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Missile defense experts meet in Hawaii

by Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
Air Force News Agency

7/17/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Missile defense experts from all over the Pacific theater met here July 16 for the four-day 2007 Joint Interface Control Officer Conference.

Missile defense experts from the Army, Navy and Air Force from Japan, Hawaii and California who had worked together virtually met , but face to face during the conference.

Phone, e-mail and teleconference are all good tools, but nothing can replace the networking that you get done face to face, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chuck Davenport, a joint interface control officer from the 3rd Fleet in San Diego.

"You get to know the individual that you're working with," he said. "You get to know what that person's character is so you can forge a stronger working relationship."

This is the second missile defense conference at Hickam Air Force Base. The first was held in 2006, partly in response to real-world events.

In July 2006, North Korean forces test-fired seven missiles, including the long-range Taepodong-2. In the fall, North Korea exploded its first nuclear device. For the United States and its partners in the Pacific, these acts emphasized the importance of a Pacific theater ballistic missile defense system.

The Joint Interface Control Officer Conference fosters joint teamwork by bringing members of different services together to work toward the shared goal of planning and implementing ballistic missile defense.

"None of us can stand alone," said Lt. Col. Harold Weimer, the deputy commander of 13th Air Force in Japan. "It takes everybody. It takes a joint fight wherever we go." 

Army Brig. Gen. John E. Seward, the commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, opened the conference by stressing the importance of joint efforts. 

The key to effective ballistic missile defense is cooperation between the military services, he said.

"It's kind of like a football team," General Seward said. "Everybody brings their own skills -- their own assets -- to the game. Maybe the Army's got good blocking, and the Air Force might have a guy who can throw a pass, but if you don't work together and practice, you're never going to be that team that's going to win a game.

"You have to work it together and spend that time now so that when we do have a contingency, people know each other," he said. "They know who's on the other end of that phone and they can make things happen."

U.S. Pacific Command is taking a lead role in ballistic missile defense, as the only theater with an air and missile defense command.

The knowledge experts share here in Hawaii won't stay here, General Seward said.

"We can take the lessons learned in this theater and apply them in other theaters across the globe," he said. 

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