The 24th Annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium, which took place in Huntsville, Alabama, from Aug. 10 to Aug. 12., brought together numerous U.S. government and private-industry stakeholders to engage on topics related to present and emerging capabilities and threats in space and integrated air and missile defense.
Speakers at the event included senior officials from Army Futures Command, who elaborated on the importance of improving operational connectedness among the Services and across multiple domains, including those of air and space.
Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commanding general of Army Futures Command, shared how command-led initiatives such as Project Convergence – a campaign of learning designed to advance and integrate the Army’s contributions to the Joint Force – are enabling the Army to assess quickly and effectively what new technologies, tools and processes will prove most advantageous in future large-scale combat scenarios.
Exercises conducted regularly as part of Project Convergence additionally serve to align battlefield communications and technologies from multiple military departments and agencies as part of the Army’s objective of achieving Multi-Domain Operations by 2028.
“The end result of Project Convergence really is to inform, and that is to inform the Joint warfighting concept; to inform the four functional concepts; to inform how the Army is going to organize, and how the Army is going to fight,” Richardson explained.
Richardson added that Project Convergence 21 – a live, six-week exercise scheduled to take place at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in October and November – will include the participation of approximately 6,000 to 7,000 Joint military personnel, including more than 900 data collectors, and 74 industry partners. During the exercise, participants will test new equipment and the synchronization of advanced sensor-to-shooter systems.
“It’s all about Joint interoperability as we go forward,” Richardson said. He also underscored the vital importance of tech industry partnerships in furthering Army and Joint Force modernization.
Brig. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the command’s Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team, and Darryl Youngman, deputy director of the command’s Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, also offered thoughts on the urgency of amplifying Army and Joint Force readiness and deterrence measures during a panel on space and missile defense acquisitions.
Rafferty described Project Convergence as an opportunity to “begin to figure out how we’re going to fight in the future against an adversary that’s going to be incredibly challenging, on a scale that’s hard for us to imagine right now.” He also noted that Project Convergence’s iterative prototyping and Soldier-centered approach allow for critical refinement of requirement documents “so that we don’t let that become the obstacle to putting capability in the field.”
Youngman highlighted that the Army is pursuing sophisticated technology solutions to address “the continual need to keep pace with the always advancing and emerging threat” while simultaneously working to identify “technologies that can help us reduce the cost of air defense, so we can afford more.”
The symposium, which was livestreamed to enable participation from around the country, included speakers from the Army, the Missile Defense Agency, NASA, Northern Command, Space Command, the Space Development Agency, Strategic Command, think tanks and the commercial defense industry.
The event was sponsored by the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association, the Huntsville Chapter of the Air Defense Artillery Association and the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association.