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Old 05-08-2019, 01:45 PM
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Arrow Army looks to missile defense to counter new threats from Russia, China

Army looks to missile defense to counter new threats from Russia, China
By: Russ Read - Washington Examiner - 5-8-19

The United States has not had to worry about an enemy attacking with fighter aircrafts, drones, or advanced artillery for nearly 20 years. That won't be the case in a potential fight with China or Russia.

So as the U.S. military readjusts its focus from counterterrorism, the Army is looking to missile defense as the key factor in keeping its competitive edge.

The Army of the future will need "flexible, agile force" to guard against enemy air and missile capabilities, according to Col. Chad Skaggs, chief of the Army's air and missile defense integration. These new threats will require the Army to rethink how it conducts air defense, as it continues to move from defending against insurgents and rogue nations to adversarial powers that pose a more conventional threat.

"We had a change in the operating environment that we find ourselves in with the re-emergence of near-peer competitors and in many cases of peer competitors that can challenge us in multiple domains, and in some cases multiple domains simultaneously," Skaggs said Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

For nearly two decades, the Army's air and missile defense posture focused on countering threats posed by insurgents, guerrilla forces, and rogue states. These forces did not present the sort of conventional air and missile threat that potential adversaries with more competitive military forces will in the future, and the Army is relying on missile defenses like the Patriot system, terminal high altitude area defense, and others to keep its ground forces safe to maneuver.

"Over the last 15 or so years, air threats were not something we worried about with the exception of the rockets, artillery, and mortars on the FOBs," or forward operating bases, said Skaggs.

o readjust itself to the wars of the future, the service published goals and strategies in the Army Air and Missile Defense 2028 in late March. The report outlines a four-step approach involving the development of new capabilities, building capacity to fight in a variety of domains, increase training, and building up partner relationships.

"I'll just say this, one of the things I really like about this document is it's very blunt," said Thomas Karako, director of CSIS's Missile Defense Project. "First of all, it doesn't mince words about Russia and China, and it's very blunt about the fact they are going to try to disintegrate our air defenses, they're going to press our air defenses."

Both Russia and China have prioritized the research and development of air and missile systems capable of defeating some of the most essential U.S. military assets. Russia has made significant developments in hypersonic missiles that reportedly can evade U.S. air defenses. China has apparently stockpiled thousands of missiles tailor-made to attack large American ships.

In some cases, Skaggs admitted, the Army is going to have to relearn old lessons when it comes to basic defenses, like teaching troops to disperse and keeping light pollution to a minimum. Army Brigade Combat Teams have even retaught some soldiers to use man-portable Stinger missiles, the same weapons made famous by Afghan fighters during their war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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