European Phased Adaptive Approach & Integration of Maritime BMD
STRIKFORNATO, located in Oeiras, Portugal, is the Alliance’s only permanently on call joint maritime Battle Force. STRIKFORNATO’s unique value to the Alliance is its service as the only integration mechanism for US Navy and Marine Corps combat power. Directly under Operational Command of Supreme AlliedCommander Europe (SACEUR), STRIKFORNATO is ready to deploy at five days notice. STRIKFORNATO is an experienced, three-star led (the Commander of STRIKFORNATO is dual-hatted as Commander, US SIXTH Fleet) Battle Force Staffof joint warriors that stand ready to command and integrate US Carrier or Expeditionary Strike Groups into a wider NATO Battle Force for the Alliance.
During the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, the Alliance identified the need for a more robust Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) to deal with the threat from the proliferation of short and medium range missiles. In support of Commander, NATO Air Command (AIRCOM), the headquarters responsible for NATO’s Ballistic Defense mission, and drawing on strong linkages with SIXTH Fleet and NATO Maritime Commands, STRIKFORNATO was recently tasked by SACEUR to execute Command and Control of NATO Maritime BMD units and help integrate this critical capability into NATO’s quiver.
By early 2016, STRIKFORNATO will achieve an Initial Operational Capability to coordinate the planning of NATO maritime BMD Forces into the overall NATO air defense plan and then operationally direct those forces in times of crisis. Concurrently, and in coordination with AIRCOM, Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), and the nations who provide or are developing maritime BMD capabilities, STRIKFORNATO is helping to deliver the Alliance’s initial operational capability by summer of 2016. We have already established a BMD cell manned with Allied Officers from the Netherlands and the United States but are looking to grow the cell’s capacity to reflect the nationalities of the nine other countries that make up STRIKFORNATO. This cell will facilitate the integration of national BMD forces to the strategic NATO BMD force by participating in Standing Defense Plan and CONOPS development, the European Training Campaign, to include weekly BMD training, and the European Alliance and STEADFAST Alliance Missile Defense Exercises. The personnel in this cell will be trained and certified as BMD Officers, integrated to other NATO BMD C2 nodes via our Joint Operations Center (JOC) or aboard USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC 20), and linked to afloat NATO BMD units via the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) architecture.
Protection of Europe from ballistic missile threats is an evolving and pressing interest for the Alliance. In 2007, President Bush formall proposed deploying a ground based mid-course defense element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System to protect against such threats. The need for an all-encompassing European strategy for BMD was furthered in September of 2009 when President Obama announced the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), cancelling the earlier proposed system. The EPAA plan called for a comprehensive, multiple system approach for regional ballistic missile defense of Europe and NATO countries, deployed in four phases (Phase 4 was subsequently cancelled), that is adaptable to the evolving security environment. The driving threats behind this layered defense are the growing ballistic missile capabilities on the southern flank to NATO.
Phase 1 of the EPAA focused on deploying US Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense ships, with SM-3 Block IA interceptors, to the Mediterranean/Southern European region, forward deployed AN/TPY-2 radar to provide cueing to the defense ships, and upgrades to Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) networks. This was first implemented in March 2011 when USS MONTEREY (CG61) deployed to the Mediterranean. Her deployment represented the first positioning of a ballistic missile defense ship in support of the then fledgling EPAA concept.
Additionally, an AN/TPY-2 was permanently deployed to a site in Turkey and is operated by the US Army under NATO control. These two elements represented the first operational BMD assets in the theater, with many more to come as the EPAA came to fruition.
Demonstrating commitment to NATO and European collective security and following the successes of MONTEREY and the AN/TPY-2 deployment, Spain agreed to host four permanent US Ballistic Missile Defense ships in Rota. This arm of the EPAA enabled the maximization of BMD operational flexibility throughout the Mediterranean by utilizing the only truly mobile interceptor platforms. The ships home-ported in Rota maintain a high operational tempo deployed throughout the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. While they remain US assets, they can be placed under NATO operational control when required due to threat conditions. In February of 2014, USS DONALD COOK (DDG 75) became the first ship to be home ported in Rota. Since then, USS ROSS (DDG 71), USS PORTER (DDG 78), and USS CARNEY (DDG 64) have arrived in Rota and EPAA Phase 1 is complete. In addition to providing a capable and multi-layered defense against ballistic missile threats, the four forward deployed DDGs have increased US and Allied relationships through a series of humanitarian missions, Maritime Security Operations and multi -lateral training exercises.
In 2011, Romania ratified a bilateral agreement to host a US land based Aegis Ashore site capable of employing SM-3 interceptors. This agreement solidified Phase II plans, introducing the first Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, Romania equipped with SPY-1 Radar and 24 SM-3 BLK IB missiles. The site was designed to protect NATO European Territories against short and medium range ballistic missiles by providing multiple intercept opportunities. Aegis Ashore receives cueing data from non-organic sensors such as the AN/TPY-2 radar and afloat Aegis firing units to locally track, detect, and intercept ballistic missiles in their midcourse phase of flight. In October of 2013, physical construction of the Aegis Ashore site in Romania began and in October of 2014, the Navy Facility was established and the first US Commander installed. This year, the transition from a construction site to an operational command began. In 2016 the site will be ready to support the Alliance’s BMD IOC.
EPAA Phase 3, scheduled to begin in 2018, expands the coverage against short and medium range ballistic missiles and deploys a more advanced interceptor. This will be achieved through an additional Aegis Ashore site in Redzikowo, Poland with upgraded SM-3 BLK IIA missiles (currently under co-development from the United States and Japan), additional C2BMC updates, and baseline upgrades to Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Ships.
The announcement and implementation of the EPAA has caused some strain between the United States and Russia. The Russian government has expressed concern that the system could eventually intercept Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and has publicly doubted its true intention stating that the plan upsets the strategic balance between the two countries. However, ICBM speed and range is well beyond the capability of any variant of SM-3. The only asset capable of engaging ICBMs are Ground Based Interceptors located in California and Alaska. Furthermore, the trajectories of most Russian ICBMs are through the polar region and not through the EPAA operating environment. NATO and host nation policy was carefully constructed with Russian perceptions in mind and EPAA policies do not allow for use of technology that could be used against a Russian threat. Careful review of doctrine and placement of NATO BMD assets confirms adherence to EPAA policy.
In addition to the new technologies coming online, numerous command and control improvements have been made as well. Notably, C6F has stood up a new Task Force, CTF 64, focused on air and missile defense. This task force can be aligned under STRIKFORNATO in a NATO Command and Control construct as CTF IAMD, providing personnel augmentation with additional expertise to plan and execute BMD from the maritime domain.
As you can see, the implementation of the EPAA initiatives is well underway and we recently demonstrated the maritime capability during the At-Sea-Demonstration in October 2015 off the Hebrides Range of Scotland. The US, together with British, Canadian, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish ships joined to form an effective coalition sea-based defense against simultaneous anti –ship and ballistic missile threats with coordinated command and control. The demo served to stimulate concept development through demonstrative interoperability and force interaction, ultimately generating capability through operational testing in a live tactical environment.
STRIKFORNATO and US SIXTH Fleet CTF 64/CTF IAMD capitalized on the increased importance of maritime BMD and the success of the demo to continue developing a robust Allied BMD training regimen, the European Training Campaign, building on currently active CTF 64 synthetic training for US BMD firing units in-theatre. NATO (maritime) BMD capabilities and proficiencies will continue to grow through this training while incorporating members of the whole Alliance. Furthermore, STRIKFORNATO is fostering a comprehensive training program with key NATO Command Structure units of Allied Command Operations (ACO), AIRCOM, and MARCOM to advance both proficiency and capability. Together we look to significantly enhance NATO’s ability to defend NATO European Territory from the ballistic missile threat.
STRIKFORNATO’s unique position in the NATO Force Structure, and its strong relationships across the Alliance and with SIXTH Fleet, make us the premier organization for integrating this capability. Our high readiness and fully equipped Joint Headquarters is capable of executing this mission from multiple locations, afloat and ashore, across the full spectrum of the European Theater. The preponderance of planning expertise, national planning tools, and maritime BMD operational experience is not found anywhere else in the Alliance. STRIKFORNATO is able to provide the subject matter experts with capability and experience in mission planning to support NATO maritime BMD operations today!
By Chief of Staff, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Rear Admiral Roy Kitchener.