Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 62

T he U.S. Army is modernizing and cultivating specific echelons of air and missile defense (AMD) in response to evolving air and missile threats. According to Col. Robert Lyons, former director of the Department of the Army Military Operations Air Missile Defense, the projected threat force will be a sophisticated adversary consisting of multi-echeloned, asymmetric capabilities.1 Upgrades and unit expansions in Army high-to-medium-altitude air defense (HIMAD) systems, such as Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, defend critical assets and help the United States and its allies maintain a strategic advantage around the world; these assets—for the purposes of this paper, called static-engagement-AMD—enable AMD from stationary locations.2 However, the Army prioritizes static-engagement-AMD assets at the expense of aggressive maneuver tempo, resulting in an unbalanced execution of the Army’s AMD strategy. For example, Army air defense artillery (ADA) includes fifteen Patriot battalions, which provide static-engagement-AMD, but only four active Avenger batteries and seven Army National Guard Avenger battalions, as of August 2015. These eleven Avenger units are the air defense’s only remaining nonstatic-engagement-AMD formations.3 This situation reflects a gap in the force’s protective capabilities, through degraded AMD support of maneuver. The brigade combat team (BCT) is designed for operations encompassing the entire range of military operations; it is the primary close-combat force of the U.S Army.4 However, no AMD engagement assets are organic to the BCT, and this limits effectiveness because it limits integration. Maj. Gen. John G. Rossi, commanding general of the United States Army Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, offered a viable perspective during an Association of the U.S. Army “Transform the AMD Force” panel in February 2015. According to Army reporter David Vergun, Rossi explained that AMD elements should improve communication with other forces, including BCTs, because “there are threats out there not just to combatant commanders; it’s also BCTs saying we need you back in the game.”5 The Army’s AMD strategy emphasizes the development of static-engagement-AMD assets and formations, but the solution to bridging the growing gap between aerial threat exposure and air defense 56 for maneuver forces is to modernize, grow, and integrate nonstatic-engagement-AMD assets, such as the Avenger, into the BCT. Air Defense and Aggressive Maneuver Tempo Short-range air defense protects units against threats such as unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), rotary-wing aircraft, fixed-wing aircraft, and cruise missiles. Traditionally, forces have accomplished short-range air defense through nonstatic-engagement-AMD. Some HIMAD assets also can defend against these kinds of threats, but their capability to support an aggressive maneuver tempo—through expedited tactical mobility and shooting on the move—is nonexistent. Army forces need AMD assets that help them maneuver faster than their enemies. According to Army Doctrine Reference Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations, “during operations dominated by combined arms maneuver, commanders normally seek to maintain a higher tempo than the enemy does; a rapid tempo can overwhelm an enemy’s ability to counter friendly actions. It is the key to achieving a temporal advantage during combined arms maneuver.”6 HIMAD weapon systems are static-engagement-AMD assets with extensive time requirements for emplacement. Maneuver commanders who depend on these assets need to assume risk in protection or initiative when operating outside the narrow protection zone they provide. In addition, HIMAD weapon systems cannot identify, track, or engage targets without radar radiating into the operational area. In comparison, Avengers are enhanced by radar rather than reliant on it. Their operators can manually engage targets through visual acquisition (line of sight) or remotely through automated radar targeting. The Avenger’s line-of-sight capability complements its ability to shoot on the move and enables the system to function throughout the maneuver area of operations. Developed in the 1990s, the Avenger is a lightweight, shoot-on-the-move, rocket-launcher system that provides critical short-range nonstatic-engagement-AMD. Similarly, the Army developed the Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle, or Linebacker, to accompany its mechanized formations. According to Bradley manufacturer Raytheon, the “Stinger maintains a greater November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW