Thursday, July 15, 2010

Defense: Missile Defense Advocacy claims Iranian threat overwhelms U.S. Missile Defense Systems

Source: Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

Riki Ellison, Chairman and Founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), attended a conference in Manama, Bahrain on Iran's Ballistic missile capabilities and Russian cooperation with the United States, where Ellison was invited to speak as a panel participant. During his stay in Bahrain, Ellison also visited the U.S. Air Defense Artillery Battalions currently stationed there. These troop visits are part of a group of base visits that Ellison has been doing in different parts of the country, where he is meeting members of the military directly involved with missile defense. Ellison is one of the top lay experts in the field of missile defense in the country. His comments regarding his visit are outlined below:

"In the stark barren desert, where temperatures reach upwards of 120 degrees, with spiraling winds that stir the sand and dirt into a thick smog and the oppressing humidity that rises from the nearby Persian Gulf, are two deployed U.S. Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Battalions operating Patriot Air and missile defense systems. These ADA Battalions are spread across four Persian Gulf countries; Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are more than 800 U.S. army soldiers, approximately 100 per Patriot battery, who sacrifice a year of their lives in these extreme conditions far from home.

"The soldiers are sequestered in makeshift temporary camps in desolate surroundings without access to the local communities or cities of their host countries. Each battalion is made up of four batteries consisting of six launchers, two radars, a command and control unit, independent communication hub and a portable power generator. Stationed in Kuwait and Qatar are ADA Battalions from the 11th ADA brigade out of Fort Bliss, Texas while ADA Battalions from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Bragg, North Carolina are in rotation in Bahrain and the UAE.

"These two deployed ADA Battalions have the critical mission and responsibility of protecting the airspace surrounding the majority of deployed, land-based U.S. personnel, forces and assets in the Persian Gulf, excluding Iraq. This includes thousands of U.S. armed service men and women as well as tens of billions of dollars of U.S. assets located there. In addition, this protection overlaps the host country's cities, military sites and populations located nearby and around the U.S. bases.

"The Iranian ballistic missile threat, both capability and intent as recognized by U.S. Central Command, consists of over a thousand deployed missiles with the ability to release multiple munitions to the Persian Gulf region. The size and scope of this threat drives the need for missile defense protection to be a top priority. The Iranian ballistic missiles are located as close as 100 miles from threatened areas; only a few short minutes of missile flight time away.

"There are currently four basic types of deployed Iranian Ballistic Missiles: Shahab, Sajjil, CSS-8 and the M11. These ballistic missiles have been built on transferred technologies or were imported directly from Russia, North Korea and China. Most of the currently deployed Iranian ballistic missiles that face U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf states are short-range, single-staged and liquid-fueled.

"There are eight major concerns of the U.S. missile defense systems, which are vastly outnumbered by Iranian missiles, in the Persian Gulf that need to be addressed in order to perform their critical mission:

* Certification and deployment of THAAD systems in the Persian Gulf, providing the capability to intercept Iranian munitions in space rather than in altitude; with a higher chance of debris fallout.
* Increasing Aegis Ballistic missile defense capability to handle more engaged missiles then currently capable.
* Deployment of the AN/TPY-2 Forward Based X-Band Radar in Bahrain, supplying more radar to all deployed systems for defense against potential salvo rounds from Iran.
* Fully integrated and interoperable air picture for all missile defense systems in the region, eventually bringing in the Persian Gulf states and their inventories.
* Increase U.S. Army maintenance personnel and spare parts for deployed ADA Battalions; personnel and parts are currently split over two countries making the systems less then fully reliable.
* Doubling the PAC-3 missile inventory on the eight deployed PAC-3 launchers, as they are currently at half capacity.
* Increasing the number of PAC-3 launchers in each of the eight deployed Patriot batteries; they are currently at one PAC-3 launcher per battery.
* Increased Force Protection around the deployed Patriot sites; some sites are completely exposed and vulnerable to local intersections and potential terrorist activities."