Army Space Command runs missile defense exercise

by Tom Mahr

SCHRIEVER AFB, Colo. (Army News Service, Aug. 24, 2000) -- U.S. Army Space Command organized a joint Battle Planning Exercise Aug. 16 for the nation's missile defense system.

The exercise was the eighth in a series of exercises sponsored by the U.S. Space Command to fine-tune its battle management command, control and communications system. It was held at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization's Joint National Test Facility at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

"Today's exercise had two purposes," explained Army Maj. Tom Anderson, of U.S. Army Space Command's plans division. "Our first goal was to examine the importance and impact of the rules of engagement," Anderson said, to defend North America against ballistic missile threats. "Our second goal was to give those of us in the operational community a chance to practice making critical operational decisions using the current version of the NMD (National Missile Defense) battle management software."

The exercise brought NMD operators from USSPACECOM, the North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD, Air Force Space Command, USARSPACE and the Army National Guard with a number of DoD and contractor members of the "developer" team for discussions and exercises using the prototype NMD battle management command and control software.

At the end of the day, many participants had discovered just how valuable it is for operators and developers to discuss the "rules of the game," especially when dealing with something as serious as defending North America against missile attacks.

"As an NMD warfighter, it is especially important to understand the big picture so I can best apply my skills in the fire direction center," said Army Capt. Sean Johnson of the North Dakota Army National Guard.

Johnson, Army Maj. Kevin Iverson and Army Staff Sgt. Reed Unterseher represented the North Dakota Army Guard, while Army Sgt. 1st Class Bill Amidon represented the Alaskan Army National Guard. North Dakota and Alaska are the two states that are most likely to operate the ground-based portion a NMD system, if a decision is made to deploy one.

The Joint National Test Facility is BMDO's premier modeling, simulation and test center, officials said. The JNTF is focused on interservice, interoperability and integration aspects of the nation's national and theater missile defense programs.

"The BPExs are conducted here in the JNTF to enable us to take advantage of the BMC3 Element Laboratory's operational software and analytical tools," explained Army Maj. Stuart Strong, Program Manager for the BMC3 Element Support Center and Laboratory.

Lt. Col. Stephen Sovaiko, assigned to NORAD/USSPACECOM's Cheyenne Mountain Operation Center, summed up his experience: "This exercise was important because it focused our attention on ways the national command authorities might use a national missile defense system to counteract a wide range of possible threats to North America, both intentional and accidental. The exercise also revealed a lot of policy work which remains to be done on engagement doctrine."

Canadian Forces Maj. Gen. David Bartram, NORAD's director of operations and the exercise CINC, agreed with and underscored Sovaiko's observations. "Recommendations will flow from the exercise to the NORAD and USSPACECOM staffs which will ultimately be reflected in BMD concepts of operations and/or requests for changes or clarifications to the ROE for ballistic missile defense."

(Editor's note: Tom Mahr is with the Joint National Test Facility public affairs staff.)