Since World War II, missiles have become game-changing threats against our warfighters. As guidance systems, payload and rocket technology have improved, so has the lethality and effectiveness of such long-range attacks. At the same time, these missiles have become easier to develop and obtain — today over 30 countries and a growing number of non-state actors have some type of ballistic or cruise missile capability. These factors have elevated the importance of long-range ballistic missile defense for the U.S., and established the need for a comprehensive approach to missile defense that includes the integration of functional capabilities at the technical, planning, policy and mission support levels.
Functional capabilities provide a multitude of advantages pre- and post-launch: they can prevent a launch from occurring, help track a missile in-flight and aid in determining attribution and threat assessment. To be most effective, however, these systems must be integrated. Systems that share data enable greater efficiency in assessing tactical situations, determining follow-up actions and empowering advanced computing and artificial intelligence that help warfighters make decisions. The Department of Defense (DoD) has long dreamed of a single, networked Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) system for all branches of the military, but a long-term strategy for integration should not stop there.
Partnering with and incorporating allied systems, and co-developing systems that are able to integrate with foreign partners, could potentially be a force multiplier for missile defense. Doing so, however, will require a firm understanding of integration issues and the IAMD mission area. New systems will need to be individualized for the specific needs and goals of different departments or allies, but also able to share data.
DoD staff will also need to effectively communicate the benefits of an integrated missile defense system, and the dangers of working without one. Empowering policy makers with the unified perspective, constructive analysis and the IAMD expertise they need to approach and address these challenges will be key in securing the resources necessary to develop and maintain the training, logistics and force structure of a long-term IAMD solution.
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