Secretary Mattis made a necessary and long awaited decision to bring a U.S. battalion of Patriot missile defense capability and capacity out of deployment in the Middle East region, specifically from Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan. The Patriot batteries in Kuwait have been in place since Desert Storm and Patriot batteries in Bahrain started in 2009. The removal of these Patriot systems will relieve tremendous strain on the manning requirements and the equipment of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Branch, which due to lack of Patriot capacity were doing year-long deployments and forward deployed more than all the other Army branches. These U.S. Patriot units provided stability through both Gulf Wars and throughout the Arabian Gulf Region in our allies’ territories, that weren’t strong enough to defend themselves from aggression. In Kuwait, these Patriot batteries defended and preserved the major hub for the U.S. military presence in this region if needed. In Bahrain, Patriot was introduced there in 2009 to defend the United States 5th Fleet headquarters and home to Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ships that patrol the Gulf. In Jordan, the Patriot deployed there defended the allied air force power projection into Syria and Iraq against ISIS and other groups. MDAA had the opportunity to visit all three of these Patriot sites at their peak of deterrence and performance over the past 16 years.
The U.S. Patriot Air Defense is overstretched in the Pacific and its war fighting readiness for the Patriot Force on whole has been sacrificed for combat capability in conflicts in the Middle East that have been won, stabilized, and adequately deterred, which has gradually been supplemented by allied Patriot forces deployed in the region. The United States can and has to accept the risk of removing combat capability in the Middle East to increase its military readiness in equipment and manpower in the Pacific and globally. The U.S. has the most deployed Patriot capability in the Middle East today and where it’s needed most is the Pacific.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will soon have the most Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) capability and capacity, second only to the United States. Deployed future THAAD and Patriot batteries in Saudi Arabia have the range and defended area to cover Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the Arabian Peninsula. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has the most capable missile defenses deployed amongst the Gulf Coalition Council (GCC) with a deployed THAAD and Patriot systems today and are expanding to get more. Both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are integrated together with their Patriot systems today, defending Riyadh and Saudi Arabia against the Iranian backed Houthis.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can defend Arabia from ballistic missiles – enhancing that capability are U.S. sensors and U.S. Patriot capability that will remain deployed in the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. The crucial key is trust and the sharing of these sensors, interceptors and firing solutions through Link-16 for a common air picture and common command and control that is integrated.
It is the future and example of Allied U.S. Partnership in Integrated Air and Missile Defense that shares the burden of defense of the region.
Respectfully from the Arabian Peninsula