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Riki Ellison, Rear Admiral (Ret) Tom Druggan, Lieutenant General (Ret) Neil Thurgood, Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery. "21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?" Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance Virtual Event (Dec. 16, 2022)

“Let’s start off with how serious this subject matter is. This morning, Russia fired 76 missiles into critical infrastructures in Ukraine. Most of them cruise missiles, most of them coming from their Tu-95 planes. 40 of them targeted the capitol, Kiev. This is their ninth wave of firing 70 plus missiles. Earlier this week on Monday, China flew 18 H-6 bombers into the Taiwan airspace. This falls of persistent harassment in that area where it’s highlighted on August 4th after Nancy Pelosi visited the island where they flew 69 planes. 49 of them into that Taiwan zone. Since August, North Korea has fired 51 missiles, most of those short range and below. Since February, Russia has fired over 5,000 missiles.”

“This is modern warfare. This is the 21st century way to fight. It’s defined by a couple things. It’s defined by persistent surveillance for almost everything can be seen and everything that is seen can be targeted and everything that’s targeted is done by precision weapons. The opponent is using long distances across all domains, air, land, and sea, to reduce its vulnerability to counter attack. We’re seeing this, and what I just earlier said on cruise missiles and ballistic missiles and some hypersonic missiles that are soon to come forward. We’re here today on what really is the implications of critical national infrastructure being pounded in Ukraine.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

“Let’s talk about long-range fires here for a second as we try to understand why this is new and different. Before, if you go back a while, it is really, when we think of ranges, the first kind of indirect fires would’ve been in New York City to Newark, New Jersey. Then it would’ve been New York City down to Philadelphia, 100 miles or whatnot. Then it would’ve been New York City down to Washington, DC. Those are the fires that we’ve been used to, those ranges.”

“Yet today, now it’s New York City to St. Louis, Dallas. So all of a sudden, there’s been this huge leap. That creates a war fighting challenge that’s now present. Certainly, our potential adversaries are working on them. They have tested their way to a capability and there’s no question about that. What that does is that means a couple things. On the ground warfare side, that now there’s no traditional front with these weapons that can not only do they have long range, you can use some of that range for maneuverability to come around behind forces. The front is now mutable. That changes how we need to fight on the ground warfare side.”

“And now from a tactical perspective, there’s no sanctuary for those implements of war in the tactical sense because now the sanctuary is back at the homeland. What that means is it takes time to get ammo and logistics and people and forces forward. That means that our expeditionary forces have to be more independent than ever. As we look at the long range fires, it’s going to take more than unit level tactics to defeat this kind of capability on the defensive side.”

“Having the capability to defend against cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, and ballistic missile threats will be important to the viability of Guam as a staging area in the future. If nothing else, you have to have the level of capacity there to at least buy time. The defense of Guam has, I think, personally a dual purpose. One is to deny any attack from North Korea, but the other is also to deter any Chinese Communist party activity against Guam. We raised the threshold to ensure that that happens. There’s a couple groups for you out of the gate.”

  • Rear Admiral (Ret.) Tom Druggan, “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

“The command and control structures that we have, that we’ve been fighting with as independent surfaces are no longer sufficient. We must change. We have to get beyond traditional parochial approaches if you want to be an integrated air and missile defense, meaning the ability to do offense and then defensive fires simultaneously on the battlefield. Because as you articulated, Riki, that is the future. It’s no longer a defense, it’s no longer an offense. There’s no longer a front line of troops, as Tom indicated. The battle space is everywhere.”

“Because of battle spaces everywhere, you need integrated offensive-defensive fire simultaneously. Tom mentioned third-party command and control. I’m going to expand that a little bit, Tom, and you can pile on if you choose to. It’s not just third-party within our services, it’s third-party with our ally or partner nations. We have got to adjust our policies and our processes, particularly in foreign military sales if we want to take advantage of the global strength, not just the US strength. I think anybody would tell you that the future fight is not a US-only fight. And we see that happening right now in real time in Eastern Europe, the global community contributing to that.”

“I tell you, our sailors, our soldiers, our Marines, our Space Force, our airmen, they are smart. They can adjust, they can adapt. We can get them equipment and they’ll show us how to use it better and faster than we ever thought possible. We’ve got to adjust the way we do business as we look at this nation state war. Then the last thing I’ll say and, Riki, I think you mentioned this, in modern warfare, if you believe that persistence overhead surveillance is there, if you could do that, you could target. If you can be seen, you can be targeted. If you can be targeted, you’re probably not going to get a second shot. That’s modern warfare.”

“The amount of destruction that’s going to happen in modern warfare nation state on nation state is what we saw in World War II. That’s where the future is, and we got to be prepared for that. We’ve got to work past our policy problems, we’ve got to work at integrated solutions. I got to build to call the Navy and go, “I need you to shoot this missile. You can’t see it yet, but it’s coming. Get ready.” And they got to be able to do the same thing for me. They got to be able to call the combatant commander or INDOPACOM has got to be able to call an Army unit, say, “Put a hypersonic weapon there. We need a target there. We need it right now.” Those are new things we haven’t done that we have to practice both procedure and policy to make happen.”

  • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Neil Thurgood, “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

“The reason it’s important is the number one driver of casualties in a major Asia-Pacific dust up, whether it’s over Taiwan or the East China Sea, is your ability to strike at range. The number of long-range strike weapons is in a seesaw. And the other side is the number of US or allied casualties. If we have a lot of long-range strike weapons, we’re going to have a low number of casualties. Most of the war games I’ve seen or have done unclassified, talking about 5,000 or 7,000 casualties. But if you have to close the adversary because you ran out of long-range strike, whether it was air, ground or naval, your casualty rate goes up to 20,000 to 25,000.”

“We look at our adversary and we go, ‘They’re China and Russia, they’re doing pretty good, but we’re catching up in the offense we might not even be ahead.’ That’s fantastic. The problem though when you’re dealing with a near peer adversary who’s an authoritarian regime that has first mover status is it’s not your offense that has to be as good as his offense. It’s your defense that has to be as good as his offense so that he doesn’t have the ability to strike you at will at the start of a crisis and take you out of the game.”

“To me, summing up three issues, one capacity overall, two, some capability in the ground-based cruise missile defense, eminently solvable. Lithuania has figured it out. I think the United States could figure it out. Then three, the capability issue on hypersonic defense. Look, I think we still have five or six years before this really hits us in the teeth, but we better be chugging along at that hypersonic defense so that we don’t create a condition where one side can do escalation management and the other can’t.”

“I just finished pouring through the NDAA and it is a tremendous bill. I mean, I don’t want to get into the whole Taiwan argument here, but I’ll just tell you, it’s the most significant legislation about Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. It will fundamentally change our ability to fight and win in the Pacific.”

  • Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery, “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

“We came up with some solutions that are real. You guys brought some good thoughts on allied participation, service participation on the C2, all the way down to the firing, to the systems that we have today and the future systems. And we’ve got Congress behind us. I mean, what Mark said with the NDAA, the money going into this, this is no longer an issue that nobody addresses that has been practically the last 20 years. We are now looking, our Congress and our funding is looking at capacity to build to take on the near peer, to take on the regional fight that we have to do.”

“It was great to reinforce the Navy’s greatness on this mission set. Anyway, to me, it’s about team play. I’m going to just go real quick to a football analogy. But if you look at the San Francisco 49ers, they’ve got the last pick in the draft being their quarterback, and they’ve been able to play at the top level of the game beating everybody with this guy because the team is so good around him.”

“And we’re going to have weak spots. We got weak spots. But our team and the way they play together, and I think we’ve all mentioned that, the jointly and allied way is the way to beat these guys. There’s ways to come up with a solution that works today while we can hold on in the future. I thought this discussion was great. And being able to open this thing up right on the fact of the congressional support for what we’re doing. It’s excellent to have you guys with us, it’s excellent to go on beyond just North Korea and Iran and the old school ways.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

Click here to view the round table discussion on “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.

Click here to read the full transcript on “21st Century Warfare: Long Distance Fires- Are We Ready to Defend Against it?”, December 16, 2022.


Lieutenant General (Ret.) Neil Thurgood
Former Director, Army Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition
Army Space and Missile Defense Command

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Tom Druggan
Former Program Executive. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense
Missile Defense Agency
Senior Associate, CSIS

Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark Montgomery
Former Director of Operations
U.S. Pacific Command

Mr. Riki Ellison
Chairman and Founder
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.