Posts

MDA Director: We Can Sleep Knowing We are Protected

It was a simple question from a Nevada congressman to the director of the Missile Defense Agency:

“Am I protected?”

“Yes.”

Vice Adm. Jon Hill: “We’re going to continue to make things hard for our adversaries.” (Photo/Eric Schultz)

“I gave that answer because I have the utmost confidence in those soldiers sitting at the console,” MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said Thursday at the 22nd Space & Missile Defense Symposium.

Hill spoke before a packed and attentive Von Braun Center ballroom audience on the final day of the annual event. It was a record-setting event with more than 3,500 people attending the three-day symposium which had nearly 200 exhibits and some 1,400 private exhibitors and 605 government exhibitors.

The director said the a modern-day threats are much more complex than in the past and the United States must be ready for the ever-changing, constant challenges.

“For me, it always starts with the threat,” Hill said. “What’s really changed has been the advancement of the threats.

“Our adversaries are figuring out ways to stress our systems and we’re figuring out ways to stress theirs. We’re going to continue to make things hard for our adversaries.”

While the threats are constant and complex, Hill said he has spoken with Army Lt. Gen. Jim Dickinson, commanding general of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command; and Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), about developing means to overcome the threats without overburdening the personnel.

“The more complex things become, that you put before the eyes of the soldiers and sailors, it’s harder for them to execute,” he said.

In effect, keeping things simple instead of causing the personnel to spend time learning and relearning, forcing them to divert their attention from the mission.

Hill also touched on our international relationships as key to our security.

With NATO and the U.S. having installations around the world, it provides the United States with something Russia, China, Iran and North Korea don’t have – “partnerships,” he said.

“It’s what our adversaries do not have; they don’t have partnerships. That gives us an advantage.”

Overall, Hill said, the mission of the Missile Defense Agency is “a great mission.”

“I call it a noble mission,” he said. “It’s very motivating to defend our troops, our allies and friends.

“I feel great about where we are today.”

Video below: The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, U.S. Northern Command, and elements of the U.S. Air Force Space Command’s 30th, 50th, and 460th Space Wings, conducted a successful test March 25 against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) class target.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Final Frontier’ is a ‘Warfighting Domain’

Science fiction met science reality Monday in the Rocket City.

And no punches were pulled when it came to discussing national defense at the 22nd Space & Missile Defense Symposium. The symposium runs through Thursday at the Von Braun Center downtown.

“It’s a very crowded environment,” said Army Lt. Gen. Jim Dickinson, commanding general of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. It is the mission of the SMDC to “defeat, penetrate and disintegrate” our adversaries’ levels of defense and “operate and dominate a combative” space environment.

Dickinson said the Army is the largest user of space of the military branches and has some 3,000 soldiers trained. The Army’s involvement dates to the 1950s with the Redstone rocket and the launch of the Explorer I satellite in 1958 began its space involvement.

And, as we know, technology has traveled at warp speed over the last 60 years.

Maj. Gen. Rick Evans addresses the 22nd Missile & Space Defense Symposium. (Photo by Steve Babin)

“We have become increasingly reliable on space and cyber,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Evans, assistant to the commander, U.S. Strategic Command. “Space and cyber are vital to our defense.

“We must adapt to new threats and stay ahead of our adversaries.”

To counter those threats, President Trump directed the U.S. Space Command be re-established as a full military branch. But, Evans said, that doesn’t mean “SAC will be out of the space business.”

And, the Army and Air Force still have their own space commands.

The Army’s 1st Space Brigade with headquarters in Colorado Springs supports joint forces and their critical dependence on space capabilities. The Air Force Space Command is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

“Space is a warfighting domain,” he said. “We need those commands. Almost everything we do is tied to space in some way.”

The “crowded environment” in space includes threats from Russia and China, as well as “new threats” from the likes of North Korea and Iran through missiles, satellites and directed-energy (laser) weapons.

Evans said the U.S. must be prepared to answer the challenge by focusing on agility and speed.

“We need resilient, redundant capability,” he said. “We need a rapid, reconstituting capability.

“We can’t wait five years to replace a satellite.”