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Today celebrates the month where we first had our first modern combat interceptor missile defense, and that was back in January 18th in 1991 in the AOR of CENTCOM in Saudi Arabia, protecting a US base and the first use of Patriot in combat. That was 30 years ago. And Patriot and air missile defense in CENTCOM have stayed there for 30 years. We’ve seen the evolution of every type of missile threat, rocket threat, mortar threat thrown at our forward operating bases and against our allies in that region.

We have done some remarkable movements here in development. We’ve created the C-RAM out of this. THAAD came forward with this. The sense and warning that’s so important that’s come out of this, the 360 missile defense capabilities, the breakdown of the ADA battalion into a battery, into an ICC placement around to distribute. This has been the place to develop and integrate and deploy defensive capability. And this defensive capability has been remarkable. We look at Ukraine, but we look at CENTCOM and the thousands and thousands and thousands of missile strikes, mortar strikes, rocket strikes that we have defended against and shot down. But more importantly, the sense of warning of being able to protect thousands and thousands and thousands of our allies in our foreign operating bases. So, today also is one year ago today, we had our first combat interceptor, the THAAD Interceptor system, along with the Patriots that protected UAE and Abu Dhabi. So, that’s something to honor as well.

Mr. Riki Ellison, Virtual Roundtable: “Combat Proven Integrated Air and Missile Defense – CENTCOM”, January, 17, 2023

To give a brief overview from the combatant command level on how we look at IMD, I think we should start with our Commander General Eric Kurilla’s priorities. Number one is to deterring Iran, two is to counter violent extremist organizations, and three is to manage strategic competition. And there is a lot of strategic competition in our AOR with Russia, China, and of course Iran there. But more tied to what we’re going to talk about today is he has two functional priorities. One is integrated error and missile defense, and the other is counter UAS. And we see those as almost blended as counter UAS as a subset of IMD.

And then, his last focus on the priorities is they have to be nested through partnership. And then, he has a strategic approach. And his strategic approach is people, partners, and innovation. And so, if you take deterring Iran, countering the VEOs, Integrated Air Missile Defense counter UAS, partnership and innovation, and lump them all together, you’ll see that it fits really well with what we’re talking about today. Because as you mentioned, we’ve had a lot of IMD capability in the theater, but the adversary’s advancing very quickly and we need to keep up through innovation, and we need to get our partners involved as you also mentioned. So I think that this discussion today really helps bring all of those facets together for us. What I focus on from my position in CENTCOM on behalf of General Kurilla is advocating for a layered, Integrated Air Missile Defense capability, from the upper tier all the way down to the counter small UAS with a quadcopter flying 50 to 100 feet off the ground at 10 or 20 miles an hour and everything in between.

Lieutenant General Gregory M. Guillot, Virtual Roundtable: “Combat Proven Integrated Air and Missile Defense – CENTCOM”, January, 17, 2023

I think the integration among the GCC, and I think it’s important to note the GCC is not a structure like NATO. There isn’t sort of that, an attack on one is an attack on all. Each country has their own individual relationships. To us the thing that makes sense is going back to that we take the data, we distribute the data and we really focus on that and not some of these interoperabilities. If we can get past the technical interoperability, that’s how we see this working is we have a common picture that can be provided by our CAOC and so it’s ingesting by whomever wants to share the data and then agnostic of where the data came from, we’ll scrub the data in whatever way it needs to be and then share that with the other countries.

Fortunately enough, I was able to do my annual visit into the CENTCOM AOR, specifically in OSS and OIR as I look at how can we at HQDA and the joint team support the COCOM with my three areas of focus: first being development of joint capabilities for our group one through three UASs, developing joint training and joint doctrine. And I think all those efforts we are working on moving forward has seen tremendous amounts of success. But we know we got a lot of work to do and I’ll highlight some of that as I move forward.

You heard General Guillot talk a little bit about the single pane of glass and I would tell you from a perspective of counter UAS in the integrated air missile defense fight, to me that is… When I first took over this job, the first thing I said is, “Hey, we want a C2 system that’s a common joint system that everybody rallies around and leverages against this fight,” because you can bring in different pieces of technology, but if it doesn’t integrate into that common C2 system, it may not be a better posture because you’re not synchronizing that air pitcher together.

Major General Sean A. Gainey, Virtual Roundtable: “Combat Proven Integrated Air and Missile Defense – CENTCOM”, January, 17, 2023

The other thing that General Gainey touched on is it’s not just about the kinetic aspects of this. The ability to use passive defense systems, non-kinetic engagements will give us, again, more fires to apply to the problem. So there’s no homogenous threat out there. It really goes from the exoatmospheric all the way down to just over the horizon with low end threats. And what is homogenous is all of that data is being sucked up into something. So if that data gets out, then we have this array of sensors and shooters that can be applied.

And if you get more sensors, then the secret sauce is those sensors are integrated into that system. If you get more shooters, they’re able to integrate in that system. And you mentioned the Aegis capability. The beauty of Aegis is, if you can get that fire control track or you can queue that Aegis, it can be in an optimal position. But with the right data coming from up in the air, an elevated sensor or a sensor that’s against an air-breathing threat or a sensor that is able to get a high data rate against that exoatmospheric threat, then Aegis becomes that more productive in terms of that depth of fire.

And that’s the same with the Patriot all the way down to these counter-UAS systems and some of the indigenous systems that are in the region. So we’re really looking forward to continuing the partnership not just with General Gainey and the Army, but really all of the services and all of our industry partners and all of our regional partners as we get into this era of innovation, data, and really using… not resting on our laurels, looking back 30 years ago when only we had this precision strike. Now we’ve got to have the capability to negate that and still employ our capabilities.

Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw, Virtual Roundtable: “Combat Proven Integrated Air and Missile Defense – CENTCOM”, January, 17, 2023

You’ve got the joint part really ahead of everybody and that bilateral relationship of trust now with all that capacity and resources already in your theater, in joining that together, including Israel, to be able to play at a level that is so layered and so good that there’s no way nothing can get through. That’s where we got to go. It’s close and it’s difficult, but you’re doing it because you’re proving it out at the three drone below. You’ve got to continue to get that one pane with all that sensor information from them so it doesn’t harness our resources and enables them to pay for their defensive capabilities and be able to work with us to do it.

And again, this is a model for Europe, this is a model for Indo-Pacific and it is challenging and that level of trust and leadership is huge for you and your team because that’s what this is about, bringing that team together and the diversity of that team, that they’ve got a common threat there. And I think you keep doing what you’re doing and applying those lessons that you’ve learned directly to Europe, to Ukraine to enable you to even be better or stronger and so forth.

Mr. Riki Ellison, Virtual Roundtable: “Combat Proven Integrated Air and Missile Defense – CENTCOM”, January, 17, 2023


Lieutenant General Gregory M. Guillot
Deputy Commander
U.S. Central Command

Major General Sean A . Gainey
Director, Joint C-UAS Office (JCO) and
Director, Fires in the G3/5/7, HQ Department of the Army

Rear Admiral Curt Renshaw
Director, J-3
United States Central Command

Mr. Riki Ellison
Chairman and Founder
Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Click here to watch the virtual roundtable on YouTube

Click here to view the virtual transcripts from the discussion

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.