On Tuesday this week, the United States Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator Jim Inhofe, initiated the nomination process for two of the most able, qualified, and relevant American military leaders tasked with defending the whole of the United States, its 50 states, 5 territories, and teaming together with Canada and Mexico. These two highly respected, highly experienced Generals are superbly equipped to lead two critical Combatant Commands – SPACECOM and NORTHCOM – in order to best defend the United States of America from all threats. They have been selectively chosen by the Department of Defense and the President of the United States for this mission and have been scrutinized through interviews, testimonies, and questions by the United States Senate in the nomination process. Once confirmed, they will set the conditions and requirements for the defense of the United States homeland to prosper with peace and security over the next decade. This dynamic duo is an imperative partnership between the United States Army and the United States Air Force that is forged from the dynamic change in the World. There has been no era of dynamic changes equal to the time we are living in today.
“Over 32 years of service I don’t think I’ve ever seen a strategic and dynamic of a national security challenge that we have today. Over the last three decades, our competitors and potential adversaries have watched the United States and our way of deterring, our way of competing, and our way in conflict. They have taken the opportunity to adapt to that environment by watching us, specifically China and Russia, across all domains. Russia develops strategic capabilities such as their submarines, which now are a significant challenge for tracking and pose the potential for cruise missiles that can strike the homeland. China will do the same in the not too distant future, as they continue to develop their capabilities and become more expeditionary.” Lt Gen Glen VanHerck; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
The nomination of U.S. Air Force Lt Gen Glen D. VanHerck to be the next combatant commander of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) charged with the responsibility of the defense of the United States homeland. Lt Gen VanHerck has a depth of joint warfighting experience and command that rivals all previous NORTHCOM nominees. His time as the Commander at USAF Warfare Center at Nellis AFB where they are developing ABMS and ramp-ups to include integrated Cruise Missile Defense for NORTHCOM. His vast experience in JOINT high-level assignments brings the leadership experience of theJoint Cross-Domain Command and Control that is critical for our National Security. Lt. Gen VanHerck was the director of plans and integration for Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike at U.S. Strategic Command, the vice director for Strategy, Plans, and Policy (J5), Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Currently, he is serving as the Director of Joint Staff at the Pentagon, assisting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense, and President in an advisory position.
“As highlighted in the new defense space strategy, we are now facing the most significant transformation and the history of US National Security Space Programs. The scope, scale, and complexity of the threats to our space capabilities are real and concerning. We no longer have the luxury of operating in a peaceful and benign environment, and we no longer have the luxury of assuming our access to and ability to leverage the space domain is a given.” LTG Jim Dickinson; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
The nomination of LTG James “Jim” H. Dickinson of the United States Army to be the 10th commander of the United States Space Command, and second ever Space Combatant Commander, is historic and powerful. LTG Jim Dickinson is set to become the first Army officer to ever hold the Space Commander position and the first-ever U.S. Army Air Defense General Officer to be a Combatant Commander of any AOR and soon to be the first-ever U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Officer to earn the rank of a four-star General. LTG Jim Dickinson has commanded the Army Air Missile Defense Commands (AAMDC) in INDOPACOM, CENTCOM, and the 35th ADA brigade assigned to US Forces Korea. He has commanded the largest air defense organization in the world, the 32nd AAMDC, and has been the general officer serving as Director for Test for the Missile Defense Agency. He recently served at the highest position for the Army for Air Defense as the commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC)/Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.
This dynamic duo is in a position to address and put forward requirements for solutions to set the conditions to win in this challenging era of dynamic threats. These include Cruise Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Hypersonic missiles along with other Missile Defenses which are being developed, tested, demonstrated, and produced at high rates, and have begun operational deployment for regional and strategic means to infringe, influence and cross our borders and territories. The integration of SPACECOM, NORTHCOM, INDOPACOM, and CYBERCOM together to provide the best defense for our Homeland is critical, and the only path forward in a reduced COVID-19 budget environment for efficiencies in cost, capability, and effectiveness to best deter our adversaries.
“Those relationships [CYBERCOM, SPACECOM] are vitally important from a NORTHCOM perspective, reliant for indications of attack assessment with SPACECOM, as well as supporting from a cyber perspective, defensive capabilities.” Lt Gen VanHerck; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
It is the 24/7 Global Sensor Persistence to track, to discriminate, and put forward fire solutions on all missile threats from all types of missiles from anywhere in the world that can only be done in and from Space. SPACECOM will own this mission, develop this mission, and expand this mission to include fusing terrestrial sensors and discriminating fire control sensors that are being used today for the Ballistic Missile Defense of the United States Homeland. Having the most experienced U.S. Army General on land-based missile defense sensors as well as the Commander of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command sets the best possible path forward to achieve this mission. This mission is the top priority and this partnership being formed is monumental between SPACECOM, NORTHCOM, Army, and the Air Force.
“If confirmed domain awareness will be a top priority, we have to be able to detect those threats. And so if you can’t detect them, you certainly can’t defeat them, and you can’t deter them.” Lt Gen VanHerck; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
The second priority exists in the form of cruise missiles from the near peers of China and Russia that threaten the United States especially over the Arctic, over the horizon and lack of cruise missile defense architecture, sensors and effectors for the United States Homeland. “With regards to bombers and additional threats, the cruise missile threat certainly is a concern. And that would be a top priority if confirmed for me and domain awareness. It goes back to your radar question, having awareness as of what is coming over the horizon.” Lt Gen VanHerck; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
The third priority and the most visible is the growing Hypersonic Missile threat from China and Russia that is being launched from different platforms at standoff distances from multiple domains. Space Sensors to pick up the heat from these hypersonic speeds have been put forth by Congress for funding and authorization as a part of a constellation consisting of Wide Field of View, Medium Field of View, and additional Transport Layer Satellites. The specific part of this Space Sensor Layer that is designed to track the Hypersonic Missiles from birth to death is the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) system, which falls under the umbrella of the Medium Field of View satellites.
“…we need to have a space-based detection capability. That is absolutely critical to solve this problem with hypersonics. Our ability to see that threat early in the sequence or in the kill chain of that is absolutely critical to our success in defeating it. So I would look if confirmed to advocate for that capability in terms of building out a space-based sensor layer.” LTG Dickenson; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
The underlying foundation and ever existing priority of our Nation’s ability to defend the Homeland against the Nuclear Ballistic Missile threat is our GMD system. Though currently capped at 44 GBI interceptors, there is complete confidence by Lt Gen VanHerck to negate the current North Korean nuclear ICBM threat today to the United States. “U.S Northern Command can defend the homeland against the current North Korean ballistic missile threat.” Lt Gen VanHerck; Dirksen Senate Office Building; July 28, 2020.
This GBI fleet which is being extended through System Life Extension Program (SLEP) by Congress to give it more life and reliability will be integrated with discrimination sensors in space, and on land, increasing effectiveness from a limited capacity, and will have a Under Layer of SM3 Block IIA and THAAD ER interceptors for specific defended areas within the United States and its territories over the next 10 years until the NGI is deployed operational. Though there is optimism for the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) to be deployed in less than 10 years, it remains a significant challenge and a significant risk.
This Dynamic Duo of SPACECOM and NORTHCOM will adapt and overcome these challenges to bring forward the best leadership for their requirements to best defend the United States Homeland
“That’s an impossible shot, Batman.” “That’s a negative attitude Robin.”
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.