Change is in the Air

Dear Members and Friends,

Over the past four days, tucked away, in downtown Huntsville, Alabama’s Von Braun Center, was the annual Space and Missile Defense Conference that brought the collective space and missile defense team together to set the pace for the next 12 months.

The perspectives and overviews of leaders from the major organizations within the U.S. government and the U.S. military, that oversee, acquire, develop, train, equip, create doctrine, and, command U.S. space and missile defense assets were presented to a civilian based industry audience that represents a critical core component of this all encompassing mission and its dependency for success with the joint U.S. military services and their troops involved with space and missile defense. Commander of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, LT. General Richard Formica, Lt. General John Hyten of U.S. Air Force Space Command, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, and Chairman of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee that oversees space and missile defense, U.S. Representative Michael Turner (OH-3) made up the core leadership group that presented at the conference. Noticeably missing was Lt. General Pat O’Reilly, the current Director of the Missile Defense Agency.

In gathering their team during a few of Alabama’s August summer days and nights in preparation for the upcoming year, it is apparent that change will happen within the next 12 months for the U.S. space and missile defense community as the fate of the sequestration’s across the board 500 billion dollar cuts on the U.S. military will be determined, a new Congress will be elected, a new Director of the Missile Defense Agency will take the helm, ballistic missile threats around the world will continue to proliferate, and a new U.S. President may take office. Added challenges to this joint military and civilian team come in the form of arguably the four biggest missile defense tests our nation will perform in providing confidence to our war fighters, our leaders, and our public. Starting with the most complex test, shooting five targets with three current missile defense systems in October, a SM-3 Block IB intercept test in November to move forward with production and Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), a Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) homeland defense non intercept test to prove the issues with the Kill Vehicle were resolved in December, and in the late spring of 2013 a hopeful first U.S. homeland GBI successful intercept test since 2008 to enable the GBI’s second generation kill vehicle to go back into the operational fleet to protect the U.S. homeland. The success of all of these tests will determine the fate of our nation’s missile defense systems and the collective will as well as leadership of this all encompassing joint military and civilian team will determine the success of these four critical tests.

New concepts and technologies were introduced and highlighted to the joint team such as the focus on a specific global strategic and regional offensive systems mix of both kinetic and non kinetic weapons to supplement our current and future missile defenses. As the Combatant Commanders continue to drive for more missile defense capability as the threat continues to grow, there is resound clarity that our nation and allies will never be able to match a defensive missile for every single offensive threat missile being deployed for we do not have the resources, as current offensive missiles are much cheaper to produce than current defensive missiles are. Thus, having a quiver full of both preemptive offensive capability and defensive capability dedicated towards missile defense provides our nation’s Combatant Commanders, including the USSTRATCOM Commander, a capability to fully defeat as well as shape a perception to prevent a strategic or regional missile attack from anywhere, anytime, and anyone throughout our globe. A few of these ideas came to discussion as the recently tested hypersonic glide reentry vehicle was highlighted along with the parallel concept of counter fires artillery introduced in matching missile defense with missile offense. Among these ideas was the non kinetic use of cyber and electromagnetic force that could project electronic fields to disrupt control and direction of incoming threat missiles. Also presented was nanosatellite technology for assurance of space.

Current technologies were looked at thoroughly as the fragility of land and sea based sensors moved to drawing attention of a constellation of Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS) low orbit satellites in the 2021 time frame of Phase IV of the EPAA for tracking and possibly fire control. The MEADS 360 degree mobile operating UHF long range radar made its public debut here this year as it was in full rotating operation in the arena and will have a intercept test this fall. Next to it was the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), the next generation electronic integrated air space command and control that will be replacing the current Patriot system at the battalion and battery level beginning in 2016 with the inclusion of THAAD further down the line.

Most poignant and political was Representative Mike Turner’s remarks on missile defense spending. He directly challenged President Obama’s Administration for forcing our nation to have to choose between regional defense and homeland defense rather than do both equally. Representative Turner’s statements on the ratio of our current missile defense budget dollars being at four to five dollars spent on regional defense for every one dollar spent on Homeland Defense as well as an initial 1.5 billion dollar cut to homeland defense by the President when he first came into office and a current additional cut of 3.6 Billion to U.S. homeland defense over the next five years by the current Administration is in direct contrast to the same Administration’s policy and the MDA slide presented at this conference that clearly stated U.S. homeland defense is the number one priority. Added to this was a projection by Representative Turner that the EPAA and European defense would cost to the U.S. taxpayer 8.5 billion dollars over five years with the knowledge that its free of charge to the European countries.

The collective team lead by our Nation’s leaders both in government and military this year have a great challenge ahead for their collective will to provide our Global Combatant Commanders their needs to deter, defeat, and shape those entities that threaten their regions by missiles.

The team’s will to win as a collective joint unit , compete to be the very best, gain the resources necessary and be efficient with them, use their diverse skill sets, and provide the end user, the war fighter, his and her needs is the key to overcoming the great challenges and changes they face this year.

MDAA was grateful to be here in Alabama over the past four days with this team on the onset of their new year. We hosted our annual MDAA Breakfast of Champions here at the conference, with LT. General Richard Formica, Command Sergeant Major Larry Turner to honor some of the best soldiers and civilians of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Command: Soldier of the Year: SGT Anthony Moore, Non Commissioned Officer of the Year: SGT Brandon Kitchen, Civilian of the Year: Ms. Stephanie Dufour. We have also enclosed a link to view Lt Gen Richard Formica’s presentation at the conference.

Photos from MDAA’s Breakfast of Champions

  1. General Formica’s Presentation

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