By Lira Frye
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The demand for space and missile defense capabilities continues to grow in response to the complex array of challenges to our nation from foreign adversaries, said James Johnson, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s senior civilian leader.
Johnson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT’s deputy to the commander, discussed the increasingly complex threat environment during the Association of the United States Army Missile Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, July 10, 2018.
“Over the next 10 years we’ll no doubt expand the list of threat systems and capabilities we’ll need to defend against,” Johnson said. “We have to sharpen our technical edge and ensure our lethality overmatch.”
Supporting those overmatch efforts, Johnson said SMDC provides critical technologies to address future needs that will enhance warfighter effectiveness. Technologies like the command’s high energy laser effort, microsatellite development and threat-representative low cost targets are key projects supporting Army modernization.
“We must remain bold and innovative, offering solutions to ensure our nation’s forces are prepared to fight across multiple domains,” Johnson said.
Highlighting preparedness, Johnson pointed out that SMDC provides trained and ready missile defense forces and capabilities to the global combatant commands.
SMDC Soldiers serving in the United States and in remote and austere forward-deployed locations operate the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the Army-Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance Forward-Based Mode radars, and the Joint Tactical Ground Stations.
Part of preparing trained and ready missile defense forces includes providing relevant and updated training to those Soldiers operating global missile defense systems. The rigor of the command’s missile defense courses earned SMDC recertification as an Army Learning Institute of Excellence, Johnson said.
As a recognized Army Center for Analysis, SMDC conducts studies to determine how to best meet the Army’s assigned missile defense responsibilities. The command’s analyses support the processes the Army uses to document its missile defense modernization needs and pursue joint and Army validation of its requirements.
Modernization takes money, Johnson told attendees.
“We have seen vast improvement with the FY18 budget, with a 100 percent increase for air and missile defense from FY17 to FY18, going from $1.7B to $3.6B.”
“That’s a great move toward what we need,” he said. “Sufficient and stable funding to support growth to meet the demand, and a high state of readiness in air and missile defense.”
The United States’ competitors and adversaries will never stop fielding new types of weapons, Johnson said. “Together we are engaged and poised to respond to the needs of today’s forces, to anticipate the future, and to ensure the U.S. Army remains the most dominant land power in the world.”