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On 13 and 14 February 2019, RUSI convened its 19th Missile Defence Conference to examine how policies regarding missile defence must adapt to an era of great power competition. The conference was designed to stimulate discussion on how missile defence as an enterprise will have to undergo an overhaul that is as much a matter of underlying concepts as it is of introducing and incorporating specific technical changes in an era in which the bête noire of international order is no longer rogue states but near-peer challengers.
The event continued some useful discussions from the 2018 Missile Defence Conference regarding the need to overcome stovepiped air and missile defence systems to create genuinely integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) capabilities and explored both the challenges and potential posed by disruptive technologies in the realms of space, cyberspace and AI.
Equally important, however, was an effort by participants to situate the role of missile defence in a wider competitive strategy. Two key themes were identified at the strategic level – the utility of limited theatre-level IAMD in the context of limited and grey-zone conflicts and the need to nest missile defence within the framework of strategic counterforce.
BANNER IMAGE: Two THAAD interceptors and a Standard-Missile 3 Block IA missile are launched during a flight test near the US Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site, 2013. Courtesy of Missile Defense Agency/U.S. Indo-Pacific Command