REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Two general officers, who work daily to address the security threats in existence in Europe and globally, called for a collaborative approach to regional and worldwide missile defense during their Aug. 17 presentations at the 13th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference.

Lt. Gen. John Gardner, deputy commander for the U.S. European Command, and Maj. Gen. Abraham Turner, chief of staff for the U.S. Strategic Command, both emphasized that the success of the nation's first theater for regional missile defense - the U.S. European Command - can only be achieved with a cooperative approach that involves European allies and NATO. Their comments spoke to the theme of the conference - "Enabling Regional Warfighters."

Finding the best ways to build capabilities together is the key that will ensure long-term regional missile defense, the two generals said during separate presentations.

Gardner said there are four focuses of the "highly collaborative effort" in Europe - building the right capabilities with European partners, supporting NATO and NATO transformation, assisting with training and equipping the forces of European partners that are deployed to Afghanistan, and assisting European nations with countering transnational threats and U.S. government agencies in their counterdrug, counterproliferation and counterpiracy operations.

Providing regional missile defense first involves "knowing what the threat is and what it is doing so we can engage," Gardner said. "Second, it is about developing a process to manage our readiness posture. How do we manage the entire (missile defense) architecture so that it's ready when we need it but not standing firm all the time'"

It also involves establishing missile defense architecture without redundancies, a response command and control that takes into account the human element, clear and agreed upon rules of engagement for "short time and short focus situations," a defined critical asset list, preplanned responses and frequent rehearsals.

"The time between when (aggressor) missiles are launched and when you have to react are relatively short," Gardner said. "You need to know your responses so it becomes drill-like, and that requires a certain amount of energy to prepare."

The U.S. has been involved with such training with Israel in a project called Juniper Cobra 10. Soldiers involved in the training participated in "simulations of a range of different attacks" that provided insights into policy, defense design and planning considerations, information exchange requirements, how to establish a common tactical picture with one or multiple national partners and debris issues.

"For us, this was a great event that focused energy on a lot of core tasks and missions," the three-star general said.

Gardner introduced his audience to the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe, which involves deploying an increasingly capable ballistic missile defense program over the next decade. That program would involve radars, command and control systems, ship-based Aegis systems, Standard Missile 3 interceptors, a land-based version of Aegis and variants of the SM-3.

"PAA will be the U.S. contribution to the NATO effort. If NATO elects missile defense as its primary mission, then this is the U.S. contribution," the general said.

PAA is a collaborative effort involving the Department of State, the Missile Defense Agency and other agencies. Work is being done to prioritize assets and common practices, Gardner said, so that "as we look worldwide, how does the process best support everyone'"

PAA - and the strong air and missile defense program it offers -- is the "fighter's stance" that the U.S. and NATO need to take in Europe to protect allies and troops, and to deter enemies from attacking in the first place, said Turner during his presentation.

"It's like taking up a fighter's stance," the two-star general said. "You want to be well-balanced, prepared to strike if someone tries to strike you."

The threat in Europe is very real, he said. Iran has hundreds of ballistic missiles to threaten its neighbors, deployed troops and southern Europe. It is friendly with North Korea, which has its own longer-range ballistic missile program that it has openly tested with launches across the Sea of Japan.

"This is a case where actions do speak louder than words," Turner said.

But, while the U.S. should be concerned about the intent of both Korea and Iran, it can't and shouldn't "bear the responsibility of global missile defense alone," he said.

"We will be a part of any future NATO-wide missile defense architecture ... and the U.S. will provide a leadership role in missile defense. The key guiding principles of missile defense is to build it regionally based on strong relationships and to think strategically."

Toward that end, the U.S. is actively seeking to engage Russia and China on missile defense.

"Integrated missile defense is not an issue only for the U.S. It demands teamwork," Turner said. "It demands a collective international approach."

The threats in existence around the world should be enough to convince U.S. allies and nations like Russia and China to address the importance of integrated missile defense.

"The threats do exist. Some may be saber rattling. But we cannot discount the threats around the world," Turner said.

"We need a broad and collaborative approach with our international partners. Integrated missile defense ensures our collective security now and into the future."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16