U.S. Missile Defense Training in the Baltics

Russia’s Defense Ministry says this photo shows a Russian warship launching a cruise missile toward Ukraine in October 2022. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By U.S. Strategic Command staff

Globally, rogue actors and adversaries are testing the United States and its allies and partners with the proliferation and technological advancements of ballistic and cruise missiles, hypersonic glide vehicles and unmanned aerial systems. This new threat environment further underpins the necessity of missile defense as an indispensable function critical to the security of key allies and partners.

The Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD) Training Directorate (J7) and its Joint Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Training and Education Center (JBTEC) serve as a cornerstone of this effort, educating allies and partners on critical aspects of missile defense. Instructors from JFCC IMD at Schriever Space Force Base (SFB) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, provided unclassified Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense training to military members from the Baltic states at the Estonia Control and Reporting Center in Tallinn, Estonia, April 11-14, 2022. The participants included approximately 25 members of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air forces.

JFCC IMD, a component command of the U.S. Strategic Command, conducted the training as part of ongoing U.S. European Command engagement efforts to increase missile defense capability and awareness among the Baltic states. Missile defense is a key component of an effective security architecture capable of deterring potential conflict.

JFCC IMD, comprised of personnel from each service, conducts global missile defense operations support in coordination with other combatant commands, services and, as directed, appropriate U.S. government agencies. U.S. Army Col. Geoffrey Adams, then-deputy commanding officer of JFCC IMD, explained during the April training the importance of missile defense in security architectures not only in NATO but also in regions all over the world. “The situation in Ukraine is a powerful example of the danger missile threats pose to our forces and territories,” he said. “Adversaries are challenging the U.S., allies and partners with an increasing array of technologically advanced ballistic and cruise missile systems with greater mobility, accuracy and lethality.”

JFCC IMD’s JBTEC at Schriever SFB trains more than 4,000 people each year at locations across the globe, including at its main campus in Colorado Springs. JBTEC is unique in that it is the only U.S. organization certified as a Joint Center of Excellence. Students come from across all U.S. military services and from agencies within the U.S. government as well as from ally and partner nations from every corner of the world. The JBTEC’s mission is to enhance the ability of its students to conduct integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) planning, increase U.S. and partner abilities to operate across the joint force and improve leaders’ ability to critically analyze the operational and strategic impacts of IAMD operations. IAMD can be an important component of a nation’s deterrent to aggression. “We utilize small training teams at the various locations we travel to.” said Pat McNelis, JBTEC’s director and lead instructor. “In most cases, it is more cost effective than for the operators, planners and staff officers to travel to Colorado Springs.”

Conducting tailored mobile training and education events with U.S. allies and partners is a prime example of security cooperation, a high priority for the U.S. with respect to its overarching security strategy. This highly sought-after training significantly contributes to that strategy by strengthening the relationships and cooperation vital to achieving critical mutual defense objectives. “Demonstrated commitment to mutual security agreements is invaluable to a strong alliance or partnership,” Col. Adams said. “Training together is a good way of demonstrating our commitment.”

Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are all members of the European Union, United Nations and NATO. Relations between the U.S. and the Baltic states as strategic allies and partners remain constant and strong. The Pentagon signed defense cooperation agreements with all three Baltic states in 2019. Per the agreements, areas of defense cooperation include capability development and defense-related aid, training exercises, cyber defense, training areas and host nation support.

The world today is a very unstable and dangerous place. Russia’s ongoing brutal hostilities against Ukraine; China’s recent “strategic breakout” of its nuclear and conventional forces, coupled with its belligerent military activities off Taiwan, signaling a possible prelude to an invasion; and the recent North Korean ballistic missile test launches are all destabilizing events and cause for international concern.

Given these recent events, it’s imperative that the U.S. military maintain strong and enduring partnerships with our allies to demonstrate our commitment to maintaining lasting stability and security around the world.

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