Act Now to Advance Air and Missile Defense

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan has warned that the U.S. has come to take military superiority for granted, as a kind of birthright. Perhaps no aspect of military superiority has been taken for granted in the post-Cold War period more than air superiority.

With the return of great-power competition and the renewed need to defend forces from aerial attack, that must change. In the October 2017 announcement of the Army’s six-part modernization strategy, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley introduced long-range fires and other efforts to improve lethality. He added, “None of this is going to matter if you’re dead. And that’s why you need air defense.”

In March, the Army released a strategy for the future of air and missile defense in a new era of strategic competition, the first such update since 2012. The vision of “Army Air and Missile Defense 2018” is of “a flexible, agile, and integrated [air and missile defense] force capable of executing multi-domain operations and defending the homeland, regional joint and coalition forces, and critical assets in support of unified land operations.” The framework is nested with the National Defense Strategy, the Missile Defense Review, the Army Strategy and recent Joint Staff publications on countering air and missile threats.

Consistent with the threat and the new strategic context, the air and missile defense strategy advocates improvements relating to capability, capacity, training and force readiness, the maintenance of forward presence, and the building of partner capacity. Advancement in each of these areas will require significant programmatic, operational and organizational changes.

Read the full ARMY Magazine article.

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Tom Karako, "Act Now to Advance Air and Missile Defense," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, June 13, 2019, last modified April 27, 2021,