Panelists Make Pitch for More Robust Integrated Air and Missile Defense

WASHINGTON — The growing capabilities of potential adversaries in the Indo-Pacific Command area has led the U.S. services to better integrate their air and missile defense systems, but more needs to be done in that effort and the available resources are not adequate to the threat, two Army officers with recent experience in the theater said Nov. 26.

“The requirements out there exceed the capacity we have,” Brig. Gen. Clement Coward, currently commander of 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command and a former Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (JIAMDO) director, told a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum.

From the view of the military commanders, “we don’t have what we need,” in theater air and missile defenses, he said.

While serving in the joint command, “I saw the same interest from a Marine leader as an Air Force leader” for integrated air and missile defenses, Coward said.

But Coward questioned if the services have the right procedures, the right framework to set the conditions for truly integrated air and missile defense.

Col. Sean Gainey, the current JIAMDO director and deputy director for force protection on the Joint Staff who previously led an Army air and missile defense command in the Indo-Pacific, said because of the capabilities shortage, “we had to prepare to fight with what we had.”

To do that, the services took capabilities like the Aegis ballistic missile defense systems and the TPY-2 radars on the Navy’s warships and synergized them with the Army’s Patriot and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, Gainey said.

But he asked how the services will get the joint “sensor-shooter interface” they need to synergize all the separate capabilities in the theater.

In a second panel, four retired officers, all of whom had served as directors or as the technical director at JIAMDO, noted the deep cuts in funding, staffing and authority that have hit the joint organization and argued that the military cannot get to truly integrated air and missile defenses without someone able to force the services to buy the systems and create commands that put the overall requirements ahead of their own priorities.

Retired Air Force Col. Richard Glitz, who served as JIAMDO technical director for nine years, cited the drop in annual funding from $100 million to $20 million while the missile threat to the U.S. homeland from Russia, China and North Korea has increased.

Retired Navy Rear Adm. Archer M. Macy Jr. emphasized the new threats from hypersonic weapons and electromagnetic effects, which reduce the time to respond from hours to minutes and seconds. Macy and others on the second panel said the nation needed an organization directly under the Joint Chiefs chairman or vice chairman who could force decisions on research and procurement to meet the greater threats, instead of what each service believes it needs.

“The only ones interested in SHORAD are the Army and Marines,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov, referring to short-range air defense systems the ground services are seeking. And the services also see the threat from cruise missiles differently, he added.

Gainey suggested the joint staff is “starting to touch the fringes of global force integration,” but may need to force the combatant commanders “to accept some tough risks” in allocation of resources across the threat.

Because any major conflict is likely to involve more than one of the regional combatant commands (CoComs), it will take the chairman to ensure “there are “no seams between the CoComs.”