2014-09-08 In a recent Air and Space Power Journal, William Bell has argued that the adversary missile developments have become a revolution in military affairs in their own right.
Certainly the last four years of US military service war games have shown strong indications that missiles not only have evolved into a game changer but also will present formidable challenges at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
The very existence of a game-changing RMA missile threat has altered many a US war-game-planning mission analysis and/or “decision calculus” in reference to such factors as whether to operate the US desired forces (who), in a contested area (where), and at a time during which their operations are most necessary (when).
In short, war-game results indicate an increased trend toward threat missile “risk avoidance” with that weapon’s ranges defining the boundary of some of our operations. It seems certain that many of our potential adversaries believe their missiles are game changers based on the number of resources dedicated to further development.
Clearly, the Russians, the Chinese and their client states hope that this state of affairs is a static one, or a long term game changer. But there is always the reactive enemy, in this case the US and its allies.
Reworking the relationship between missile defense and offensive strikes is a key game changer of its own. Most visibly has been the role of the Iron Dome and F-16s operating against threats in Gaza to the survival of Israel. And such an operational experience is part of shaping the offensive-defensive enterprise which is composed of more effective interlinking of defensive assets with strike assets in shaping an ability to deflect, deter and destroy adversary strike capabilities.
As Ed Timperlake noted with regard to Iron Dome:
The Honorable Mike Wynne 21st USAF Secretary expressed what is now known as The Wynne Doctrine—“If you are in a fair fight someone failed in planning.”
Many successful battlefield commanders in history practiced the Wynne Doctrine.
Israel certainly needs too because they can never afford to lose and knows it cold.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must be vigilant and prepared at all times. In doing so the IDF has invented and perfected one of the most powerful deterrence and warfighting capabilities on the 21st Century battlefield, their Iron Dome.
The Iron Dome is currently defending all under its protection and is proven to be very effective in stopping deadly rockets, mortar and artillery shells.
The current combat proof of concept has important consequences for many countries.
Once such a sensor/shooter system is linked to longer range Air Defense Artillery (ADA) kinetic interceptors such as the IDF Arrow 2 and 3 or if America learns how it works. the US Army can network US THAAD/Patriot batteries in our own version.
In addition to today’s lifesaving combat applications Israeli scientists and engineers can take justified pride that through their direct actions they will be responsible for mitigating threats by nasty deadly countries blustering with their rockets.
As the Iron Dome capability proliferates, the world will actually be a safer place because countries thinking of making a conventional missile attack will have a significant warfighting dilemma as the effectiveness of their weapons getting through will be in question.
North Korea especially along the DMZ, Iran against Israel and China against Japan and Taiwan come to mind as real world examples.
The South Koreans are talking with the Israelis about the Iron Dome and working towards the deployment of THAAD on their territory.
Not surprisingly, both the Russians and Chinese are working hard to put in play the concept that defending yourself in an escalatory action, notably forgetting the modernization of their strike forces which is causing in the words of Bell, an RMA based on the evolution of adversary missile forces.
Earlier this summer the Russians put forth strenuous objections to the deployment of THAAD.
Russia voiced concerns over THAAD deployment. While previously South Korean officials maintained that they want to provide protection from possible missile attacks domestically, on Wednesday South Korean acting Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said he would not object to Korea hosting the American system, as long as Seoul does not pay for it.
“We expect the leadership of the Republic of Korea to thoroughly weigh possible consequences of such a move, including for the security of their own country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry warned in a statement on Thursday.
“In fact there is a prospect of expansion of America’s global anti-missile defense system into South Korean soil. Such a development will inevitably impact the strategic situation in the region and may trigger an arms race in North Eastern Asia,” the ministry added.
And the PRC has been even more adamant and working hard to defeat the deployment of THAADS to South Korea. For example, in May 2014, the Chinese Foreign Ministry highlighted the “threat” to regional stability if THAAD were deployed.
China on Wednesday opposed deployment of a US missile defense system in the Republic of Korea (ROK), calling it “inconducive” to regional stability and strategic balance.
“China’s stance on the missile defense system has been consistent and clear,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a daily news briefing when asked to comment on reports that Washington had invited Seoul to join its missile defense system.
“We hope the US side will take into consideration reasonable concerns of countries in the region.”
According to reports, the ROK expressed interest in buying Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, designed to intercept ballistic missiles in midair.
China firmly safeguards the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, and is firmly committed to the denuclearization of the peninsula and peaceful settlement of relevant issues via dialogue and consultation, Qin said.
China will never ever allow chaos or war near its doorway, said Qin, urging all parties to take concerted efforts, take into consideration the whole situation on the peninsula, and stop doing anything that might escalate tensions.
And recently East Asia Intel noted:
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for South Korean President Park Geun-Hye to dismiss a U.S. request to deploy its advanced missile-defense system in South Korea, a diplomatic source here said.
During a summit in Seoul on July 3, Xi asked Park to be cautious in responding Washington’s move to install its missile defense system, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea, according to the source.
But given the progress in adversary missile systems and the hopes that adversaries have to make such progress permanent and an RMA game changer, the US and its Allies are hardly going to sit on their hands.
And here there are really only a couple of choices on offer.
The first would be to build a robust deep strike force, which can reduce Russian and Chinese missiles to ruble in an early pre-emptive, and recurring set of strikes.
Some version of this is necessary even to deal with shaping a response force. Such an approach could be built upon a battle exercised capability which some visionary AF fighter pilots have demonstrated:
The first sign of the coming U.S. air raid was when the enemy radar and air-defense missile sites began exploding.
The strikers were Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, flying unseen and faster than the speed of sound, 50,000 feet over the battlefield
The second would be to enhance the depth of the ability to defend by more effectively integrating defenses and combing those with relevant forward based sensors and strike forces to deflect and destroy strike assets directed against U.S. and allied forces to provide for either a pause or a concurrent deeper strike to attenuate the threat and its ongoing capabilities.
The unacceptable option, which is not how the US fights plans and trains, is to simply to accept Bell’s proposition regarding the state of play created by adversary missile and strike modernization.
Rather all US and alied forces in the Pacific are working hard to enhance integrated defenses.
The existence of Aegis with SM-3 and Patriot ADA IRBM kill chain capability along deployment of THAAD to the region is an important part of the work in progress.
Earlier this year we interviewed the Army commander at the tip of the spear in the missile defense innovation process.
As Lt. Col. Cochrane put it:
Missile defense is more than just one platform or system. It is a classic case of what you call no platform fights alone. It is a system of systems.
We combine Aegis, with THAAD with short-range defense systems, etc.
For example, at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, the 94th AAMDC and the 613 AOC coordinate air and missile defense fot the Pacific Theater. The Navy and the Air Force all come together and conduct that coordination in terms of how we protect and coordinate our defense so that we are maximizing our capabilities.
It is not just a single system standing alone or operating independently.
It is the inter-dependence and the inter-operability of all these systems to all three of the branches that are actively engaged in missile and air defense.
In my unit, we are looking aggressively at how to cross link with Aegis, for example.
I have been extremely fortunate that Brigadier General Garland, who is the commander of the 36th Wing here has emphasized: “Welcome to Guam. What do you need?”
He has put his wing and their resources at our disposal to execute our mission so when we first came in, we were welcomed with open arms by our Air Force brethren and we are now part of their family.
We interact with the wing commander and the wing vice-commander routinely, several times a week, talking about these missile defense issues.
Additionally, we are integrated into Wing exercises to practice coordinated actions before, during and after TBM engagements.
And we clearly do not want the Aegis and the THAAD firing against the same inbounds just because then we are wasting ammunition on two very capable missiles when they can be used elsewhere.
This is where the jointness of this whole process must come into play.
As we get to this “purple force” concept where all of us are working under a joint task force or a joint commander, it becomes extremely important that we actually do that cross coordination.
I believe that missile defense is only going to become more important as we continue to rebalance to the Pacific strategy that has been directed on us.
I think you are going to end up seeing more and more emphasis on the continued growth of our cooperative joint-ness between the Navy (Aegis ships), the Air Force (Defensive Counter Air) and the Army (Air and Missile Defense).
Later we interviewed the head of Army Air Defense Artillery in the Pacific who further explained the approach. In an interview with the Commanding General of the 94th AAMDC, BG Daniel Karbler, highlighted the modernization approach and its significance:
There are three ways to deal with an incoming missile defense.
There is passive defense, but there is only so much hardening and dispersal one can do without degrading your combat capability, and their many soft targets which cannot be hardened.
You can use air strikes to take out the adversary’s missile strike force, but you may not wish to do that right away or have not fully mobilized your capability.
The role of having active defense or an interceptor force is to buy time for [Lieutenant] General [Jan-Marc] Jouas (7th USAF Commander in the Pacific) or General [Hawk] Carlisle (the PACAF Commander) to more effectively determine how to use their airpower.
It also allows the National Command Authority to determine the most effective way ahead with an adversary willing to strike US or allied forces and territory with missiles.
And during that interview another participant in the meeting explained the role of THAAD in the evolution of capability.
In a theme echoed throughout my visit to PACOM, Navy Commander Steve DeMoss, the deputy for PACOM’s Space and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Division, underscored that:
The deployment of THAAD to Guam provides a significant capability all by itself and has been a force multiplier in the region.
It is defending U.S. territory, U.S. citizens, and strategic U.S. bases… it provides PACOM greater flexibility with Aegis ships and other PACOM forces that had previously served that mission.
The work we are doing on cross-linking Aegis with THAAD will allow us to think creatively about combining the mobile defense capability of Aegis with the land-based deployed capabilities of THAAD and Patriot.
The impact of THAAD and PATRIOT to free up the Aegis is a significant contribution to Air-Sea battle.
Given the evolving threats from North Korea to South Korea and the PRC throughout the Pacific as well as continuing Russian pressure as well, it is hardly surprising that the US and its allies are not standing idly by and letting their adversaries conducted a one-sided RMA.
In fact in an interview earlier this year with General “Hawk” Carlisle, PACAF and about to become the Air Combat Commander, the General underscored the way ahead:
The PACCOM Commander has put me in charge of how we are going to do integrated air and missile defense for the Pacific theater, which represents 52% of the world’s surface. This is clearly a major challenge and is clearly both a joint and coalition operation.
General Carlisle focused on the way ahead to achieve the overall integrated air and missile defense mission designed to achieve the objectives outlined by BG Karbler.
We are pursuing an approach that combines better integration of the sensors with the shooters with command and control.
Command and control are two words.
The way ahead is clearly a distributed force integrated through command and control whereby one develops distributed mission tactical orders (with well understood playbooks) reflecting the commander’s directions and then to have the ability to control the assets to ensure that the sensors and shooters accomplish their mission.
Shaping an integrated enterprise is not a futuristic mission for the integration of Patriots, Aegis and THAAD is already a work in progress, but General Carlisle sees the approach getting better over time as new systems come to the Pacific, including a fleet of allied and US F-35s.
We need to get better at attack operations to take out the shooter.
How do we do that better?
It is clear that an F-35 fleet coupled with the new long range strike systems will play a key role in that function.
We also need to shape game changers in terms of the missiles used to intercept missiles.
The current generation is expensive and we need to drive down the cost point for interceptors.
SM-6 is coming which is an important asset but DOD is working hard on ways to drive down the cost of future interceptors.
And we are working the passive defense piece of the puzzle as well including hardening, concealment, dispersal of assets, rapid runway repair and support for a fluid force operating in a distributed manner.
Editor’s Note: For an early Naval War College mindset that is also wedded to one sided RMA see:
For the video above:
12/23/2013: The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Army Soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC); U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.
Credit:Missile Defense Agency:10/24/12
According to an MDA press release:
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Army soldiers from the 94th and 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC); U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62); and airmen from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center successfully conducted the largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.
An integrated air and ballistic missile defense architecture used multiple sensors and missile defense systems to engage multiple targets at the same time. All targets were successfully launched and initial indications are that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system successfully intercepted its first Medium Range Ballistic target in history, and PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) near simultaneously destroyed a Short Range Ballistic Missile and a low flying cruise missile target over water.
The live-fire demonstration, conducted at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, Hickam AFB, and surrounding areas in the western Pacific, stressed the performance of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), THAAD, and PATRIOT weapon systems.
An Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile was airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. THAAD was operated by Soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC.
Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The PATRIOT system, manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor.
The USS FITZGERALD successfully engaged a low flying cruise missile over water.
The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a Short-Range Ballistic Missile. However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM.
FTI-01 was a combined developmental and operational test. Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from multiple Combatant Commands operated the systems and were provided a unique opportunity to refine operational doctrine and tactics. Program officials continue to assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.