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Mr. Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, and General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, testify before HASC on March 3, 2020. (Photo: DVIDS - U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Harvey)

The United States Army, overseen by civilian control by the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, and in partnership with the Chief of Staff of the Army, General James C. McConville, presented to Congress last week their Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request for the Army. The Former Secretary of Army and now the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, in partnership with the former Chief of Staff of the Army and now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, also presented to Congress the overall FY 2021 Defense budget request last week to Congress.

“The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) provides a clear roadmap for the Department of Defense (DoD) to address the re-emergence of long-term strategic competition from near-peer competitors: China, then Russia” – The Honorable Mark T. Esper, Secretary of Defense, at the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing on the DoD Budget Posture on March 4, 2020.

“In 2018, the NDS outlined the current and future threat picture, drastically changing the Army’s focus. The strategy outlined great power competition, specifically Russia and China, who are rapidly investing to modernize their formations. In order to achieve national objectives laid out in the defense strategy, including deterrence, the Army with the support of Congress, developed 3 distinct priorities of readiness, modernization, and reform” – The Honorable Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, at the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing on the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Army on March 3, 2020.

The near peers of China and Russia, with significant resources invested and coupled with a  powerful unified intent, have developed, tested, and deployed missile systems directly to overmatch, contest, and deny U.S. coalition and joint maneuver forces to operate in contested areas. The United States has not been able to address, invest, and deploy adequate air defenses against the near peer evolving missile threats to freely operate in contested environments due to its priority and resourcing for conflicts over the past two decades in the Middle East as air, land, space, and sea supremacy to maneuver joint forces were not contested.

One of the most critical important missions to be addressed by the United States is the land based 360 degree cruise missile defense within the United States Army to defend U.S. Joint Forces in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Korea, Japan, the Pacific, Europe, and the United States homeland & territories today and in the future. Due to the lack of that capability, the United States Congress put in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which became Public Law 115-232 on August 13, 2018, “Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall certify to the congressional defense committees whether there is a need for the Army to deploy an interim missile defense capability.” Congress further defined an interim missile defense capability as, “a fixed site, cruise missile defense capability that may be deployed before the Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) of the Army becomes fully operational.”

As by this law, in order to meet the deadlines, the interim cruise missile defense capability would have the following:

  • Deploy systems that require the least amount of development
  • Procure non-developmental air and missile defense systems currently in production to ensure rapid delivery of capability
  • Use existing systems, components, and capabilities already in the Joint Force inventory, including rockets and missiles as available
  • Use operational information technology for communication, detection, and fire control that is certified to work with existing joint information technology systems to ensure interoperability
  • Use institutional and operational basing to facilitate rapid training and fielding

The United States Army chose the Iron Dome system that is operating very successfully in Israel by the Israel Defense Force for mortar and small rocket defense with over 2,000 intercepts of rockets and mortars since deployment in 2011, but does not fulfill all the requirements listed above. It is noted too that no other United States ally and partner in Europe, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Korea, Japan, and Australia has an Iron Dome system and thus burden sharing of this capability is non-existent. Last week General John Murray, Commander of Army Futures Command, testified at the HASC hearing on the FY 2021 Army and Marine Corps Ground Modernization Programs on March 5, 2020 and stated, “It took us longer to acquire those two batteries than we would have liked for a lot of different reasons… We believe we cannot integrate them into our air defense system based upon some interoperability challenges, some cyber [security] challenges, and some other challenges. So what we ended up having is two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable, but they cannot be integrated.”

General Murray further stated on integration if Israel provided Iron Dome proprietary data, “We don’t know yet. We’re significantly behind, I wouldn’t say ‘schedule,’ we’re behind where we thought we were going to be, just based upon, it took us longer to get two batteries than we thought it would… My assessment right now is, it would be — and I hate to ever use the word ‘impossible’ — but exceptionally difficult to integrate Iron Dome into our layered air defense architecture [and] to get Iron Dome talk to other systems, other radars, specifically the Sentinel radar. What you’re probably — almost certainly – going to see is two standalone systems, and if the best if we can do is standalone systems, we do not want to buy another two batteries.” – General John Murray, Commander of Army Futures Command, during an interview with Breaking Defense on March 5, 2020.

The United States Army has an existing fixed site cruise missile defense system, components, and capabilities already in the Joint Force inventory that allies and partners in the GCC, Europe, Australia and India have also deployed, soon to have deployed, or in the process of acquiring that fulfills these Congressional requirements. The National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) has been deployed and operational under the command of the Joint Air Defense Operations Center (JADOC) since 2005 by the Army National Guard in one of the most complex air environments in the world to defend the United States’ highest asset, the National Capital Region (NCR). The NASAMS have been tested against and qualified to shoot down cruise missiles from 360 degrees.

Having operational NASAMS that are already Link 16 capable, work in the joint force under JADOC, a proven system, and leverages the existing deployed Army Sentinel radars for tracking and firing solutions and existing manning from the Army National Guard of seven states, that are home to seven rotating Air Defense Battalions that operate the missile defenses of the NCR could provide an interim defense capability as the Army’s IFPC capability is not yet defined while it gets developed and tested to integrate into the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) with Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS), which all three systems are many years away from operational deployment.

With the recent Army surge deployment of two Patriot batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) into the Middle East, current Army air and missile defense Patriot and THAAD operations are strained globally on an unsustainable 1 to 1 dwell time of deployment for soldiers, that has to be addressed by reducing the demand that would preferably be from allied burden sharing or increasing the Army Air and Missile Defense Force. Surging Army Air Defense Artillery (ADA) deployed forces with Army National Guard with “interim missile defense capability” where required would help to address the 360 cruise missile defense capability and relieve some of the strain on the Army ADA Soldiers and their efficiency of their missile defense systems.

“The demand for Army forces paired against a flat budget has forced tough fiscal decisions. In-depth program reviews will continue in FY21, with a total target of 9.1 billion in programs what will be delayed, reduced, or eliminated.”  – The Honorable Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, at the HASC hearing on the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Army on March 3, 2020.

The Joint Missile Defense Force will be the First to Fire in the defense of our Joint Force deployed overseas, both fixed and maneuverable.

It is imperative that United States have an interim fixed site cruise missile defense capability.

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.