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Photo By Maj. Robert Fellingham | A Stinger missile launches from the new Maneuver Short Range Air Defense system on Oct. 7, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Robert Fellingham)

“We are implementing a balanced package of political and military measures to respond to this threat,” “This includes significant improvements to our air and missile defenses, strengthening our conventional capabilities with fifth-generation jets, adapting our exercises and intelligence and improving the readiness and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Aerial threats are an emerging threat to the United States and our allies in Europe. Specifically, from Russia. Recently, NATO endorsed a plan to defend itself and deter Russia by making significant improvements in missile defense. Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) weapon systems have been a critical military investment since the end of the Cold War. During the Cold War period, Short-range air defense served as the optimal counter against low–flying helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts. The new aerial threats posed by Russia in Eastern Europe, such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), can be mitigated by M-SHORAD systems. Russia proliferates offensive missile technologies and weapons systems to US adversaries. The recent Missile attack in Syria that targeted US forces was a suspected Iranian-backed mission. This type of strategic collusion by US adversaries requires comprehensive strategic cooperation by like-minded US allies and partners.

The advent of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) posed a significant and lethal challenge to the United States and its allies. Their relatively small build makes them capable of evading both sensor and visual detection, serving as a stealthy reconnaissance asset, and possess the capability of carrying high explosives for attacking purposes. UAS systems can create a substantial amount of fatal damage as seen by the 2019 Iran attack against Saudi oil fields, countries worldwide are countering how best to defend against this new threat. In 2014, Russia successfully demonstrated their capability to integrate UAS systems when it conducted reconnaissance missions over Zelenopillya with their drone fleet that helped Russia deliver a decisive victory with their ongoing conflict with Ukraine. Along with the emergence of new advanced surface-to-air cruise and ballistic missiles from near-peer competitors such as Russia and China, countries worldwide are honing in, and in some cases modernizing new air defense systems capabilities.

The United States Army is revamping its entire air defense branch with an emphasis on SHORAD. The current goal is to grow the force by adding 10 modernized active duty SHORAD battalions while maintaining the seven Army National Guard’s existing SHORAD units. The United States is looking to modernize the SHORAD community as the threats to maneuvering units from aircrafts, drones, cruise, and ballistic missiles continue to expand by developing a new 5 week advanced initial training course at Fort Sill to support the integration and fielding of the new Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense system (M-SHORAD). 

One of the most well-known Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) weapon systems currently still employed is the AN/TWQ-1 Avenger. Short-range missile defense systems have been a critical military investment since the end of the Cold War. Short-range air defense is the optimal counter against low–flying helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts. Fielded by the United States Army and U.S. Marine Corps, the Avenger includes a gyro-stabilized launcher platform that sits on top of a heavy variant HMMWV, giving it a mobile advantage while also possessing an all-weather day/night capability. The Avenger was designed to launch the FIM-92 Stinger missiles and saw its peak usage during the Persian Gulf War and the Balkans conflict during the 1990’s. After 9/11, the Avenger was utilized to defend the homeland when National Guard units around the country were mobilized in Washington D.C. to provide short-range air defense to the National Capital Region, a mission still in operation. 

During the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, SHORAD saw its utility regress as counterinsurgency missions in the Middle East saw modest needs for SHORAD. The United States Army decided to scale back the number of SHORAD units in its force, inactivating eight of the ten active component SHORAD battalions, relegating the majority of SHORAD requirements to the seven SHORAD battalions organic to the National Guard. A major consequence of this decision has led to a generational divide with not only ADA Soldiers, but all Soldiers on how to effectively integrate SHORAD formations to provide defensive fires in support of maneuver units. At the conclusion of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as the United States and its allies drew back from its counterinsurgency missions in the Middle East, the United States conducted a new threat assessment with a growing emphasis on emerging aerial threats.  

Last week was a major milestone for the M-SHORAD and European air and missile defense community. Soldiers in Northern Germany from the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, subordinate to the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command were the first to conduct a live fire exercise that simulated the M-SHORAD system effectively engaging drones while testing the 7.62 mm machine gun mounted on a Stryker platform. Unlike the AN/TWQ-1 Avenger, the M-SHORAD sits on top of a Stryker platform compared to the Humvee for the Avenger system. The Stryker provides greater survivability and maneuverability for combat environments while both continue to utilize the Stinger missile. Additionally, the M-SHORAD Stryker platform also possesses a javelin capability intended to support ground operations and provide organic self defense. With that said, the on-boarding process for a new system such as the M-SHORAD takes a considerable amount of time before it can be fully implemented in the force. From incorporating a new doctrine, developing tactics, techniques, and procedures, and standing up a new schoolhouse to train future air defenders, it takes significant time for new systems to be fully operational and combat ready. With a new sense of urgency from top military and civilian officials on the need to reinvigorate our SHORAD capabilities, the United States can lead in defensive air fires that is unmatched to none. 

NATO’s commitment to funding and supporting missile defense programs, like the M-SHORAD, will strengthen the defensive capabilities and deter our adversaries throughout Europe. We commend NATO’s commitment to missile defense. The strategic threats posed by China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, span both the European and Indo-Pacific theaters. Theater-Strategic synergy and the systematic integration of Missile Defense capabilities across the entire spectrum of threats — along with our allies and partners, is a National Security imperative.

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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.