By Kari Hawkins, USAG Redstone February 6, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In a series of test videos that showed interceptors defending against incoming missiles, the director of the Missile Defense Agency shared the nation?'s ballistic missile defense strength with members of the Tennessee Valley of the National Defense Industrial Association on Jan. 28.
Speaking to a sell-out crowd of about 320 at the annual NDIA membership dinner at The Westin, Navy Vice Adm. James Syring said ?"we as a nation are protected today and our job at the Missile Defense Agency is to ensure we?'re protected tomorrow."
With the support of Congress and taxpayers, providing protection means adding capabilities that defend against the ?"number of missiles proliferating around the world?'s regions," and especially in nations such as North Korea and Iran, he said in his ballistic missile defense overview.
?"It?'s everything we do at our agency. It?'s how we frame what we do," Syring said.
The nation?'s ballistic missile defense system is an integrated, layered architecture comprised of sensors that include spaced-based, ground-based and sea-based radars, ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles which engage the enemy in the boost, midcourse and terminal layers, and the manual-controlled battle management system of computers which is networked around the world. Together, those three layers provide defense protection for the U.S., its allies and deployed forces.
?"Our focus really is not just increasing capabilities of what?'s fielded, but also the capacity of what?'s fielded," Syring said. ?"It?'s about increasing capacity around the world."
Referring to plans announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in March 2013 to bolster U.S. missile defenses in response to threats from North Korea, Syring reviewed work in support of that goal, including 14 more interceptors added at Fort Greely, Alaska, by 2017 for a total of 44, an additional radar fielded by the end of 2014 in Japan to bolster protection in the Pacific Rim region, environmental impact studies are being conducted in states along the U.S. East Coast for fielding more interceptors, and upgrades in fielded missiles, interceptor production, interceptor reliability and ground systems.
The nation?'s ballistic missile defense system is ?"really a breathtaking system and it all works together to defend the homeland," Syring said. But, he added, that it is a lot of work to upgrade systems to accommodate an expanding missile defense mission.
The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which is part of the nation?'s missile defense strategy and is primarily used on warships to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles, was praised by Syring, who said it is ?"proficient and technically proficient." Thirty Navy ships will be equipped with Aegis by the end of February and that number will increase to 33 by 2015. The system uses the Standard Missile 2 and Standard Missile 3, which are produced by Raytheon at its new facility at Redstone Arsenal.
Aegis will also be deployed on land in the countries of Romania and Poland by taking a ?"deck house off a destroyer (ship) and putting it ashore. … It?'s been absolutely the right decision to do that."
In the future, capabilities will be added to the Aegis system to allow it to launch remotely and engage remotely to allow ?"a ship to be a long way from a problem and get their interceptors on track," Syring said.
He also praised the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Defense) missile system ?"as a great example of a good engineered system that has been very, very successful." In 2013, THAAD was deployed in Guam and Syring predicts there will be more opportunities to come for THAAD.
MDA?'s continued missile system testing proves that the nation?'s ballistic missile defense strategy is effective. Syring mentioned one test of the Aegis system recently involved both Soldiers and Navy sailors who were not given advance notice of the test.
The successful test ?"gives me great confidence not only in the system but in the Soldiers and sailors, and what they were able to do," he said.
Persistent discriminators for radars and interceptors, high powered lasers, common kill vehicles and advanced research are all part of the future for the nation?'s missile defense program, he added.
In fulfilling the missile defense mission, MDA expects its industry partners to ?"build the right system and build the system right," to be a true partner with the government in building missile defense capabilities, and to provide guidance and suggestions that ensure MDA?'s provision of missile defense capabilities at the best price, Syring said. In turn, industry partners should expect MDA to manage risks with its partners, to encourage competition and to continue to encourage small businesses.
In thanks for his presentation, NDIA president Bob English announced that the chapter will make a donation to the Downtown Rescue Mission in Syring?'s name.
In other matters, the chapter swore in its 2014 board, announced that it is now accepting nominations for its 2014 NDIA awards and reviewed its 2013 achievements, including being named a model chapter for the 13th year in a row, contributing more than $70,000 to STEM programs to encourage the study and pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math careers by young people, co-sponsoring the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium for the 16th year, supporting numerous community activities for Soldiers and veterans, and sponsoring an awards program to recognize accomplishments of government and industry employees in the areas of leadership, management and technology.