ nuclear and ballistic missile programs”.
The “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense” [THADD] system is capable of shooting down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles.
A THAAD battery was deployed to Guam last year in the wake of a series of threats from North Korea. The system remains in place at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo. Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has asked the Army to commit to keeping the THAAD battery here on Guam, permanently.
However, in a separate interview Tuesday of this week with the Washington Post, Admiral Winnefeld suggested that the THAAD battery currently on Guam maybe deployed to other locations in the region, if necessary.
“There [on Guam] it remains”, said Winnefeld, “readily deployable if necessary to somewhere else in the world if needed, but in the meantime defending U.S. soil from potential threats.”
Earlier this month a group of Guam Senators toured the THAAD battery location at Andersen.
In reaction, Congresswoman Bordallo issued the following statement:
“I continue to assert that the long term deployment of the THADD system on Guam is critical to national security in the region. I have raised the long term deployment of this defense system with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey and am confident that the location and future deployment of this unit will be prioritized based on the evaluation of all security threats to our nation and our allies.”
We have focused considerable attention on the Army ADA opportunities in the Pacific and an expanded role. For some of these stories, along with exlusive interviews with a number of key warriors in crafting the new approach see the following:
The photos below provide a look at the system.
Credit Photos: DOD or Lockheed Martin
- The first photo provides a sense of Guam in relationship to North Korea.
- The second and third photos show the TEL for the THAAD.
- The fourth photo shows the launcher at rest at sunset.
- Photos 5 through 7 show the THAAD being launched.
- The eighth photo shows U.S. Army Pacific commander Gen. Vincent Brooks takes a photo with the A4 THAAD during his visit to the unit at Andersen AFB, Guam on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013. The A4 THAAD deployed to Guam in April as a part of the 94th AAMDC Task Force Talon Mission.
- The ninth photo shows U.S. Army Pacific commander Gen. Vincent Brooks speaking with soldiers of the A4 THAAD about numerous personnel and operational issues during his visit to the unit at Andersen AFB, Guam, on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013.
- The final photo provides a graphic with regard to how THAAD works.