REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – The leader of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command explained to a virtual audience at the 23rd annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium that the command ensures space and missile defense for the nation.
Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, USASMDC commanding general and commander of Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, told those tuned in Aug. 4 that the command supports national defense through Army space and air and missile defense, which directly corresponds with the symposium’s theme of “Integration of Space and Missile Defense Capabilities Across All Domains.”
This year was the first time the symposium delivered government and industry updates for the space and missile defense community virtually due to health concerns.
“It’s a real pleasure to join you for this year’s virtual SMD Symposium,” Karbler said. “With so many pressing issues competing for our attention these days, it’s nice to have this opportunity to talk about integration. And if we are to succeed in this era of great power competition, it’s also a necessity.
“The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command serves as the Army’s lead for space, missile defense, and high altitude efforts,” he added. “We organize, train and equip the Army’s space and global ballistic missile defense forces, and we serve as the Army’s force modernization proponent for space, global ballistic missile defense, and high-altitude forces and capabilities. Because of that expertise, SMDC supports three combatant commands: U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Space Command.”
Karbler said space capabilities including missile warning; satellite communications; situational awareness; friendly force tracking; and positioning, navigation, and timing are critical to Soldiers’ ability to plan, communicate, navigate, maneuver, maintain situational awareness, target and engage the enemy, provide missile warning, and protect and sustain forces.
“The Army is the largest user of space capabilities in the Department of Defense, and it leverages those capabilities to dominate land operations at echelon, from competition to conflict,” Karbler said. “‘Shoot, move, communicate’ is a common mantra that’s been around the Army for longer than my 33 years. Today’s and tomorrow’s technologies, particularly those that are space enabled, will allow us to ‘shoot, move, and communicate’ faster, at greater distance, with more precision, in a challenging and complex operating environment.
“For us to achieve our vision of an all-domain capable joint force within the decade, we need to get these capabilities in the hands of our warfighters,” he added. “We need full-spectrum Soldiers who have been trained to recognize when they are in a denied, degraded and disrupted space operational environment. And these Soldiers need to be integrated at every echelon. While I recognize that the U.S. Space Command area of responsibility begins at 100km in altitude, Army space both starts and ends on the ground, and on the ground is where wars are won and lost.”
Karbler said it is essential for the Army’s integrated air and missile defense efforts to integrate detection systems, sensors and weapons systems so that they can communicate interchangeably and share data automatically when and where needed.
“That is the only way we can truly see the full picture of the threat environment and optimize our weapon systems,” Karbler said. “Currently, however, our systems are disaggregated. And while they are interoperable, they are not integrated. They can’t speak to each other. I want them to finish each other’s sentence. And that’s where the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense program comes in.”
He added that the AIAMD program supports theater, corps, divisional and counter-anti access/area denial missions by integrating sensors, shooters and fire control capabilities into a single open architecture via the IAMD Battle Command System, or IBCS.
“With IBCS, we can pair the best shooter with the best network of Army and joint sensors, and then mix effectors such as launchers and interceptors in a layered and integrated fashion,” Karbler said.
Before finishing, Karbler defined what is at the heart of all of these efforts: the people.
“We don’t man equipment, we equip people,” Karbler said. “And none of what we do would be possible without our men and women in uniform putting their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. This is especially true today, in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended our way of life.
“Our space and missile defense Soldiers are working hard, day in and day out, to complete their no-fail mission despite all of the new challenges that COVID-19 has introduced,” he added. “And throughout it all, they have continued to maintain the highest level of readiness. I could not be prouder of, and more grateful to, them and their families.”