By Kari Hawkins, Redstone Rocket StaffJanuary 22, 2009
Though stretched to its manpower limits, the Army is proving itself on the battlefield thanks to its Soldiers and the Army civilians and contractors who support them, a commanding general told an audience of more than 600 during Friday's annual membership luncheon of the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association at the Von Braun Center's North Hall.
But the future will bring new challenges and opportunities in terms of technology and resources that the Army must now work to address, particularly when it comes to space and global missile defense systems, said Lt. Gen. Kevin Campbell, commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.
"We are an out-of-balance Army, meaning that we consume all our resources in two theaters," Campbell said. "If we can keep to 15 brigades deployed that will give our Soldiers time at home between deployments."
Yet, despite the high cost of deployments on Soldiers and the Army they serve, Campbell said re-enlistment numbers, especially for Soldiers in theater, are "very high."
"What that tells us is our Soldiers recognize what they are doing is important, and our NCOs and officers who are leading are doing a good job day in and day out," he said. "And I want to thank you (defense civilians and contractors) because many of you are building the capability they use day in and day out."
In today's era of persistent conflict, Campbell said trends in population shifts, technological developments and resource limitations could make for a more challenging global environment.
By 2030, there will be 8.5 billion people on Earth, with 65 percent of those living in cities. The populations of India and China will be on the upswing while Europe and Russia will be on the decline.
"Our friends and allies may not be as willing to risk their treasure as population shrinks," Campbell said.
At the same time, technology will increase and resources will decrease.
"Technology will get cheaper. Higher end weapons will become more available," Campbell said. "By 2030, China could buy military capability equal or better than ours. There are a lot of interesting trends, I think, that could lead to some mischief and problems for us in the future."
There is also a belief that an enemy attack of U.S. communication systems would be more efficient than attacking the nation's military capability, he said.
Today's Soldiers at the most basic unit level are making the difference on the battlefield and influencing the nation's future in the international arena.
"Some of the decisions taken by young men and women have implications well beyond the battlefield ... Our responsibility is to empower them. We need to give them access to information they need when they need it," Campbell said.
The Army will work to keep its Soldier units versatile, expeditious, agile, lethal and interoperable, and "space is certainly a critical element of that," he said.
"The space capability we have across this country underpins U.S. economic, technological and global leadership. But there will be a leveling of that environment. There will be an emergence of China and others as space powers. As we increase our reliance on space it has become a crucial environment with potential and liabilities."
The U.S. must look closely at making the right investment in space capabilities.
"The challenge in this area will be that space will not be a sanctuary. It is going to be contested," Campbell said. "We have to build satellites that have self protection. They have to be treated like combat platforms."
He said the new administration will "take a very hard look at" global missile defense and the integration of systems that can defend more than one region.
Today, in a world where China has 1,324 missiles aimed at Taiwan, people worry about military domination and proliferation of missile systems used against otherwise peaceful nations. As U.S. capabilities improve, adversaries will find other ways to threaten world peace.
"The days of the ballistic projectory may be coming to an end," Campbell said. "Everyone knows the U.S. has systems to stop projectory. There will be a re-armament or a simplistic armament among adversaries. For that reason, we must develop the best of missile defense capability."