As our country shifts its balance of power after the first two years of President Trump, across the Atlantic a shift is also taking place in NATO Europe to reset its balance of peace and security. Led by its strongest alliance member, the United States, it has reassessed the regional threats and national threats of declaring Russia and China, the near peer competitors, throughout its national strategic documents. This coupled with the escalating confrontation with China in the Pacific that has compounded a “shift to the Pacific” from President Obama’s Administration with a limited defense budget that forces downsizing and no growth resources for combatant command regions of the world to include Europe. Indications from the withdrawal of the Russian INF Treaty to better compete with China, increasing U.S. forces and structure into the Pacific, going into space as a war fighting domain to compete with China, leading to a likely conflict with China in the next 10-15 years leaves allies, especially NATO, with increased burden sharing responsibilities for the defense of their territories.
21 NATO nations, who lack sacrificing the equal shared burden of national defense resources for the defense of Europe, rely on the other 8 nations to carry the shortfalls and continue in reaping the peace dividends of the end of the Cold War for social welfare programs over defense programs.
During this peace period of reset with Russia, NATO Air Dominance and Superiority, Precision-type Warfare in far away places of the Middle East with a lengthy risk adverse study capability based acquisition, dismantling of Air and Missile Defenses and building U.S. ballistic missile defense sites and system (EPAA) in Europe for the specific and only long range ballistic missile threat from Iran, Russia took strategic advantage to technologically leap exponentially forward in advancing its missile capabilities to deny area access over parts of NATO Europe and to demonstrate hypersonic weapons and over-the-horizon 360-degree maneuverable cruise missiles launched from air, sea, and land at historic stand off distances to penetrate unobstructed NATO territory. Added to this behemoth Russian threat is the 360-degree long distance UAV to Ballistic Missile Threat being demonstrated to civilian airports and critical infrastructure in the Middle East from the Iran backed Houthis rebels as well as Iran demonstrating launching more capable ballistic missiles.
There is a tremendous air and missile defense gap of capability and capacity deployed and operational in Europe to defend against these new threats attacking through the air and through space. None of the NATO forces, including the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Multinational Battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland, the Headquarters Multinational Divisions Northeast and Southeast, the Multinational Corps Northeast Headquarters, the Headquarters Allied Air Command, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), are defended from air and space breathing threats towards both fixed and maneuverable forces. The new 300 million dollar storage facilities to house and stockpile 5 billion dollars worth of U.S. military equipment in Europe amongst and along key air and sea logistical hubs are not defended against these threats. This blatant lack of capability and capacity offers no enhanced deterrence nor adds to the credibility of survivability of NATO active combat forces, logistic hubs and power projection platforms deployed today and in the near future throughout Europe that deter threats and defend European citizens.
Integrated Regional layered air and missile defenses that go from Space to the ground and sea, defending against ballistic missiles to drones have to be addressed and led by the United States who is most able with the NATO countries of the willing who have capability to best defend Europe. Critical to this integration is the Command and Control structure to fuse all available data from all available sensors to create a single central air and space picture with firing solutions to interceptors available. Following this is the development and deployment of Layers of persistent terrestrial, maritime and overhead air and space discriminating sensors. Then comes the variety of interceptors from different domains and different ranges to collectively be efficient and effective. It all starts with a Master IAMD Plan and a Master IAMD Exercise for NATO Europe to truly understand the challenges and address the gaps.
In this dynamic environment, MDAA held its 5th European High-Level Air and Missile Defense Talks in Berlin, Germany amongst the NATO nations of the willing to get at this issue.
It takes a team, and a team led by the United States, but it takes NATO to defend NATO.