May 25, 2010

Dear members and friends,

In parallel to the current situation with North Korea where heightened tensions have risen due to the act of war – sinking of a South Korean ship and deaths of 46 Korean sailors, the ballistic missile threat to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and the Korean Peninsula are at the highest levels in the world today. The reaction of the United States and the world to the Korean situation of applying stiffer sanctions, shutting off trade and using diplomatic methods on a nuclear North Korea sets a precedent for Iran. This precedent of relying on diplomacy and not military action in reaction to an act of war from North Korea combined with Iran’s progress towards their nuclear ambition continues to highlight the missile defense requirements and needs for the U.S. military and its allies.

Missile defense is needed in both these crisis regions to enable diplomacy and containment to allow stability and to deter pre-emptive military action. U.S. Combat Commanders Admiral Robert Willard, PACOM and General David Petraeus, CENTCOM have deployed missile defense capabilities in their regions and are active with the growing requirements of these needs.

MDAA recently had the opportunity to spend three days with the U.S. Army’s 11th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) “Imperial” Brigade, the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) and the U.S. Army 1st Armor Division at Fort Bliss, Texas to support and learn about U.S. combat soldiers and their requirements for missile defense.

The 32nd AAMDC and its commander, Brigadier General Dave Mann, are General Petraeus’ “go to” combat force and experts on air and missile defense for the Middle East region. Directly under Brigadier General Mann is the 11th “Imperial” Brigade, commanded by Colonel Joe DeAntona with 5 battalions made up of over a 3,000 soldiers and Air and Missile Defense batteries of PATRIOT PAC-3 and PAC-2, Avenger, the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) as well the two new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries.

The 11th ADA Brigade has been one of the Army’s most often deployed units over the past 20 years. Since August 1990, the 11th ADA has been deployed to almost every location worldwide where the threat of hostile missiles was likely or imminent. With their U.S. headquarters located at Fort Bliss, Texas, the 11th ADA has spent many years in the Middle East under U.S. CENTCOM; beginning in the summer of 1990 in Saudi Arabia and remaining deployed in force today in Persian Gulf countries to protect U.S. CENTCOM’s most critical assets.

More deployment of current missile defense capabilities including forward-based sensors and an enhanced command and control for CENTCOM to efficiently use any sensor and any interceptor at any time is a priority. The war fighters’ needs are followed closely by having more capability for earlier shots to engage a missile before it enters the atmosphere. Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Ships in the Persian Gulf provide the first line of defense and the first THAAD Battery could soon be deployed in the Persian Gulf.

It is of particular merit that in March 2003, the 101st Airborne Division was assembled and preparing to move into Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Assembled en masse and vulnerable, the 101st was receiving anti-ballistic missile defense from the 11th ADA Brigade’s Delta Battery, 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery. Shortly after combat operations commenced, Saddam Hussein launched an Ababil missile directly at the 101st’s assembly area. Delta Battery identified the incoming missile, tracked it and successfully engaged the inbound missile before it landed on its intended target. The Division Commander, then Major General David Petraeus, commented on the engagement by saying that PATRIOT PAC-3 saved the 101st Airborne; General Petraeus clearly understands the need for missile defense.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives added an additional $360 million for missile defense to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. This increase will go towards the purchase of more SM-3 missiles, forward-based sensors and development of missile defense systems. One-third of the increase will be used to fulfill an unfunded request from the Army Chief of Staff to speed up the repair and recertification of PATRIOT PAC-3 missiles, and upgrade 24 additional launchers to the improved PATRIOT PAC-3 configuration.

Our nation needs to continually provide our military with their full requirements of missile defense in order to make our world a safer place and protect American and Allied lives.

The sun never sets on the Imperial Brigade or U.S. deployed missile defenses.

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