It was a simple question from a Nevada congressman to the director of the Missile Defense Agency:
“Am I protected?”
“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.