Middle East Missile & Air Defense Conference (MEMAD 2008)

Post Event Synopsis - Day Two

Francois Gere, President of the French Institute for Strategic Analysis introduced the first plenary session of Day Two of MEMAD. The topic for the session looked at the “Development of Artillery Rockets and their potential Threat.” Gere opened the panel up by arguing that missile defense has a long history in the region. He pointed out that artillery rockets are now becoming the tool of choice because they use the population of an area as human shields making the challenge about offensive and defensive weapons.

MG Peter Vangjel, CG U.S. Army Field Artillery School, Ft. Sill, argued in his presentation on the development of artillery rockets and their potential threat that global drivers, such as globalization and failing states and munitions, are out of control. These munitions come from unlimited resources. The next ten years, Vangjel maintained, there will be a persistent threat from these weapons that are creating chaos in civilian areas and forces militaries to change focus. Overall, the speaker wanted to emphasize five takeaways from his briefing. First, we are entering the “Age of Persistent Conflict”. Second, indirect fire will remain an enduring feature of future conflicts. Rockets, artillery and mortars are weapons of choice. Third, fixed and semi-fixed sites will always present a target that insurgents will continue to exploit. Finally, threats will continually adapt and improve to challenge the U.S. to defeat rocket artillery and mortar efforts. A holistic approach is required including human, technical and maneuvers assets.

Brigadier General Genaro Dellarocco, chief of the leading the ‘Missile and Space’ project in the US Army, said in his session on defending against artillery rockets that much of the research and development work currently being done in his office is becoming more lethal, and more joint in nature. This is indicative of the seriousness this capability is regarded by the leadership. . The mission area of this organization is also likely to grow in region in the coming years after some expected MoU’s are signed in next few months. This will extend the lower tier partnership already existent vis-à-vis the patriot system with friendly nations into newer areas and work towards more integrated systems.

Effective counter rocket and mortar systems is not an easy task. On a localized level they have been used with some success in Afghanistan, but these were not large size systems and so these solutions may be challenged with larger systems. There is thus many areas which are currently under development.

In defending against artillery rockets, a double-sided approach is required: first, conflict should be avoided through the use of diplomacy and instruments such as economic sanctions; second, intensified intelligence collection and hardening of positions should be used to ensure preparedness in the event of conflict breaking out. Sometimes sanctions work, but not always. Hitting the financial systems does however have an impact and so it should not be thought that sanctions yield are ineffective.

Any good defence is said to be rooted in a good offence, and vice versa, and so if enemy artillery targets can be reached quickly then enemy will change tactics. Detecting the forces, alerting the force, and destroying the rockets make up three key aspects of defence. Defending the force through intelligence is the first means – it is possible to deduce the enemy formation if the locations of deployed rockets can be ascertained.

Destroying the rocket saves many lives - but how this can best be done? For example, using lasers can knock out Katushya rockets, however, such a system is expensive. Like this system, there is a number of other technologies present, and others under development. For now, solutions for defending against artillery rockets are either too expensive, or difficult to transfer and move around, or not rugged enough, or still not mature needed to be put into operational use.

In the final plenary of the day, Dr. Michael Connell, from the Center for Naval Analysis, introduced the session. The two key issues were to examine Partners in ITAMD Operations and Crisis Management programs regarding Missile Attacks against Gulf states.

Brigadier General Robert Woods, Commanding General at the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, delivered a briefing on partners in ITAMD Operations. Delegates were briefed on the recent activities, current operations, and planned operations. They were told that over the next two and a half years, planned rotations and units on call for additional support as needed will continue, and an additional four PAC-3 Battalions through upgrades will also be gained through this time scale, reflecting the strong resolve to the theater.

Counter Protect and Deter (CPD) in 2006 was conducted to deter threats and show the commitment of this command to the region. Later, with the Doha Asian Games (DAG) in October 2006, the Air Missile Defence Force Protection began its permanent presence and brigade rotations to the Gulf Region. With Eagle Resolve, rapid deployment capabilities were exercised, and today the command stands ready to commit whatever forces are necessary to deter any air and missile threats throughout the surrounding region.

Various forces from two brigades have already been dedicated to the gulf region, and these forces have been integrated with forces from host nations to build a formidable ballistic missile defense architecture. Early warning is currently conducted differently with each host nation, and these classified arrangements are addressed by the U.S. State Department through bilateral agreements with each host nation. The desired end state is one coherent and integrated shared early warning (SEW) architecture. Contact with U.S. Central Command for cooperation to achieve shared early warning all the way across is also an ongoing process in this regard.

The UAE has recently signed deal to buy Patriot, THAAD, & SLAMRAAM whereas Kuwait (PAC-2 PBD 6.0) and Saudi Arabia (PAC-2) already own Patriot. Qatar is interested in Patriot & SLAMRAAM as well, however no deal has been signed yet.

Dr. Sami Faraj, Chairman of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies, in his presentation “National Crisis Management in Dealing with Missile Attacks (Passive Defense) opened by saying that he is presenting his ideas based on the occupation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. From 1990 he began to work for official institutions and trying to coordinate between ministries. An emergency plan, if subjected to an objective debate, and supported by resources both qualitatively and quantitatively, could perhaps mean the difference between a successful crisis management, and a total catastrophe. In the best-case scenario it is always good to have a plan.

In 2003 Kuwait began to do papers at Iraqi missile systems and prepared for a crisis management plan. But then began to expand to all types of missile threats from both state and non-state actors, both external and internal. The point is to shore up defenses around key installations. According to Dr. Faraj, the GCC nations have certain commonalities that make defense a tricky issue for any would-be planner as they are too close to tension flashpoints; they are small in size and numbers, the national segment of the population is a minority, and the non-national speak many different languages and follow different religions and customs; their strategic economic areas and vital connecting arteries are too close to population areas; and, finally, their security, health, emergency services, and utilities are too close to each other. Shortages do occur at the most basic level like lack of electricity or flooding from extreme weather and this can hamper the state. So an attack will be a real crisis.

As a result, according to Dr. Faraj, is that a national crisis-manager has a major responsibility. His team will need to coordinate across a number of different agencies against a host of threats including conventional strike, unconventional strike, terrorist attack, environmental threats, cyber attacks, force saturation due to temp of operations. So therefore, there are multiple probabilities. The team must be ready for all kinds of threats. In Kuwait City, for instance, there is high-density population and key institutions of governance and business. Coalitions presence adjacent to strategic population and industrial centers represent the highest probability. In this area there are over 200 languages and this is true in other parts of the Gulf including Dubai. There is a need to build a rapid deployment crisis management team for the entire GCC.

One interesting point that Dr. Faraj argued that there is no system to fight against poisonous clouds and this is a critical problem if industrial zones and oil facilities are hit. The impact of a missile attack on one target in one country means a threat to the same institutions and economic hubs in other GCC states.

The speaker also addressed the Iranian threat to Kuwait. The Iranian threat via speedboats, mine fields, conventional maritime attacks challenge Kuwait’s planners. There may also use different types of mobile attack platforms for air operations. Some short-range Iranian missiles can hit Kuwait and not other GCC states.

Finally, Dr. Faraj stated that on the strategic level there is an evaluation of regional and international environment. This includes a threat assessment, conducting an evaluation of capabilities, and counters. On the operational level, the role of the media must be informed in emergency procedures in many different languages. In addition, the state must be divided into sections for efficiency.

The conference came to a successful conclusion.