SMDC Director discusses future warfare

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WHNT'S Steve Johnson discusses the future of warfare with James Johnson of the SMDC Future Warfare Center

Huntsville, Ala (WHNT) – The theme for the recent Space and Missile Defense Symposium was about defending America a decade from now and beyond, future warfare.  James Johnson Jr is the Director of the Space and Missile Defense Command Future Warfare Center.  This week he stopped by WHNT News 19 to give his expert forecast on what may happen in the future for our country’s defense program.

The future is full of possibilities and the people at the SMDC spend their days trying predict what could be.  “It’s a difficult thing to think about.”  Johnson explains that, “We think about things not only ten years down the road, even 25, 30-years down the road.  We do that very systematically.  First we do a lot of thinking about prior conflict.  We’ve been at war for the past 15-years almost in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we think think about what we’ve done well, and what we could have done better.  So we deal with a lot of historical lessons learned.  We also look at a lot of our potential adversaries.  We look at their current capabilities. We try to project what their capabilities will be 10, 20-years down the road, and then from that we do a lot of war games and experiments.  Those go on across the Army, and SMDC participates in many of those.  We typically bring space and missile defense representation.  We provide subject matter experts, and we just try to analyze a variety of scenarios against a variety of potential adversaries in a variety of locations.  So it’s a little bit like looking into a crystal ball, and we don’t know exactly what the future is going to look like, but if we look at all those variety of situations it gives us a robust solution.  So hopefully the future will fit somewhere inside that.”

Technology has changed so much in the past decade.  Past predictions for today’s warfare would have been completely wrong.  Sometimes, looking ahead may not work.  “That’s right, and there are always surprises, and that’s what’s so great about our country and our defense department is we have a lot of ingenuity to work and adapt quickly when our adversary brings things that we haven’t thought about before,”  Johnson says.

There were discussions for the SMD Symposium about maintaining missile defense dominance in an ever changing world.  That is one way to approach that problem, we have to be so far ahead of everybody else in what we do that it doesn’t really matter what they do.  “That’s part of it.”  James Johnson claims.  “We heard during the symposium that we never once want our soldiers to go into a fair fight.  We always want to be an over match.  The challenge that we’re always facing is that a lot of the potential adversaries out there now are making big investments in their capabilities and in some very key areas their capabilities are approaching ours.  That’s a challenge we always face, understanding what our adversaries capabilities are and then assessing what that means to us.  Where do we need to invest our science and technology dollars in order to maintain that dominance and then more important thing is to convince the Army to give us those dollars to make the investment.  I feel very, very confident at this point that we are maintaining that over match. There’s a lot of things that I can’t talk about that would just amaze you at some of the things that we have going on.  But at the end of the day, I feel very proud to be an American, very proud to be part of the Army because we’re just doing some wonderful things that protect our citizens.”