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What’s missing from US missile defense? Pentagon aims to find out

The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. (Dreamstime/TNS)

What’s missing from the U.S. military’s missile defense is a sense of how to build and integrate missile defense tools and capabilities across the services, Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday.

The military services are doing “the best they can” to make sure they are prepared to defend against all manner of incoming missiles and similar threats but, in the era of advanced hypersonics and new drones, that’ s not good enough. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council, or JROC, which is headed by Hyten and other service vice chiefs, has set the goal of integrating those efforts as its next major priority.

“Go out and read the current requirements from the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for integrated air and missile defense, and actually look at the portfolio of integrated air and missile defense and see where the JROC has identified gaps and capabilities from looking at integrated air and missile defense. You’ll find out that we have not,” done any work to identify them, Hyten told the audience at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

Because of that lack of joint planning and requirement writing, the services have basically been on their own, said Hyten. So they’ve each developed their own missile defense procedures and capabilities. But the Defense Department is now moving forward with a broad, multi-year vision to better integrate all of its weapons, vehicles, satellites, and troops in one massive network dubbed Joint All-Domain Command and Control.

The Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has recently completed its strategy document for JADC2. They’ll brief industry in the coming months, Hyten said. With the strategy document now complete, the JROC can assess gaps in the military’s overall missile defense capabilities.

“We never gave the overarching structure that we have to plug into. And we have to do that. So we’re going to do that. And we’re going to do this capability gap assessment of everything in that [missile defense] portfolio,” he said.

With all of the services on board with an integrated missile defense strategy, the military will be in a better position to plan how to conduct offensive operations. That, Hyten said, will hopefully convince adversaries not to attempt their own offensive action.

“From an adversary’s perspective, deterrence comes from the integration of all capabilities,” he said.

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