The U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) does not procure satellites, but Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, SMDC’s commander since late 2006, doesn’t think that would be such a bad idea in the future, particularly for spacecraft intended to directly serve troops in the field.
For now, however, Campbell and SMDC have plenty on their plate. In addition to being the Army’s lead in space and missile defense planning and operations, the Huntsville, Ala.-
based command is taking on missions such as preventing adversaries from using space assets and developing new applications for space technologies.
SMDC also directly supports U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom), and Campbell believes his previous job as Stratcom’s chief of staff will help him in his current capacity. He
leads Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command (JFCC) for Integrated Missile Defense, providing
a global perspective to coordinate
around the world.
Campbell talked about his space and missile defense agenda during a recent interview with Space News Staff Writer Jeremy Singer.
How does SMDC complement the Air Force’s work on space control?
I don’t know if I want to go there and talk about specifics. It’s a very sensitive topic.
People obviously understand that we’re trying to ensure that we can deny something, or that we can maintain our own freedom of action. We’re trying to expand that capability.
The Air Force has similar types of systems. We’ve found that the Air Force has some capability on board their platforms that we don’t have – and vice versa. We have a capability that they don’t have. So we are complementary in the theater to each other, and very responsive to the tactical level.
They are similar in that they both have a deny capability, or a destruction-type capability. Think of it as a thermostat – I want to be able to turn up the heat, perhaps go from disrupting it a little bit, to disrupting it a heck of a lot more, to shutting it down. That’s what we strive to have. We want to have a range of capability that you could offer the warfighter.
The Air Force has a capability that may be a bit more offensive.
What are you doing in the way of adapting space or missile defense technology for other missions?
We’re trying to take space applications or missile defense applications and apply those to the fight in operations like those in Iraq. We’ve got a counter IED [improvised explosive device] program that we’re working on where we’ve put some sensors based on space-based technology onto vehicles to help in the counter IED fight.
They’ve taken a number of sensors, and placed them on a ground vehicle. You take different ‘phenomenologies.’ I won’t get into which ones they are – I may cross a line. The notion being there are phenomenologies like
and synthetic aperture radar,
and you place these on a platform so you’re looking at things with different phenomenologies. Then we have a fusion engine that takes what we’re sensing and helps you find the IEDs. So that’s one example of taking technology designed for space on a vehicle on the battlefield.
Do you envision SMDC leading work on the development of any of the satellites for the operationally responsive space mission?
We’d be capable of that. We’d probably go to the same contractors that the Air Force is going to to do the bending of metal.
I think over time, we need to understand how to really measure the success of operationally responsive space. The fundamental question in my mind would be
who are we being operationally responsive to.
The concept is intended to provide the joint force commander with a responsive capability.
So that in my view is a key thing to watch – who is getting this direct benefit of
whatever ability we’ve launched under the auspices of operationally responsive space? Is it the intelligence community? Or a national user in Washington, and not the joint warfighter?
Some advocates within the Army for
platforms that dwell near the edge of space
would like to see the service take the lead role
in the development of such systems. Do you agree?
I haven’t raised that as an issue recently. Something that the Army brings to the table is an intensive focus on making systems responsive to the joint force commander – which can be an Air Force or Navy officer – and that would be helpful from my perspective. We’re doing some work on the basic technologies with high-altitude, long-loiter systems, because there’s certainly a gap there in capability that they could help fill with communications or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads.
What’s on your missile defense agenda?
We’re working on a global concept of operations, and we’re doing that under my hat with the JFCC for Integrated Missile Defense.
We’re focusing on developing a global concept of systems. As the system starts to field mobile elements and as we look towards Europe with fixed sites on foreign soil, I think it changes some of the dynamics on how we look at missile defense from a more regional perspective to
a global perspective.
The second piece that we’re working at the JFCC is how to work with our allies. We’ve had them engaged before, but now we’re running some table-top exercises called Nimble Titan where we’ve really engaged allies like Australia, the United Kingdom
, Denmark, the Dutch
and the Japanese. We’re starting to wrestle with how do we do this as a coalition, as they become partners in an integrated missile defense architecture.
What role would you like U.S. allies to play in missile defense?
Hopefully they will provide hardware that will make up some portion of the layered defense. And that can go all the way from the tactical level by providing Patriot [interceptors]
up to other systems that they may be indigenously developing that we could insert into the system. It could be command and control. It could be people.
We’re trying to give them the opportunity to come into this, within the bounds of their own policy, their own resources
and their own sovereignty issues, so we’re not dictating to any country. I think we’ll do better that way, by inviting them in, rather than saying “you’ve got to come in with A, B and C or we don’t want you within the coalition.”
What role is your JFCC playing on the planned U.S. missile defense sites
in Poland and the Czech Republic?
The role that we’re playing gets back to command and control; how do you do this now as you introduce system elements on other nations’ territory? What role do they have? What role does the combatant commander – in this case
European Command – have? A question that comes to my mind is: do you need a global integrator? Do we need a global commander? And I think, if I say global commander, the regional guys will say “wait a minute. There are regional responsibilities that I
must meet as a regional commander, and you can’t take that from me.”
And I’m not arguing that. There will always be a regional element of the missile defense fight. But I’m trying to look at the gaps and seams between the regions.
I think there needs to be some form of a global integrator to take a look at that, make a risk assessment, and provide that assessment to the abutting combatant commanders, so they understand that there is a seam, and there is a recommendation on how to close it.
I think you need that referee to help coordinate that.
So the JFCC for Integrated Missile Defense can be that referee
Yes, as part of Strategic Command. We in effect do that today with the limited system we have
between Northern Command, Pacific Command and
; we’re trying to look at the seams. It’s a much simpler problem with the sort of unidirectional situation that we’re faced with North Korea, but as we expand, I think it becomes a little more acute.
We wouldn’t make decisions. We would only be the body or command that advises the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of defense from a global perspective. The ultimate decisions would still be made by the chairman and the secretary.
We have done some of those things already – we’ve done it with Patriot.
are more requirements in the theater than there are Patriot battalions, and somebody had to look at them all and come up with an allocation recommendation, and that was the JFCC, working with the combatant commanders, working with Strategic Command. We produced a recommendation on Patriot that went up to the Joint Staff and then a decision was rendered on how to do it.