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Opinion

Patriot missile interceptor system is a key to international security for the U.S.

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Opinion,Op-Eds,North Korea,Russia,China,Defense Spending,Military Budget,International Treaties,NATO

For the past month, the world’s attention has been divided. We watched the World Cup with passion and excitement, even as we were buffeted by global crises in Iraq, Nigeria, the Korean Peninsula and Eastern Europe.

In the opening round of the World Cup, a well-played, deep ball resulted in the Netherlands’ Robin van Persie’s sudden header to tie reigning world champions, Spain. Where were Spanish interceptors at this critical moment?

Sports analogies can be helpful in strategic considerations for the employment of military forces. A challenge to potential military operations across the globe is the proliferation of ballistic missiles.

Beyond Russia and China, other nations control several thousand missiles that must enter the calculations of combatant commanders for deterrence or response.

Where U.S. partners possess the capacity to counter the ballistic missile threat, we have an immediate advantage in the ability to quickly build force capabilities for deterrence, defense and offensive operations.

With key partners such as Japan, Korea, and NATO, the availability of strong security capabilities, such as the modernized Patriot missile system, provide a tremendous advantage.

When Patriot is deployed internationally, U.S. forces are able to prioritize air, ground and maritime assets, while the partner nation provides needed capacity for response to the missile threat and the potential quick strike disruption.

Our nation’s military has proven the value of Patriot with successful deployments now in the third decade in Korea, Europe, the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

Other nations are continually looking to become Patriot partners, like Poland, which recently announced that Patriot is one of two finalists for its new Polish Shield.

Meanwhile, the European Union executes it neighborhood policy with Ukraine and other Eastern European Nations, Russia has roared and annexed Crimea.

With Russia’s recent actions and the September NATO Summit in Wales on the horizon, transatlantic missile defense and its future are at the forefront U.S.-European security discussions.

While Ukraine membership in NATO is a future possibility, the region includes NATO members and neighbors who are well aware of Russia’s capability.

These more recent NATO members who emerged from the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact are potential beneficiaries of President Obama’s proposed $1 billion European security fund.

Additionally, they are among those asked by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to step up their own contributions to their collective defense.

NATO members such as Turkey must heed the threat of the Syrian civil war and more recently ISIS operations into western Iraq. The increasing likelihood of involvement by other nations such as Iran introduces emergent threats to include the introduction of ballistic missiles.

For years, Europe has chosen to divert funding away from missile defense programs, forcing the U.S. to carry the majority of the burden. But when incorporated into a partnership that spreads costs around 12 nations, Patriot is a prime example of a stronger, more efficient alliance between the U.S. and allies.

It is imperative that the U.S. and our partners sustain Patriot modernization, as well as critically needed common operating standards to protect our coalition forces.

Today, as we design our forces to meet the evolving national security strategy, our nation is shifting to smaller force packages and shorter deployments.

As a result, we are likely to continue to put increased pressure on our Special Operations capabilities, our deployable air packages, and our forces to build partner capabilities.

In many of the tough places our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen go, they will find the threat includes air and ballistic missile threats. As our next generation continues the mission, they deserve the quality of protection provided by the Patriot, a modern, world-class defense system.

Major General Richard J. Rowe, Jr. (U.S. Army Retired) served in senior leadership positions with U.S. Forces-Iraq, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and the 82d Airborne Division.
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