by Riki Ellison, Family Security Matters
Palm Circle, Headquarters of U.S. Army Pacific Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
The United States Army Pacific, headquartered in Hawaii, operates in a region that covers 50 percent of the earth's surface, has the four most populated countries, seven of the ten largest armies in the world, and spans 30 countries and 20 territories. This massive region is defended by the U.S. Army with over 40,000 U.S. soldiers deployed in the Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea, the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, U.S. Army Japan, U.S. Army Alaska, and the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) out of Fort Shafter, Hawaii. It is the 94th's mission to defend against ballistic and cruise missiles in the Pacific region that are currently threatening our armed forces and Allies and the United States homeland.
Though the U.S. Army air defenders make up around one percent of the total U.S .Army and concurrently spend seven percent of the U.S. Army's annual budget, their mission is absolutely critical in implementing U.S. policy that preserves peace and stability in the Pacific region. Because U.S. missile defense systems are both scarce and in high demand, current U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East have occasionally overshadowed the equal demand for these same systems by the U.S. Army Pacific and Pacific Command for the protection of half the earth's surface.
The deployment of U.S. missile defense systems, as a first means of self defense of our U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan to project U.S. offensive force, especially in air power, stands as a strong and convincing deterrent to North Korea and others in this region that choose to proliferate missiles in countries in the Pacific for military objectives and political purposes to disrupt international law and regional stability.
Directly in line with this policy and deductive reasoning is the upcoming missile defense test of the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system in Hawaii. The test will demonstrate THAAD's capability to sense, track, process, and take out multiple missiles at the same time, thereby proving the capability to negate salvo and raid type launches that proliferating missile countries such as North Korea and Iran continue to display in their own testing. No doubt those countries and others will be watching the upcoming THAAD test demonstration, which if successful will be conditionally released to the U.S. Army for deployment.
The THAAD system provides the U.S. Army with high altitude and exo-atmospheric intercept capability and a substantially larger defended area that provides an additional fully integrated, upper-tier layer to the U.S. Army Patriot missile defense systems. This first combat system out of nine will be in high demand and competed for by U.S. Central Command and the U.S. Pacific Command for immediate deployment in their regions.
The intent and power of putting the THAAD system in the Pacific theater will make a significant political statement, not just to North Korea but to all countries in the region including China, allied or not, that will benefit from and be deterred by this U.S. assured deterrence.
Having a significant defense in the Pacific will help prevent loss of American lives, adding another campaign streamer to the existing 63 on the U.S. Army flag that our nation has already fought in the Pacific, and adding to the 391 Americans who received our nation's highest decoration for valor: The Medal of Honor in the Pacific.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Riki Ellison is Founder and President of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), whose mission is to help make the world safer by encouraging the development of a missile defense system that would protect against ballistic missiles of all ranges.