Gen. Harrigian: Building muscle memory combining forces for NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, Commander Allied Air Command (head of table) chaired the tabletop exercise. He was joined by his leadership team from Allied Air Command and senior colleagues from multi-domain Allied commands for comprehensive discussions and practical decision-making in preparation of upcoming Integrated Air and Missile Defense exercises. Photo by Sébastien Raffin.

Commanders from Allied Air Command alongside colleagues from NATO Maritime Command and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO participated in a scenario-based tabletop exercise, February 16-17. The focus for the exercise was the current Integrated Air and Missile Defense mission and how to adapt new systems in defense of the Alliance. 

“We build our muscle memory when combining NATO forces and rehearsing in these challenging joint exercises,” said Gen. Jeffery Harrigian, Commander, Allied Air Command. “When we practice together, we prepare our joint team to be ready to integrate across all domains,” he added.

During the two-day exercise, commanders focused on critical decision-making from the political to the military level. This was enabled through a scenario that explored the transition from peacetime to crisis, highlighting the speed and accuracy of coordination across a multi-domain environment. Specifically, Air-Maritime integration is a crucial component of first line of defense.

“The team have again delivered an outstanding effort, the work during this tabletop exercise will reap benefits during later exercises like At Sea Demo and Formidable Shield,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Allied Air Command. “Exercises like these test our plans and procedures ensuring we are ready to deliver a truly coordinated and collective defense for the Alliance,” he added.

The IAMD exercise is part of a series of events throughout 2021 that aims to test the readiness of NATO and national forces, alongside Allied Air Command’s ability to deliver this vital mission. The ability for commanders to exercise defense plans in realistic scenarios assures NATO’s capability to deliver a credible IAMD which is essential to the Alliance’s collective defense.

Ballistic Missile Defense is a standing 24/7 mission that Allied Air Command coordinates. It is an integral part of the larger IAMD mission to protect Allied populations, territory and forces in response to increasing threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. NATO IAMD is purely defensive and designed to defeat threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.