The Army’s office responsible for rapid deployment is taking over Guam’s air defense

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army’s Office of Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies is forming a joint team to execute the Pentagon’s vision for an air and missile defense architecture for Guam, its director told Defense News.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the Guam Defense Systems Joint Project Executive Office, which will manage the RCCTO, Lt. Gen. Robert Rasch said in a March 27 interview at the World Union US Army Strength. Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. It will consist of members from all services, he noted.

The office is already set up and fiscal 2024 money is being realigned to begin, he said.

The Army last year was tasked with leading the acquisition and execution plan for the Guam architecture, and the new office within the RCCTO will focus on bringing together technology to create a joint integrated air and missile defense capability to protect the strategic Pacific island.

“As we begin to implement the defense of Guam’s Army systems, Navy systems and MDA systems, that sensing layer will thicken,” he explained. “And we think we have a lot to learn about how to digest or fuse that information from the air defense side, and that’s a really difficult area to get right. So if we can get it there, [we] consider that it will scale very quickly to the other sectors that do not have the same latency [or] It takes time for them to carry out their mission.”

Pentagon leaders, focused on China as a growing threat, say 2024 will be a key year for the military to bolster defenses around Guam. During this year, the agency plans to have a fundamental capability to prevent a potential attack.

The Missile Defense Agency and the Army sought a total of $1.5 billion in the FY24 budget to begin preparing the island by moving assets into place and integrating capabilities. The effort is a test for the Army, which decision-makers have at times ignored amid a focus on air and naval power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Success in Guam could help bolster the military’s air and missile defense role in the region. The first wave of defense will include radars, launchers, interceptors and a command and control system.

The Army requested $638 million for FY24 for three lower-tier Air and Missile Defense Sensors, multiple Patriot air defense systems, and a variety of medium-range missile launchers and indirect fire capability launchers. In addition, the agency plans to use the Integrated Battle Command System built by Northrop Grumman to connect the right sensors to the right gunners on the battlefield.

The Navy will provide technology and capability from its Aegis weapon system. the agency has jurisdiction over the locations where it will place the technology.

In addition, FY24 funding requests are intended to cover the installation along the perimeter of the island of four high-tech, solid-state, mobile AN/TPY-6 radars, which are new sensors using technology from the Clear Space Long Range Discrimination Radar Force Base, Alaska.

“It’s synchronizing all of that at one point in time, or getting to one point in time in Guam, so you actually have a capability — not just delivering a radar to a location where there’s no power, no place to put it, or no we have no maintenance arrangement for it,” Rasch said. “So a lot of our efforts, in addition to creating that integrated layered capability, is to make sure that all the bits and pieces create a capability, not just a hardware.”

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist who covers land warfare for Defense News. He has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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