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Good morning, ladies, and gentlemen, from a spring sober day as we reflect on the anniversary of the invasion by Russia in Ukraine and the 300,000 casualties that have happened since and the destruction of their lifestyles and infrastructure. And the prayers and support go out to that.

Today we have a great opportunity to understand and be educated on enabling an effective, integrated missile defense architecture with our allies and partners. This can apply to other regions of the world, certainly CENTCOM, certainly INDOPACOM, but specifically in Europe with what we’re dealing with today.

I was just over in Europe earlier this month. We held our European Missile Defender of the Year on the 10th in Breda, Netherlands. We also had high-level discussions on this exact topic that we’re going to talk about today. We had several meetings with NATO and our armed forces in Germany.

What the basis of our discussion today is going to be with the intent to look at our policy, at NATO. And maybe reshaping that policy for the IMD threat that Russia has put on Ukraine and look at shifting a policy to enable a defense design that could be rapid, could be agile to defend NATO countries against the Russian threat that we are seeing in Ukraine.

Secondly, we would like to talk about the architecture and enabling specifically the sensors from all our NATO countries and not just one specific area of counter drones, cruise missile defense, or BMD or Hyper, and not have those siloed. Have them together and be able to have that architecture be able to pass effective tracks to the effectors.

And lastly, to talk about open architecture and how important that is to be able to include all 30 or the coalition of the willing to be able to enhance the air picture and capabilities to effectively defend and to deter an IMD threat on Europe from Russia.

We think there’s a great opportunity ahead of us. We know that the 30 NATO leaders will be in Lithuania, at the capital city there in the summer. And that is about the closest any NATO summit has been to an actual missile threat that’s been active during that time period. So, we believe there’s an opportunity here for both policies, and both architectures to be debated, discussed, and showcased around those 30 leaders in the summer against the threat that is outstanding there.

Mr. Riki Ellison, Ensuring Effective Integrated Missile Defense Architecture with our Allies and Partners Virtual Roundtable, February 24, 2023

And I would offer that same type of mentality is what we need to keep driving on as we go from not just the air defense from the air domain perspective but moving away from the basics of missile defense to integrated air and missile defense. And that’s an important step that NATO has to continue to move forward on and take these lessons and then apply them, operationalize them in a way that brings the nations even closer together to provide the capabilities that are clearly going to be necessary as we move forward.

In terms of who leads this, here was my take, Riki. When this thing kicked off, the US has a natural inclination to lead. But my position was, and maybe it was a little easier for me because I was dual hatted as a USAFE commander and the NATO AIRCOM commander was to say, “Hey, AIRCOM is leading this. US, you got to roll in underneath this and this is a NATO-led operation in terms of how we were going to construct it, posture ourselves.” And then when it got into the operational details of special instructions, the air tasking order, all that needed to be linked. It takes some work, but it’s completely doable.

So as you get into this question that you’re bringing, I would tell you that NATO’s got to lean into this. And frankly, there are some nations when it comes to mind when I talk about some of the work that the Dutch have done, some of the northern tier nations have spent a lot of time thinking about this. But it really gets to your point on, this is a lot about software and making sure that there’s a policy piece that the nations will have to work to say they’re willing to share their data, which to me, I’d want to look them straight in the eye and go, “Really? What more is it going to take?”

And then some of it will be on the US as we look at, okay, what are we willing to share to be able to facilitate this, I’ll call it domain awareness, which is critically important to be able to execute this mission, which then leads into the open architecture piece. Arguably, if you get the open architecture piece right, it makes the sharing of the data a little bit easier, but you’re going to have to get into the engineering piece. And that goes back to ensuring the architecture, and the infrastructure from an IT perspective can support what we’re trying to do here.

My thought was we shouldn’t be looking, NATO should not be looking for industry to come in and say, “I can solve this all at once.” I think you got to get at specific, you got to understand the problem and get at that particular pieces of the problem and go, “Okay, let’s solve this first, then let’s solve this, and incrementally move forward.”

General (Ret) Jeffrey Harrigian, Ensuring Effective Integrated Missile Defense Architecture with our Allies and Partners Virtual Roundtable, February 24, 2023

So, we do have a little bit of time, but we’ve absolutely got to understand what the primary lesson learned here is, which is their heavy reliance on cruise, ballistic, hypersonic missiles and drones is something we have to prepare for. We, being NATO and the United States, and I think there are two different aspects to this. There’s a NATO aspect and there’s a coalition of the willing US European Command-led aspect. And in both places, we have to have the right policy in place, the right architecture in place, and the right systems in place. And sometimes they’re the same, a lot of time they’re the same. But with NATO it’s not always the same. At the end game, they can make things harder.

So, on the policy side, this is about a focus on Russia. The fact that we even have to say this out loud is insane. That Russia is the problem in Europe, not Iran. Let me just tell you, the guy who was maneuvering us the hardest back in, I guess, 9, 10, 11, 12 about EPAA being led in Iran was their Deputy Foreign Minister Lavrov, the guy who’s currently a war criminal is foreign minister in Russia. The idea that the guidance he was giving us in 2010, and 2012 still has an impact on NATO, says a lot about NATO, and not in a good way.

NATO and European command have to be thinking like JADC2s coming. And those same principles of all sensors talking to each other, all sensors talking to shooters, fire and quality track data. So, this is the plus-up. Right now, it’s a Link 16-based system that just says, “Hey, there’s somebody over there at about this range in this altitude. You probably want to take care of that.” Right? You can even send a force order saying, “Please take care of that.”

What we need to be doing is passing fire and quality track data. It is rocket science I guess, but it’s not hard. The Navy, which is not the core of technicality in the US military, right? I’d give that to the Air Force and Space Force. The Navy’s figured out for 30 freaking years we’ve had cooperative engagement capability, doing a launch on remote, launch on track, fire, and quality track data. The Air Force and Navy have been in this with some of our advanced fighters.

We’re in a good position on this. The E-2D has it. The E-7 Wedgetail will have it. We are ready as a US force to do this and we got to make sure our European allies are in on it. Because if you want to be effective, which means we’re prioritized. Efficient, which means we don’t waste ammunition, two people shooting at the same thing which we don’t have enough of. And avoid fractalization. So effective, efficient, and avoid fractalization. You have to be integrated and interoperable. It is rocket science, but it’s doable.

Rear Admiral (Ret) Mark Montgomery, Ensuring Effective Integrated Missile Defense Architecture with our Allies and Partners Virtual Roundtable, February 24, 2023

Again, it’s about hitting the right opportunity at the right time for the right reasons that make change. And I think we have an opportunity in Lithuania to make change in awareness. And I agree with you, it’s not a US-dominant system that needs to be in there. We have to be able to show some sort of open architecture with one or two of our allies willing to showcase it, not exercise it, showcase it to get the rest of the group to shift in that momentum to understand how important, how critical IMD is for NATO as a defense organization.

So I think it is a great movement. I think there is traction over in NATO on this. There’s traction to make this happen. And excited that we had the opportunity to flush it out, and to look at some of the opportunities that are facing us. But again, you guys know, it’s a team game. And everybody’s got to be able to compete and play with each other and trust each other, and this is a perfect way to do this. So, thanks for a great conversation, it was awesome. And thank you, ladies, and gentlemen, for joining us.

Mr. Riki Ellison, Ensuring Effective Integrated Missile Defense Architecture with our Allies and Partners Virtual Roundtable, February 24, 2023

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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.