ARLINGTON, Va. (Feb. 13, 2015) -- Exercise Tobruk Legacy, scheduled for this summer in the Czech Republic, will focus on integrating the disparate air defense systems of five NATO nations.
Integrating allied air and missile defense, or AMD, systems is increasingly important during a time when the United States can no longer afford to do it all alone, said AMD leaders addressing an Association of the United States Army "Hot Topics" forum, Feb. 12.
"We don't have the capacity to meet all the challenges," said Col. Gregory J. Brady, commander of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, which has units stretched across Europe. Brady and other experts, speaking on a panel discussing how to "Enable Defeat of the Full Range of Air and Missile Threats," emphasized that the United States needs partner nations.
Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will partner with U.S. forces in June for Tobruk Legacy, the largest live-fire missile defense exercise of its kind in years.
"We have five different countries, five different missiles and five different sensors and we're going to establish one common tactical air picture," Brady said.
Part of the challenge is to achieve interoperability of legacy ground-based air defense systems, Brady said.
This summer's exercise is a follow-on to last year's Exercise Master Harmony in which U.S., Czech and Slovak air defense units tested interoperability, Brady said. That exercise was reportedly the first time the Czech Republic tested its systems simultaneously with two other countries.
Such exercises assure nations in the region that allies will have their backs, Brady said, especially in light of the conflict in Ukraine.
"More importantly it's about establishing relationships," Brady said.
"You can't surge relationships overnight and you can't artifact trust," he said.
"It assures our allies, but more I think it's an effective deterrent against the emerging UAS [unmanned aerial system] and UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] threat to the alliance," Brady said.
Unmanned aerial systems are an increasing threat, according to several of the panelists. The proliferation of UAS among nations and other entities is growing.
One panelist said the UAS and asymmetric threat might be a bigger challenge than the traditional threat.
"We have plenty of time to detect a Russian attack on the United States, we think," said Air Force Col. Charles W. Douglass, chief, C2 Systems Division, North American Aerospace Defense Command.
"We have plenty of strategic indications and warning, we think.
"We can probably find the Russians as they're taking off and coming over their polar routes, whether it's a demonstration or an actual attack," Douglass said.
"But if it's an asymmetric threat, do we have that kind of time," Douglass asked.
The increasing cost of stopping the asymmetric threat was mentioned by another panelist, Rear Adm. Jesse A. Wilson Jr., director of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization on the Joint Staff, J8.
"We no longer can shoot down everything the enemy is firing at us," Wilson said. "We need to get left of launch" and look at technologies such as cyber and electronic warfare ... "and not try to shoot down everything with something that has a multi-million-dollar price tag against something they're buying at the Dollar Store.
"When you're running out of money, you can no longer continue to do business the way you've always been doing it. You've got to change something," Wilson said.
Maj. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, said the Army's culture or "DNA" is to never say no to a combatant commander.
"We're trying to step back and say it's time to rethink this," Cheek said. 'We need to get global priorities and make some hard calls..."
It is important to protect partner nation capabilities, though, he said.
"Connecting our allied nations is the easy part," said Brig. Gen. Neil Thurgood, program executive officer, PEO Missiles and Space. The real question is how can that connection be severed if need be, "because our friends today may not be our friends tomorrow, and we see that in our complex world today."
Col. Randall A McIntire, director of Air and Missile Defense for G-3/5/7, also participated in the panel, as did Jeffery Haworth, director of Intelligence and Security for the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Strategic Command. Retired Maj. Gen. Francis G. Mahon was the moderator.
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