ARLINGTON, Virginia -- The Army's senior air defender explained how integrated air and missile defense is vital to the nation's defense capability for the foreseeable future to a captivated audience.

Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, addressed the Association of the U.S. Army's Hot Topic: Army Air and Missile Defense symposium with the theme "Ensuring Readiness Today and Building Greater Capabilities for the Future," at the General Gordon R. Sullivan Conference and Event Center in Arlington, Virginia, Feb. 28.

"Air and missile defense is one of the Army's top modernization priorities, and enhancing our layered missile defense is specifically called out in the National Security Strategy," Dickinson said. "Yet, our AMD force is a low density, high demand resource. We are globally deployed and regionally engaged as a key strategic enabler for the Joint Force and the Nation, and we're facing some tough challenges.

Dickinson said the range of threats keeps expanding and AMD systems will encounter more unmanned systems, more complex electronic, cyber, and directed energy capabilities, and other emerging threats such as hypersonic weapons in the future. He added that America is facing a changing operational environment where U.S. supremacy is increasingly contested in all domains.

"Building capabilities to match today's threats is insufficient to tomorrow's threats," Dickinson said. "We need to aggressively leverage industry partners and others to identify and develop 'leap ahead' capabilities.

"At the heart of our force are our Soldiers," he added. "It is imperative that we identify how to develop human capital and build resiliency and readiness into the future force."

He also explained how the Army AMD strategy provides a framework for achieving the AMD vision and strategic ends of defending the homeland, defending the force, protecting critical assets and assuring access for the nation's forces.

"As you participate in the discussions and challenge the panels with questions, I ask you to keep in mind all of our air and missile defense Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who perform their mission 24 / 7 / 365, around the globe, protecting U.S. forces and engaging with our allies, always prepared to answer the Nation's call," Dickinson said.

The symposium provided an opportunity for senior leaders from industry and the military to interact and share their thoughts on the future of the Army's role in Integrated Air and Missile Defense, or IAMD. It also provided insights into Army IAMD force modernization requirements and resources as well as Army Warfighter challenges.

"This is the first of AUSA's Hot Topics for 2018. We will do a number of these throughout the year but I think it is important that the first one is focused on Integrated Air and Missile Defense," said retired Gen. Carter F. Ham, AUSA president and chief executive officer. "Air and missile defense has been and will continue to be a core capability of the United States Army. The Army provides this capability to the joint force, as well as to our allied and coalition partners.

"The purpose of today's event is simple -- to look ahead," Ham added. "The Army's role in integrated air and missile defense operations is going to continue to be an indispensable component of strategic land power."