SMDC Commander Praises Local Science Community
January 15, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In his first speaking appearance at the annual membership luncheon of the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association on Jan. 7, Lt. Gen. David Mann expressed his appreciation for the group's recognition of the area's scientists and engineers, and for its efforts in encouraging local students to study the sciences in pursuit of future careers.
"ASMDA has a great history of not only providing support to the space and missile defense community, but, just as important, it has a great track record of support to our brightest and most deserving students through scholarships, through Space Camp and through Adventures in Engineering," he said.
"It is through your continued efforts -- and other service organizations -- that we have a vibrant space and missile defense community."
Mann, who became commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in August just one day before the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium, told the luncheon attendees that he was proud to be part of the luncheon's recognition of scientists and engineers from SMDC/ARSTRAT as well as from the Missile Defense Agency, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Aviation and Missile Command, and Marshall Space Flight Center. They were recognized for technical achievements that impact the nation's space and missile defense programs.
"Your professionalism and expertise set you apart from the rest," he said. "Thank you for what you provide to space and missile defense."
The lieutenant general went on to say ASMDA and its 2014 award recipients are part of a "great community serving the war fighter and keeping America free. You truly represent the best we have in the industry."
During the past year, ASMDA has provided 16 full scholarships for 9-to-11-year-olds to attend Space Camp; awarded four Loretta Spencer Scholarships and one General Dodgen Memorial Academic Scholarship to college; awarded four academic scholarships from the Loretta Spencer College/University Scholarship Program to the Calhoun Community College Scholarship Foundation to encourage students in the initial two years of college to pursue engineering, science and math degrees; co-sponsored the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium; supported such SMDC/ARSTRAT events as its Non-Commissioned and Soldier of the Year program and its Army birthday celebrated; provided grants to support local community events for veterans; and presented space and missile defense technical achievement and service excellence awards.
Mann was especially impressed by ASMDA's efforts to encourage the study of STEM (science, technology, education and math) subjects at all grade levels.
"You do all this to encourage kids to consider engineering, math and science. STEM is a priority to the Army as well as to the other services," he said. "Getting kids involved and interested in STEM ensures not only the security of our nation but also the prosperity of our nation."
Mann, who served as commander of the Army's Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., before joining the SMDC/ARSTRAT team, reviewed with his audience the state of "America's Army."
The Army, he said, "continues to perform challenging operations in Afghanistan and around the world. As we sit here today, nearly 63,000 U.S. Army Soldiers are deployed to contingency operation with about 35,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan alone."
There are more than 86,000 Soldiers stationed in nearly 120 countries, he said. Of those, SMDC/ARSTRAT has about 900 forces that are U.S.-based, forward-stationed or deployed in support of the nation's space and missile defense mission.
In October, the chief of staff of the Army issued five strategic priorities that provide direction for the force. They are: building adaptive leaders for a complex world; providing a globally responsive and regionally engaged Army; providing a ready and modern Army; ensuring Soldiers are committed to our Army profession; and maintaining the premier all-volunteer Army.
There are concerns within the Army, Mann said, that less than 25 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are qualified to become a Soldier.
"Moral issues, physical issues, educational issues disqualify them. In our nation, we have an epidemic of kids who don't finish school," he said.
But Mann is confident that even with a Department of Defense drawdown from a "wartime manpower time," the Army will execute its priorities. That will be more possible, he said, with the critical capabilities that SMDC/ARSTRAT provides the war fighter.
"We continue to remain focused on providing critical capabilities to the war fighter, the geographic combatant commanders, and to our nation," Mann said. "We are uniquely organized, and geographically well-positioned, and regionally aligned in support of the Army's effort to align and provide forces to combatant commanders."
SMDC/ARSTRAT accomplishments for 2013 included: deploying six Army Space Support Teams and two Commercial Imagery Teams to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, bringing to 87 the number of teams deployed since the start of combat operations to integrate space capabilities into the plan operations of units engaged in combat operations; Joint Tactical Ground Station Soldiers continue to provide early missile warning to the combatant commanders in areas around the world; and Commercial Imagery Team Soldiers provided more than 54,000 unclassified space-based imagery products to ground forces as well as our allies.
In addition, SMDC's 53rd Signal Battalion Soldiers at five Wideband Satellite Operation Centers continued to provide payload and transmissions control for 11 communications satellites; SMDC supported the launch and on-orbit testing of two Wideband Global SATCOM satellites WGS 5 and WGS-6, and a second narrowband satellite called Mobile User Objective System; helped to provide wideband satellite communications globally through partnerships with Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia.
SMDC also provided support of worldwide operations involving Hurricane Henriette, Super Typhoon Haiyan and the Boston bombings; and its missile defense Soldiers continued to operate the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system at Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
"Fort Greely, Alaska, is home to 300 Soldiers protecting 300 million Americans. Those young Americans up there are the only defense this country has from ballistic missiles coming from North Korea," Mann said.
SMDC's Friendly Force Tracking data services continued to provide real-time situational awareness of friendly forces on the battlefield. It is also used to track the position of first responders and other personnel during disaster response and high profile events. In 2013, it was used to support first responders at the Black Forest Fire in Colorado and other Western wildfires, the 2013 presidential inauguration and relief operations for Super Typhoon Haiyan.
SMDC continued to support site selection and operational employment of the Army/Navy Transportable Radar Surveillance forward base mode radars. Technical training, testing and development continued in support of all SMDC/ARSTRAT missions.
"This command is committed to the nation, to the war fighters, to the combatant commands out there" in the areas of communication support, situational awareness and missile defense, Mann said.
"The SMDC/ARSTRAT team has been, and continues to be engaged in providing the critical space and missile defense capabilities so necessary to the defense of our nation."