U.S. Lacking in Missile Defense Capabilities

U.S. Lacking in Missile Defense Capabilities

Photo by: DoD

A lack of missile defense and anti-aircraft capabilities could put Army units and installations at risk in a future large-scale conflict, experts say.

Recent war games show the U.S. “usually fails to achieve our objective of preventing aggression by the adversary,” RAND Corp. analyst David Ochmanek said during a March 7 panel discussion at the Center for a New American Security.

The Association of the U.S. Army will host a Hot Topic forum on Army Air and Missile Defense on Tuesday, March 12. For more information, visit www.ausa.org/events/hot-topic-air-and-missile-defense.

The National Defense Strategy defines the Pentagon’s top priority as competition and potential conflict with China and Russia and right now, the U.S. military does not have air superiority over the battlespace, Ochmanek said. 

In addition to armored and fires brigades, “you need short-range air defenses for Army bases,” he said. This has been identified as a capability gap in recent years, he said.

“The U.S. Army has the responsibility for base defense, and if we went to war in Europe, there would be one Patriot battery moving. And that’s it,” said former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, referring to an air defense system used by the Army. 

“We have 58 brigade combat teams, but we don’t have anything to protect our bases with,” Work said.

In the 1990s, the U.S. was pursuing more capabilities related to large-state warfare, but that focus changed after 9/11, Work said.

“Now, we have large-state competitors who can match our scale, and we’ve never gone up against an adversary with the same capabilities,” he said.

“Until we get a very significant breakthrough in the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of active defenses against enemy missiles, we’re going to have to live in that world,” Ochmanek said.