CLEF brings community leaders to SMDC
June 11, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command hosted a Community Leadership Engagement Forum June 10 to inform local community leaders about what the command contributes to national defense.
During the CLEF, community leaders from North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley spent the day at USASMDC/ARSTRAT's Redstone Arsenal headquarters receiving briefs and seeing what the command does firsthand.
Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, SMDC commanding general, gave a command overview that included the command's messages as well as how the command contributes to the local and regional communities. He explained how different the command is from other tenants on Redstone Arsenal.
As the CLEF continued, Mann's deputy discussed the importance of local leaders participating and learning about the command.
"The importance for the command was sharing with the community the significance and importance of the mission of this command, which by most accounts was not as well known as it should have been," said Ronald E. Chronister, SMDC deputy to the commander. "This was a great opportunity for us to share with community leadership what we do, how we are different from some other commands out here and the significant operational mission that we perform for our country.
"A lot of hard work by the command team went into putting this together," he added. "We knew the importance of today, and I think the community leaders will take our message out into their communities and other places. That will be helpful to us in the future."
The visitors were taken on a tour of the command's Battle Laboratory; the Concepts Analysis Laboratory, where they interacted with local university students and received a briefing and demonstration on nanosatellites and space support kits; and learned about the Future Warfare Center's Geospatial Information Interoperability Exploitation-Portable, or GIIEP, system.
They learned how SMDC is providing assistance to more than just Warfighters in the field, and the guests had live interaction with Soldiers assigned to the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska.
The visitors learned how users of the GIIEP technology can enable greater use of space-based, aerial and terrestrial imagery to support homeland domestic events and first response operations. One example was how the technology was used to support civil authorities in the Tennessee Valley shortly after the tornadoes in April 2011.
Also for CLEF, Army Astronauts Col. Shane Kimbrough and Col. Mark Vande Hei came from SMDC's NASA Detachment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to remind the community about the Army and the command's commitment to space operations.
"We wanted to be a part of this with the command and the local and state leaders," Kimbrough said. "We wanted to help educate them on all of the SMDC capabilities and what role the astronaut detachment plays in the command. It is great to come home to SMDC, and I am honored to play a part in today's event.
"We got a chance to really let folks know who we are and that we actually have Army officers who are astronauts, and we got to educate them on who we are, what upcoming missions we are doing, and also what NASA's future holds," he added.
The distinguished community leaders participating in the CLEF were: Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, Alabama State Senate 2nd District; Rep. Mike Ball, Alabama House of Representatives 10th District; Rep. Laura Hall, Alabama House of Representatives 19th District; Rep. Howard Sanderford, Alabama House of Representatives 20th District; Joe Fitzgerald, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; Lisa Montgomery, office of Sen. Jeff Sessions; Carrie Suggs, office of Senator Richard Shelby; Kathy Murray, office of Congressman Mo Brooks; Tiffany Noel, office of Congressman Mo Brooks; Gerald Tucker, Alabama Army Reserve ambassador; Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning; Dale Strong, Madison County Commission chairman; Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; Grant DeMuth, Guntersville Economic Development director; Harrison Diamond, office of the mayor of Huntsville; Lewis Morris, Huntsville chief of police; Dr. Marilyn Beck, Calhoun Community College president; Dr. Helen McAlpine, J.F. Drake State and Technical College president; retired Brig. Gen. Robert A. Drolet, Madison County Veterans Memorial chairman; Kris McBride, Redstone Arsenal/Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army president; Chip Cherry, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO; and Mike Ward, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for government and public affairs.
As the community leaders left the command, Battle spoke of the new knowledge he had gained about SMDC and how the day reiterated his beliefs that the organizations on Redstone Arsenal are key to surrounding communities, as well as national defense.
"It was a wonderful visit," Battle said. "This is the defense of the country. When we start talking about what space and missile defense does and how it protects us against threats that are out there. It is a very special thing to know that it is centered and headquartered right here in your hometown, it makes you very proud.
"The biggest thing is that we have a very highly technical group who is looking at all aspects of how they can protect this country," he added. "Beyond missile defense, they are going to address much larger technological advances to make sure that our country is safe, and it makes you sleep better at night knowing that you have these guys on your side."
With the CLEF ending, Fitzgerald took the time to point out how important it is for SMDC to engage with local leaders and remind them how important the command is to the defense of the nation.
"It is very important for community leadership to understand the importance of what is going on here at SMDC, and this is a magnificent mechanism to do that," Fitzgerald said. "Heretofore, these community leaders from across northern Alabama did not have a consensus opinion or idea about what work goes on here and how important it is to our national defense. They do now, I assure you.
"Furthermore, this goes a long way toward ensuring the future of SMDC in the mindset of these leaders on how important it is," he added. "This is a national treasure we have here in North Alabama, and I know they get that."