By Maj. James Compton, Air and Space Operations Center Detachment Deputy Officer-in-charge, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense CommandFebruary 6, 2017
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR - HICKAM, Hawaii - Within the Pacific Theater of Operations, the U.S. military works with many nations to help provide regional stability and security. One example of this is the work between the Japanese Self Defense Forces and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) over the last year. This cooperation has helped reinforce security in the region as the combined forces develop an integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) network as well as strengthen the U.S. partnership with Japan.
As the threat of hostile ballistic missile activity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region has grown, the U.S. and Japan have been working closely together to increase their ability to detect and counter missiles threatening friendly assets. The Japanese Air Defense Command (JADC) in conjunction with units subordinate to PACOM, U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT), and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), have been developing the means to synchronize ballistic missile defense (BMD) operations. These actions have included exercises, synchronization of operations on and around Japan, and developing multiple means of communication between the combined forces to increase situational awareness for both nations.
By synchronizing their missile defense planning and operations, the U.S. and Japan are working towards achieving a continual early warning and defense capability. This synchronization optimizes the ability to intercept hostile ballistic missiles. Planners have focused on developing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that both nations' forces can utilize in the event of increased ballistic missile activity. These TTPs include coordination between operational and tactical command and control (C2) agencies, early warning radars, Patriot units, and AEGIS ships to ensure the timely engagement of hostile missiles.
"Every year, we conduct a series of IAMD exercises with our Japanese counterparts, further refining and improving interoperability and our TTPs," shared Cmdr. Foster Righter, Senior Air Defense Officer, 613th Air and Space Operations Center (AOC).
To accomplish these plans and operations, numerous members from all branches of both nations' militaries have contributed their expertise. Experts in command and control, early warning radars, Naval BMD operations, and ground-based air defense systems such as Patriot have continuously worked to refine and improve how the two nations can work together. Recently the two nations have increased the amount of real-world operations conducted together, actively practicing the TTPs and interoperability that have been refined through exercises.
Major Chad Neibert, the AOC detachment officer-in-charge for the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and one of the lead planners for these bi-lateral operations explained, "These real world BMD missions allow us to defend forward and together while providing opportunities to integrate all domains and improve the innovations of our organizations."
The PACAF commander, as the area air defense commander (AADC), has overall responsibility for the U.S. military's air defense operations in the Pacific. As a result, the 613th AOC is the lead element for most of the planning between Japan and U.S. BMD planners.
"The IAMD interoperability that we have achieved with our Japanese counterparts shows our deep commitment to our closest regional allies," said Air Force Lt. Col. Sheldon Ressler, chief of integrated air and missile defense, 613th AOC.
The hard work of U.S. and Japan BMD forces and the commitment they share to the defense of our allies in the Pacific continues to lead to improvements in ballistic missile defense. Future operations and exercises will build on the current progress and lead to a more robust BMD capability in the region while strengthening our alliance with Japan.