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Short Range Air Defense in Army Divisions: Do We Really Need It

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Ever since the Soviet threat collapsed, coupled with the demonstrated, overwhelming, capability of our air forces during numerous operations in the 1990s, the relevance of the Short Range Air Defense SHORAD force in Army divisions has been questioned by senior leaders. With a gap growing between requirements and funding, compounded by the recent medium-brigade initiative, options and tradeoffs are being considered for the Division XXI structure. This paper examines the relevance of SHORAD by looking at lessons learned from Desert Storm from the perspective of a hypothetical enemy it reviews off- the-shelf and evolving technology and projects the air threat beyond 2015. What is revealed is that we are amateurs at air defense. As an Army, we have grown callus to aerial threats and will go as far to abrogate the responsibility of air defense to the U.S Air Force and Navy. There will not be another Desert Storm. Current and future threats watched CNN and observed the Abrams tank, Bradley fighting vehicle, and the F-16 aircraft freely destroy Iraqi conventional forces in open terrain. The same future threats watched a deliberate six-month build-up of forces and mountains of supplies and ammunition. Conversely, the next enemy will strike where we are weak and untested. The threat will not be from the main gun of an armored vehicle, but will come from the air in the form of rocket artillery, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The enemy will strike early with the intent on swaying the will of the American people with casualties unacceptable when weighed against a national interest that is not real clear to the general public. How will we achieve full spectrum dominance throughout the phases of a campaign against a clever enemy using a wide array of aerial threats

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Antimissile Defense Systems

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