On December 13, the GMF Warsaw Office organized a conference titled: “Maximizing National Security: The Integration of Polish and NATO Missile Defense Architectures”. The seminar brought together experts, senior military officials, main think-tank representatives, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of the defense industry.
In his introductory remarks, the Undersecretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bogusław Winid stated that Poland is now going forward with a new Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system which is certain to be integrated with NATO’s missile defense architecture, while also constituting a significant part of Poland’s national defense modernization effort. He said that Poland is pleased with the outcome from the NATO Chicago and Lisbon Summits. Despite anticipated challenges for command and control integration and legal approvals needed within the Parliament, he is optimistic about Poland’s BMD program and its ongoing efforts of engagement with international partners. The program for Poland encompasses three pillars: national security, NATO interoperability and cooperation with the U.S. Winid said that by 2022 the total cost of the program will reach 130 billion Polish zloty (PLN). In all the current and future programs in this area, the Polish government hopes to see more engagement from the Polish defense industry, but foreign industrial capacity and capabilities are crucial to the development of an effective BMD system for Poland, and other key partner nations within NATO. The Minister also mentioned that Poland has studied additional avenues of potential cooperation within the Alliance, and has drawn positive conclusions from successful examples of regional cooperation amongst the Nordic and Baltic states. He said that Poland will work to expand cooperation among the states of the Visegrad group despite differences in the size of their militaries and budgets in comparison with that of Poland.
During the first panel, chaired by Ian Brzezinski, the head of the Brzezinski Group, on “NATO’s Missile Defense Architectures", panelists discussed how Poland's air and missile defense program can be integrated into the broader NATO BMD framework envisioned for Europe. It was said that NATO is responsible for developing the lower-tier command and control (C2) element and interoperability with this system is a priority for all contributing and participating nations. Panelists pointed out that this is a first of its kind capability that integrates NATO’s newly inaugurated Air Command & Control System (ACCS), the alliance’s first totally integrated sensor and communications network that defends European NATO airspace, with the air and missile defense mission. The panelists explained that ACCS is now being expanded by experts at the French/US joint venture, Thales Raytheon Systems, to include the territorial Missile Defense (TMD) mission of the Alliance adopted in Lisbon in 2010. This expanded capability is called ACCS-TMD, and once it is fully operational, participating nations will be able to link their national defensive weapon systems and sensors into this network. Participating nations, such as The Netherlands and Germany, contribute advanced Patriot lower-tier, short-range ballistic missile defense systems, which are now being deployed by NATO to Turkey in response to the Syrian crisis, to offer an effective deterrence against short-range ballistic missile threats to alliance territory.
The panel also discussed the U.S. contribution to NATO BMD, which is the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), focused on the upper-tier to address the potential long-range ballistic missile threat to Europe. The NATO BMD command and control system (ACCS-TMD) provides the link between NATO command and European-based national assets (weapons and sensors) and the U.S.-controlled EPAA assets (such as the Navy’s Aegis missile cruisers). One of the NATO panelists said that thus far only the U.S. has developed operational capabilities for the upper-layer. Last year’s tests by NATO were also highlighted, named Rapid Arrow, which proved NATO ACCS-TMD is the right capability for the NATO BMD lower-tier mission, again using Patriot to defeat a short-range ballistic missile target under the unified NATO command and control structure. NATO’s missile defense command is presently headquartered in Ramstein, Germany - the main NATO hub for Missile Defense operations in Europe - under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The panelists also highlighted that missile defense cooperation presents an important opportunity to create a new strategic pillar of U.S.-Polish security cooperation, especially in the larger NATO context, as it serves the needs of both the transatlantic security community and Poland’s national interests. Thus, Poland’s missile defense program, if integrated into NATO, could offer an increasingly important contribution to the collective deterrence capability of the Alliance that is intended to prevent aggressors from leveraging the speed and accuracy of ballistic missiles, and the increasingly wide spectrum of warheads available.
In the second session, which was chaired by the Director of Research at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Peter Doran, titled: “National Capability Contributions to NATO’s Missile Defense” the panelists agreed that missile defense is a complex and very costly undertaking involving the most advanced technologies. While very complex, integrating Poland's ambitions on this subject with those of NATO are vital to Poland's national security interests, the security of the Central Eastern European region, and the Alliance as a whole. This is also why it matters to the U.S. and other European nations how Poland plans to proceed with its missile defense system. Poland will likely draw in the best technology from the U.S., their system will be NATO interoperable by design, and it will be uniquely Polish in its implementation.
Director of the Department of Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland, Adam Bugajski said that Poland’s long-term goal within the Alliance is to provide full time coverage and protection for NATO member states, and that the U.S. contribution (EPAA) to European NATO BMD is crucial. Bugajski stressed that all NATO members share the costs of development of the command and control element and some of them provide practical contributions (for example, Spain providing naval bases, Turkey – a base for a long-range US radar system, Poland and Romania – facilities for US long-range upper-tier interceptors, and Germany and the Netherlands – Patriot missile batteries). He stressed that air and missile defense programs are one of the main priorities for Poland, which currently spends 1.95% of its GDP on national defense. As Poland’s own project evolves, Bugajski said, it will create more jobs and opportunities making it a strategic investment. Bugajski concluded that Poland will: 1. Develop modern air and missile defense capabilities, 2. Ensure that new capabilities are interoperable with NATO, 3. Remain engaged with the U.S. phased adaptive approach and; 4. Identify opportunities to benefit from engagement with regional partners.
During the Q&A session, one of the participants asked what threat really concerns Poland, whether Russia could be the ‘elephant in the room’, and how Poland can contribute to the future security environment in the region. The conclusion from the discussion that ensued was that every nation has the right to choose which capability and military equipment it requires for its national security needs, as it sees them. Further, these discussions are purely about defensive capabilities, which will complement other defensive structures and be integrated with NATO capabilities. Poland, like other European member States, wants to be prepared and also be able to contribute the same capabilities as others in NATO as part of its Article 5 commitment.
The conference session concluded with a speech by Douglas Greene, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission for Poland, who stated that Poland and the U.S. have a deep and strong security partnership, which is based on shared values and a commitment to protect those values. Greene emphasized that in the 21st century we have seen a proliferation of ballistic missile technology, resulting in a threat that is very real, and the US contribution to the protection of Europe from this threat is EPAA. He stressed the importance of Polish-U.S. and Polish-NATO cooperation, underlining that the key to a successful Polish air and missile defense program will be to have interoperable and deployable missile defense capabilities while employing principles of Smart Defense that will maximize our limited assets and strengthen NATO’s Article 5 security guarantees. He stated that the United States remains strongly committed to working with Poland on its air and missile defense program and announced that at the recent Polish-American High Level Defense Group meetings in Warsaw, the US reinforced its commitment to working with Poland on this issue. The “Maximizing National Security” conference generated a lot of discussion both at the panels and during lunch afterwards, with over 100 participants present. GMF Warsaw Office Director Dr. Andrew Michta announced that this event was the first of the series of planned conferences under GMF patronage on air and missile defense. Michta stressed that GMF will remain actively engaged on this topic in months to come to provide a non-partisan forum for future discussion.