Czech Mates

By John Liang / June 10, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a science and technology cooperation agreement with his counterpart from the Czech Republic today. According to the American Forces Press Service:

In a ceremony held at the U.S. mission to NATO, Gates and Czech Defense Minister Martin Bartak signed documents that provide the legal framework for engagement and cooperation in a variety of science and technology projects, including research, development, testing and evaluation.

“I see this agreement as a manifestation of our relationship with the Czech Republic and our view of the Czech Republic as a valued ally,” Gates said at the signing ceremony.

The memorandum of understanding means the two countries have agreed on a general framework that will be followed by separate agreements on specific projects. Asked after the ceremony if those future projects include missile defense, Gates said today’s memorandum does not include any specific initiatives, but that missile defense could be a future project.

Bartak noted that the agreement covers more than defense-related research and development. It proves, he said, that cooperation between the United States and the Czech Republic is ongoing, and will continue. reported in April that the Pentagon's Joint Staff had begun a new "Joint Capability Mix" study to look at the Obama administration's "phased adaptive approach" to missile defense in Europe and its implications for the Defense Department's weapons, sensors and systems requirements.

The Obama administration last fall scrapped plans for a ground-based ballistic missile defense system championed by the Bush White House. That plan envisioned interceptors stationed in Poland and a radar site located in the Czech Republic. The Pentagon's new plan, dubbed the "phased adaptive approach," is to field a network of ship-based BMD capabilities in Europe within a few years and introduce land-based interceptors later this decade.

According to Navy Rear Adm. Archer Macy, director of the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization, the "Joint Capability Mix III" study is scheduled for completion by April of next year.

"With the advent of the phased adaptive approach (PAA) for missile defense, we are embarking on a new round of analysis to understand the implications of that decision on our needs for sensors, weapons and systems," Macy told the Senate Armed Services Committee April 20. "The PAA concept will be applied in the different areas of responsibility of the combatant commanders, and each will have their own needs for how to accomplish their ballistic missile defense responsibilities. In order to integrate these needs across the department, we are the initial stages of conducting the next round of analysis in this area with Joint Capability Mix III."

The previous Joint Capability Mix study, JCM II, was conducted in 2007 to examine theater upper-tier missile defense requirements. That study concluded that combatant commanders would need nearly twice as many interceptors as the 96 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors and 133 Standard Missile-3 interceptors that were then planned.

The new study "will be, if you will, a repeat, where we look at scenarios across . . . three regions, compare them against the COCOMs' warfighting plans, and then understand what are the implications," Macy told the committee.