NATO Military Committee visits US Navy Destroyer with Ballistic Missile Defence Capabilities
General Knud Bartels, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, together with members of the Military Committee, visited USS Laboon on 29 February 2012, accompanied by General Stéphane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, where they were welcomed by Rear Admiral David M. Thomas Jr., Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
NATO's senior military were briefed by the Commander of the ship on the destroyer's capabilities, especially in the area of Missile Defence, a key mission for the Alliance. The ship belongs to the Arleigh Burke-class in the United States Navy, the same class as the four destroyers already designated by the US to be deployed in Rota, Spain, as part of the Ballistic Missile Defence system. The four ships will move from their current home in the United States to the US base at Rota in Spain, in the next three years.
NATO Missile Defence is core to NATO's concept of Smart Defence, where nations share commitment and capabilities, merging resources in order to better address common security challenges. At the NATO Summit in Chicago next May 2012, Heads of State and Government are expected to declare interim capability for NATO's Missile Defence System.
The USS Laboon's Ballistic Missile Defence capabilities are also a good example of a design belonging to another high profile concept, the Connected Forces Initiative. This initiative mobilises all of NATO’s resources to strengthen the Allies’ ability to work together in a truly connected way. In this context, because of the way Ballistic Missile Defence is structured, it allows nations to plug into the system as required, enhancing its overall capability - "...possibly on a rotational basis between different nations," Gen. Bartels highlighted at the Press Conference on USS Laboon, as he underlined the requirement for a Missile Defence capability in the face of 21st Century security threats and challenges.