By Carrie E. David
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — A U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command leader discussed air and missile defense modernization efforts to address evolving threat capabilities at the 19th Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
Richard DeFatta, director, Capability Development and Integration Directorate, USASMDC/ARSTRAT’s Future Warfare Center, addressed attendees Aug. 16, the first day of the three-day event, at the Von Braun Center.
“Since the development of the Army (air and missile defense) strategy in 2012, the (air and missile defense) strategic environment has changed and continues to evolve in terms of threats, operational demands, guidance and fiscal realities,” DeFatta said. “A renewed focus of (air and missile defense) capabilities toward air threats and protection of ground forces over large areas is an Army priority.”
In 2015, SMDC released Waypoint 1 to the 2012 Air and Missile Defense Strategy. DeFatta said that Waypoint 1 was not a rewrite but addressed the current Army investment and recommended additional investments. One challenge outlined in this document is the current fight.
“The (air and missile defense) force is a key strategic enabler for the Army, the joint force, and the nation, and as such, is globally deployed and regionally engaged,” DeFatta said. “The impact of this continuing and increasing demand on the Army (air and missile defense) force has resulted in the forward stationing or deployment of close to 60 percent of the (air and missile defense) force.”
DeFatta said earlier this year he began a holistic assessment of the (air and missile defense) portfolio’s capability gaps against the threat and identified holistic cause portfolio solutions to mitigate those gaps in the near term.
“Complex integrated attacks is an emerging threat trend that combines unmanned aircraft systems, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and fixed rotor ring aircraft in a well-coordinated and synchronized attack,” DeFatta said. “This threat is expected to be supported by advanced electronics and cyberattacks.
“We continue to work with emerging technologies and approaches to balance the threat,” DeFatta said. “This includes high energy lasers, electromagnetic technologies and left of launch options such as non-kinetic and cyber solutions.”
Lt. Gen. David Mann, SMDC’s commanding general, spoke briefly after DeFatta and reinforced several points that he said Army senior leadership are concerned about.
“What can you do for me now? What can you do for me tonight based on the threats we are facing?” Mann said. “There is a great sense of urgency about looking at what we can do right now.”
Mann said other areas of interest are increasing existing program capabilities, accelerating programs where it makes sense, and sustaining current programs, and that the programs generating interest are electronic warfare, directed energy, laser, and passive sensors, among others.
The Space and Missile Defense Symposium is an annual event designed to encourage information exchange between government, military, international partners, and industry leaders to promote understanding and synchronize priorities with advanced capabilities. The 2016 them for the symposium is “Space and Missile Defense in a Complex World.”