Changes in Tech, Strategy Drive Missile Defense > US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE – Department of Defense

Changes to technologies, strategy and capabilities make a good case for closer cooperation among the combatant commands, the services and allies in regard to missile defense, military officers charged with this crucial mission said.

At yesterday’s virtual conference sponsored by the Missile Defense Advocacy Association, the idea that the return of great power competition has shifted the missions of missile defense was the unifying theme.

China and Russia are investing heavily in building new missile capabilities in everything from hypersonics to cruise missiles to various ranges of ballistic missiles. But other nations — most notably Iran and North Korea — remain threats, too, and missile defense capabilities from afloat, on the ground or in space must cover that total range, the conferees said.

In the 1980s, critics derided missile defense as a “Star Wars” fiction. That fiction, if it ever was, is now more of a reality than ever.

“[Missile defense] is about just protecting this country,” said Navy Vice Adm. Jon Hill, the director of the Missile Defense Agency. “It is about layered defense … to protect the country or deployed forces and our allies.”

While the agency works on the capabilities, the combatant commands must field and use them. Whether it is Aegis destroyers in the East China Sea or Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia or soldiers manning the missile fields of Alaska, the problem set is constant: “We’ve got to be able to sense it, got to be able to see it, got to attribute it, and