STUTTGART, Germany – U.S. and European military and civilian leaders met in Berlin recently to discuss upgrades to ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities in order to increase the capacity of NATO’s missile defense architecture in Europe.
More than 100 senior military and civilian government officials from nine Allied nations took part in the conference Sept. 13-14 at Julius Leber Kaserne in Berlin. Co-hosted by U.S. European Command and the German Federal Ministry of Defense, the event offered a forum for Allied leaders to present their policy views, study efforts and plans on upgrading their existing air defense systems to potentially provide additional voluntary National contributions to NATO’s BMD mission in Europe, said Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, EUCOM’s Deputy Director of Plans, Policy and Strategy.
“The goal was to get a group of Allies together to discuss what future capabilities might be offered in an integrated European missile defense environment,” Montgomery said. “We discussed current U.S. commitments. Other countries briefed on the capabilities they have or are considering acquiring over the next few years.”
Representatives from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom – nations possessing advanced air defense systems that could be upgraded for missile defense – offered a look at their ways forward. While land-based, space-based and airborne systems were considered, the conference was primarily focused on maritime assets.
“It was clear that all nine countries were coming to the table with some level of existing or future missile defense commitments,” Montgomery said. “We then went on to discuss what further aspirations and opportunities might exist over the next seven to 10 years.”
In 2009, President Obama announced plans for a Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to ballistic missile defense in Europe. Using a network of sensors, interceptors, and command and control structures, the plan is designed to offer the alliance a regional capability to defend NATO’s European population, territory and forces. Under the European PAA (EPAA), EUCOM works closely with Allies in Europe to determine how NATO member nations could share the burden.
At the 2010 Lisbon summit, NATO leaders agreed to invest in missile defense. At the Chicago Summit in May 2012, NATO declared an interim operational capability for missile defense, and called upon members to provide voluntary National contributions to missile defense.
The EPAA has four phases. The first phase, now complete, includes a land-based early warning system in Turkey, guided missile ships in the Mediterranean Sea and a NATO-led command and control center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The second phase includes a land-based defense system in Romania by 2015, followed by an additional land-based system in Poland during phase three, starting 2018. In the plan’s final phase, expected by 2020, NATO should be capable of defeating medium and intermediate range missiles plus potential intercontinental ballistic missile threats.
At the conference, Allies discussed their policies, plans and studies to develop their potential capabilities to detect and intercept possible threats. These discussions frame NATO’s upcoming senior leader forum, set for late September at Ramstein, where Alliance leaders will focus on current missile defense operational requirements. According to RDML Montgomery, the dialogue that began in Berlin has laid the groundwork for Allied nations to work together to provide sufficient missile defense capacity, interoperable and complementary to the US EPAA, that can defend Europe in the years ahead.
“In 10 years, when the NATO command is looking at its capabilities, they should have a lot more to choose from,” Montgomery said. “This was a first step toward that happening.”