We need more and more multilateral cooperation; (...) to pool and share resources in joint efforts.”
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, July 2, 2014

“The DIVARTY commander is the FSCOORD for the division. Specifically the DIVARTY coordinates with higher echelons for joint and multinational Fires assets to enhance the capabilities of the division,” according to the 2014 White Paper for the Division Artillery. This article reflects about the challenges and solutions in the big picture of Combined Integration, with NATO and EU coalition partners, exemplified on the future capability of the Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense (AIAMD).

Relief & Withdraw

Twenty-five years ago all seemed to be going well in Europe. After the iron curtain fell the uneasy feeling of peace and relying on fighting the Cold War, somehow turned into real peace. This immediately applied for most people on the continent, and freedom, peace plus democracy, finally prevailed throughout the new ‘old world.’ Most allied troops were withdrawn from Germany and Europe.

“Obviously after the end of the Cold War and the 20 or 25 years of reduced tensions in Europe, it's no wonder and no surprise that defense budgets have been declining,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary general. No longer in the focal point of mass destruction, European countries started to focus on themselves. They took a comfortable turn inward, promoting their political maturity and economic prosperity. Military strength was still considered necessary but lost its status as the number one provider of life insurance in the region. Many Europeans referred to NATO in the familiar, ‘mean old dinosaur role,’ as a matter of preference for diplomacy or refocused their constituents on issues at the continent’s edges or even those occurring far away from European soil.

Occasionally the media tried to breathe new life into the outdated dinosaur mindset, but this trend steadily declined. In ‘Closing the capability gap,’ a 2002 NATO review article by James Appathurai, he writes “Today [in 2002], the situation is very different. At the practical level, NATO forces are working together in robust, complex and difficult missions, but the U.S. lead in military technology makes working together difficult for deployed forces.” But somehow, down there in the mud zone, they were still making it happen…as always.

Another 10 years later, with the drawdown from Afghanistan and Iraq, and budget reductions of the Western states… we were suddenly once again facing the volatile Russian bear, as many of us thought it had become extinct, to our dismay it was merely hibernating. Furthermore not only terrorizing states but also state-sponsored terrorists with dramatically increasing military capabilities are a serious growing issue to our societies.

Several smaller conflicts worldwide multiply an infectious, poisoning climate, which lays the foundation for radical perceptions and actions disseminated by organizations akin to al-Qaeda.

“Between 2009 to 2011, al-Qaeda activities have been registered in 19 African nations and regions,” according to Hans Krech in his 2011 article, “The growing Influence of al-Qaeda on the African Continent. Dennis P. Merklinghaus echoed this, in his 2014 Military Technology (issue 7) article, [It] “has never been stronger, (…) ramping up attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly against NATO allies and interests.”

Continuously repeated throughout the decades by the United States, now history imposingly emphasizes the fact, that NATO’s demand for interoperability and integration, “burden-sharing and capabilities is mandatory - not elective,” said Chuck Hagel at the Feb. 26, 2014 Defense minister’s meeting held at NATO headquarters. Meanwhile European coalition partners continued to redeem their NATO commitments, without overstressing their political and fiscal constraints and restraints, including the respective public opinion of their countries. Can and will Europe answer the call?

Opportunities & Commitments

Indeed. According to an article by Michael Shurkin, “Allied Fronts,” he writes, “The Europeans, in effect, are well in advance of the Americans in weighing competing priorities in light of what they assess to be the future face of war, making their judgments useful points of reference for U.S. and NATO planners grappling with their own cuts.” Jan Techau pointed out at the June 17, 2014 Atlantic Council that already by 2013, “even before the Ukraine crisis made such steps necessary, Germany had contributed to NATO's planning for the post-Afghanistan period by proposing a ‘framework nations concept.’”

Sept. 5, 2014, at the NATO’s summit in Newport, UK the Wales Summit Declaration was endorsed. “To implement this concept, (…) a group of 10 Allies, facilitated by Germany as a framework nation and focusing on capability development, have, through a joint letter, committed to working systematically together, deepening and intensifying their cooperation in the long term, to create, in various configurations, a number of multinational projects to address alliance priority areas across a broad spectrum of capabilities.”

One of the allied priorities is the capability to deliver combined Fires from land, air, and sea. For the U.S. Army the DIVARTY commander will be in charge to coordinate such an attempt regarding any fire distribution within the division area in support of the maneuver forces.

According to this concept the U.S. Army is promoting the development of the Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense (AIAMD) system, which will be managed the Integrated Battle Management System (IBCS). A future facing, holistic C4I2 network with an open architecture - basically the full nine yards. The European partners claim roughly the same features for their future AMD systems, though on a smaller scale. In general European countries are starting to lean tentatively more toward defense companies and consortia with strong anchor points in Europe spending their money in a more tangible realm. “On 14 January 2014, Diehl Defence successfully demonstrated its Ground Based Air Defence System IRIS-T SLM in the presence of international experts and military representatives from 16 nations at the Overberg Test Range in South Africa,” according to “Industrial Focus,” in issue three of Military Technology. Yes, we are also talking about the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) and its future capabilities and options (i.e. most likely hoping for the integration of lower cost missiles).

Therefore, the question of interoperability and integration has become a huge transatlantic challenge to tackle in the very near future. Not specifically because of the Turkish idea of buying an air defense system from China, there are others as well. But in fact, we will all rely on the mutual support amongst NATO partner nations.

Training and Doctrine Command Pam 525-3-4, states “Additionally, complementary and reinforcing joint and multinational capabilities provide redundancy to mitigate environmental and operational restrictions, resource shortfalls, as well as gaps in coverage from a particular asset.” There is good news abound however; according to the given military requirements all defense-related companies are under constraint to use appropriate standards, which allow systems to talk to each other. The exchange of data will be capable of providing connectivity amongst U.S. and European future AMD forces in a common operational environment. How can this be exploited?

Concepts & Capabilities

The giant technological and organizational leap of AIAMD suggests leaving the classic military structure of an AMD unit behind, and instead building up a force of elements. These elements i.e. sensors (e.g. radar) and effectors (e.g. shooters), will be connected via internal data links. Command and control will be provided with the IBCS as introduced above.

These changes would lead one to deduce that the emplacement or re-emplacement of single elements can be conducted much quicker than the movement of whole units. Thus the great advantages in comparison to the ‘classic unit format’ are higher mobility, higher flexibility and less time to build-up or rearrange the AMD-protection shield in theater to provide freedom of movement & action to the supported maneuver forces. However, according to the May 2014 Torchbearer National Security Report, it still applies that “these Army IAMD forces must be fully interoperable with the joint and coalition kill chain,” to provide the exact fire support coordinated by DIVARTY.

AIAMD with single AMD elements managed by IBCS. Illustration courtesy LTC Karsten F. Schoenau

While conducting such a ‘high speed’ operation, infrastructure in terms of ports of disembarkation (PODs), airports of disembarkation (APODs), military and civilian headquarters or industrial areas of critical purpose will appear to be in need of protection.

In consequence ‘high value’ assets, needed by DIVARTY for the support and protection of highly mobile forces will be condemned to be left behind with a stationary task. This being said: Is there potential for true interoperability and integration in Europe?

The “(…) qualitative differences related to culture, military doctrine, and politics distinguish the (NATO) allies arguably more than do their objective differences (in force structure, equipment, and manning levels),” according to Shukin. It remains unlikely that most of the European nations will prepare their AMD forces for a 21st Century version of Blitzkrieg. Politically and fiscally they will certainly not compete in this match.

Nevertheless, there are European capabilities, already fielded or under development, which could easily step into the breach and set free the required assets for DIVARTY. Most capabilities, unfortunately, have been developed separately by European countries with the main intent to be used on a battlefield at their particular doorsteps. Interoperability or integration therefore was not listed on their requirement checklists in the first place.

Germany, as designated ADA-framework nation already announced ability and willingness to fulfill this task. The Surface to Air Missile Operations Centre (SAMOC) is a comprehensive air defense management system specifically designed for joint and combined operations within a multiservice and multinational environment.” According to the May 2014 Torchbearer National Security Report, already in its current version (with the intent to be further developed), the “SAMOC is a key system which integrates and fuses” most of the European “Air Defense Command & Control systems, sensors and weapon systems in a networked environment into a single ‘System of System.’”

AIAMD with single AMD elements managed by IBCS, now integrated with European AMD. Illustration courtesy LTC Karsten F. Schoenau

Connecting this combined European AMD system with AIAMD would provide the option of tasking stationary protection to a variety of coalition ADA capabilities, while AIAMD could be used for the task it was originally developed. All combined ADA forces linked within a network of mutual support-sharing necessary ADA data and contribute to as well as benefit from air & ground situation awareness. This connectivity will boost feasible Air Defense options and appear as a catalyst to the available courses of action for the commanders in charge of maneuver forces. After all, isn’t it the top priority of Air Defense to protect these high value assets?

Challenge & Benefit

Combined integration of AIAMD and European AMD will undoubtedly result in better overall coverage and higher level of protection in theater, additionally enabling a more effective and efficient use of available forces to the coalition. Continuous lack of critical capabilities usually “creates physical gaps and vulnerabilities in the joint force protection scheme and increases overall costs. (…) Integration of coalition capabilities into the joint kill chain is key to offsetting the threat’s capacity imbalance,” according to the May 2014, Torchbearer National Security Report.

One could argue that the greater responsibility will still fall on the shoulders of the U.S. Army, but this perspective appears to be incorrect. Measuring the workload it seems to be true however, by calculating the risks taken in present-day conflicts will prove otherwise. For example: “Israel’s citizens are regularly threatened by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Hamas and other terrorist organizations launch mortars, rockets and missiles towards Israelis cities,” according to the Israel Defense Forces. Even the worst trained opponent will eventually figure out how to hit a large static target. Moreover this appears to be true since terror directed against civilians appears more frequently as a tactic of choice in every modern conflict.

Therefore, a mission-tailored mixture of the entire AMD variety, coalition partners can bring to the table, an ideal setting to address the challenges of future battlefields which will surely include also threats of unmanned aerial systems and hypersonic cruise missiles. Combined integration of our united capabilities will reinforce our strengths and cover pervasive weaknesses. Therefore, joint and combined integration of evolving AMD capabilities will be the key to our success in future operations and one of the cornerstones for DIVARTY.

Spearheading this attempt, the Joint and Combined Directorate relationship implemented as soon as possible will unquestionably support and accelerate a positive final outcome. With that said we should be prepared to use all available resources, gather ideas and exchange thoughts and perceptions throughout the entire Fires community to make such an effort our reality. A network-based exploitation of progress in a united effort may help to generate synergetic effects, leading to unprecedented advantages on the battlefield. The joint and Combined Integration Directorate is the ultimate institution at the Fires Center of Excellence and ready to take on this challenge. Do you speak DOTMLPF? Contribute your expertise, ideas and skills!

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