2017-12-28 By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake
The shift from engaging in the land wars and the con-ops associated with those land wars to preparing for higher tempo and higher intensity operations are key to the transformation of U.S. and allied forces.
The challenge facing the liberal democracies was well put in a recent presentation by a senior Finnish defense official: “The timeline for early warning is shorter; the threshold for the use of force is lower.”
Shaping a deterrence in depth strategy which address and then mitigate any threats posed by adversaries in their attempt to build anti-access and area denial capabilities is at the heart of this effort.
The US Army provides a key combat enabler with air defense artillery now engaged in global military operations.
ADA plays an increasingly significant role within joint and coalition forces shaping the US 21st Century offensive-defensive enterprise way of war.
Modern ADA has seen the growing importance of Patriot and THAAD within the joint force, but for the reshaping of the Army’s ground maneuver force, ADA must be built more broadly into its transformation going forward.
Recently, we had a chance to talk with one of the US Army’s leading ADA architects, Brigadier General Randall McIntire.
The General is the Commandant of the ADA School based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and in this capacity both trains for the current fight and prepares for success in combat within the future evolution of the US Army, joint services and allied forces as well.
As the US Army prepares its future with the return to a priority on high tempo and high intensity operations, ADA plays a key role, not just as a capability, but a leaven for change as well.
We started the conversation by focusing on how the current Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley, looked at the key modernization priorities in the way ahead as well as the key role of ADA in contributing to and shaping the future Army.
BG McIntire: “The Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army has highlighted a number of key priorities for Army modernization.
“The first priority is to fix long-range strike.
“Second, we need the next generation combat vehicle and one which enables the offensive-defensive approach to Large Scale Combat Operations.
“Third, we need a new vertical lift capability. We need a much higher speed helicopter capability and one that can operate effectively in the 21st century multi-domain maneuver space.
“Fourth, we need to have a better open architecture network. We need to work on our C2 and we need a transformation of our mission command system.
“But without effective defense in the maneuver force, you’re not going to be able to survive. Air Defense is a key enabler for the maneuver force.
“Survivability of the maneuver force requires an organic air missile defense as well as extended defense for the integrated battlefield.
“It is not an afterthought; it is a core requirement of mission success.”
BG McInture emphasized that integrated fires are the key to breaking up adversary efforts to shape anti-access and area denial of operational areas.
At Fort Sill, both offensive fires and defensive fires are co-located. The situation created by the BRAC in the mid-2000s of co-location of offense and defense has provided a foundation for working the kind of integration crucial to develop offensive and defensive integrated fires.
Put another way, a template has been put together – integrating offensive and defensive fires – which lays down the foundation for incorporating the technologies which are entering the force.
But it is clear that is not just about technology.
“Technology is important.
“But we are constantly evolving the organization structures which incorporates the new technologies and looks forward to developing new ways to extend our battle space and increase our ability to sense, control fires and shoot.
“It is definitely a shift in our current culture to ensure that we have the right kind of approach to defense integrated into the maneuver force. We are back to the Future!”
BG McIntire provided an analogy to explain how the two sides of Army fires were working together.
“The way I look at the situation is similar to two boxers sparring and working together to defeat the adversary. One boxer is throwing the offensive punches; the second boxer is providing for the defense of the force. The two boxers working together provide for the striking defense force to defeat the adversary, thus allowing the maneuver force the ability to get into the close fight.”
BG McIntire highlighted the fact that at Fort Sill they were both training for the current fight and preparing for the future fight.
The simulation and training facilities at Fort Sill provide core competencies for the current fight.
As those simulators are folded into live virtual constructive training, they are also available for shaping preparation for the future fight.
A key missing part of defense in the Army is short-range air defense (SHORAD).
Here he sees the need for the new combat vehicle to be enabled to provide defense as part of the organic maneuver force. The new combat vehicle can incorporate the evolving range of technologies to deliver defensive capability to the battlefield and must be able to keep up the maneuver force.
We discussed the addition of directed energy as part of the maneuver force.
He saw directed energy and the sharing of technologies amongst services in the directed energy area as a key element moving forward. Directed energy will not completely replace other elements in the defense toolbox, but provide new complementary tools.
The new generation of ADA warriors are comfortable working in the integrated battle space, with other services and allies as well.
In fact, ADA can provide key strategic deterrence, as well as reassurance for our partners and allies, without needing a heavy “boots on the ground” force. Air Defense is a key enabler for “setting the theater” for all levels and phases of military operations.
It is important however to understand that ADA forces on the ground in an allied situation must be integrated with the air and naval power of the United States to provide for the kind of protection which land warriors on the ground deserve.
It is also the case that ADA is becoming a key part of multi-domain warfare, which is the cutting edge way of looking at where the US and allied forces need to go to reverse engineer the threat.
Rear Adm. Nils Wang, former head of the Danish Navy and now head of the Danish Royal Military Academy recently introduced the reverse engineering approach to deal with anti-access and area denial.
Wang clearly argued that the Russian challenge has little to do with the Cold War Soviet-Warsaw Pact threat to the Nordics. The Soviet-Warsaw threat was one of invasion and occupation, and then using Nordic territory to fight U.S. and allied forces in the North Atlantic. In many ways, this would have been a repeat of how the Nazis seized Norway during a combined arms amphibious operation combined with a land force walk into Denmark.
In that scenario, the Danes and their allies were focused on sea denial through use of mines, with fast patrol boats providing protection for the minelayers.
Aircraft and submarines were part of a defense in depth strategy to deny the ability of the Soviets to occupy the region in time of a general war.
He contrasted this with the current situation in which the Russians are less focused on a general war, and more on building capabilities for a more limited objective, controlling the Baltic States. He highlighted the arms modernization of the Russian military focused on ground-based missile defense and land- and sea-based attack missiles, along with airpower, as the main means to shape a denial-in-depth strategy which would allow the Russians significant freedom of maneuver to achieve their objectives within their zone of strategic maneuver.
A core Russian asset is the Kalibr cruise missile, which can operate off of a variety of platforms. With a dense missile wolf pack, so to speak, the Russians provide a cover for their maneuver forces. They are focused on using land-based mobile missiles in the region as their key strike and defense asset. “The Russian defense plan in the Baltic is all about telling NATO, we can go into the Baltic countries if we decided to do so. And you will not be able to get in and get us out. That is basically the whole idea,” the admiral said.
Wang argued for a reverse engineering approach to the Russian threat. He saw this as combining several key elements: a combined anti-submarine (ASW), F-35 fleet, frigate- and land-based strike capabilities, including from Poland.
But to get where ADA needs to go and to achieve its full promise of providing core capabilities within an integrated offensive-defensive force, requires shifting acquisition approaches in some fundamental ways.
Most importantly, rather than buying whole systems, and being dependent on prime contractors for the complete integration of those systems, the US Army is looking towards a commodity approach.
What the U.S. Army is looking to do is be able to manage interactions among C2, sensors, and missiles and to plus whichever of these “commodities” needs to be plused up. It is also crucial for the US Army to be able to integrate the defense systems in the maneuver force as well as to focus on what is necessary for the evolving integrated battle space.
It is not simply about after-market integration; it is about building in integration from the ground up as new systems are added as well.
This means that sorting out integration of Patriot and THAAD is necessary for the current fight and for establishing a way ahead for future integration as well.
Rather than looking at a very broad network integrated across at battle space, it makes sense to look at discrete force packages integrated around the effects that they can create.
Clearly it is important that Patriot and THAAD can work together but also provide tools to be integrated with air and naval systems operating to support a particular force insertion mission as well.
By the U.S. Army focusing on its ability to integrate with the services C2 or missiles or sensors as the case needs to be, it will be in a position to shape integrated force packages to support the evolving needs of the integrated battle space.
In other words, one can look back at the last 20 years in which Patriot and THAAD have emerged as important systems and see these as foundations for moving forward to a more integrated approach going forward.
But it is important as well to understand the defense is not simply about force protection; is about enabling the maneuver force to reverse engineer the threats that are adversaries are posing to us and to our allies.
Brigadier General Randall McIntire
Brigadier General Randall McIntire is currently serving as the 41st Commandant of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School and as the Chief of Air Defense Artillery.
He entered the active Army in 1988 after graduating from Western Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science degree and receiving a commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.
He also holds a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University in Administration and Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
His military education includes: the Air Defense Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Armor Officer Advance Course, the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Naval War College.