JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
The Pacific Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Center hosted the Multilateral IAMD experiment 2021 (MIX-21) with multilateral allies and partners Feb. 14 – 17.
MIX-21 was the sixth iteration of its kind, and was conceived, planned and executed as a follow-on to previous successful annual Pacific Integrated Center (PIC) events promoting theater security cooperation while experimenting with and identifying combined IAMD capabilities and challenges in a multilateral environment.
Representatives of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command participated in the event, providing valuable comments and IAMD expertise to enhance the experience for all members.
"MIX-21 is a regional base defense [experiment] that integrates the defensive systems for each one of the [participating] nations, and it's developed against a peer and near-peer enemy capability that's real to what we could be facing in 2031," said Carlos Betancourt, PIC Partner Engagement Branch Lead. "We do that because we want to ensure that we integrate all the developing capabilities, both friendly and enemy, and provide a realistic view on how to best establish a multilateral defense design for the defense of the U.S. INDOPACOM region."
To make the event possible, the Missile Defense Agency representatives worked countless hours developing the integrated simulation and running the vignettes, according to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Plowman, PIC noncommissioned officer in charge.
"By exercising alongside [allies and partners], we were able to review, develop or change some of the doctrines that are being used by these countries currently," Betancourt said. "The changes were small, yet important enough to shift the paradigm for those countries."
The MIX-21 construct also encompassed a multinational discussion-based, operationally-focused practical exercise driven by specific objectives that participant partners previously developed during the MIX campaign plan. The basis of the experiment is staged in fictional world geography that enables participants to coordinate capabilities alongside friendly forces with current and emergent parameters.
"The value of the event is the discussion and personal interaction – you can't get that from virtual events," said Tiffany Sleep, Deputy Director for the Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program Management Office, Australian Air Force Headquarters. "The sidebar conversations and networking is easily the most beneficial part as it allows continued discussion post-event, which will also allow future integration on exercises."
The experiment's fictional setting also explored general IAMD principles that may apply to future real-world IAMD situations that require participants to respond to scenarios that have a challenging multilaterally developed defense design.
"I think using relevant operational scenarios with technical subject matter experts allows contextual discussions that drive capability user requirements, particularly ensuring the target audience (countries involved) can participate meaningfully rather than be there for the sake of being there," Sleep said. "With a vast range of threat scenarios becoming understood, I think a targeted approach to topics and subject matter experts should be in evaluations."
MIX-21's designers established the event as a venue for open collaboration and exchanges of views and ideas between the multilateral participants invited.
"Knowledge is strength," Sleep said. "Discussion promotes knowledge, [which equals] strength in unity towards an agreed outcome. Collaboration contributes to deterrence against armed conflict, which is ultimately in everyone's interest."
Overall, the MIX-21 event enabled the U.S. to work alongside allied and partner nation participants to experiment with IAMD operational concepts in a non-attributional, multinational environment. In addition, the event facilitates IAMD collaborative training and education opportunities and helps the partner nations involved work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
"Given current world conditions, it's imperative that U.S. INDOPACOM understands that there is an adversary that is closely watching what is going on, what is unfolding in Ukraine and is waiting to see what not only the U.S., but the international community's response is," Betancourt said. "We're looking at how operationally, we can bring our forces together so that we can affect the developing and the emergent capabilities of the enemy quicker to try and deter, deescalate or in the act of war, win the decisive battle."