REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Members of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense welcomed the U.S. Strategic Command's leader as he travelled to Huntsville.

Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USSTRATCOM commander, visited Redstone Arsenal as well as officiated the Change of Command Aug. 12.

"I was delighted to officiate the JFCC IMD and USASMDC/ARSTRAT Change of Command ceremonies," Kehler said. "We said farewell to Lt. Gen. (Richard) Formica and thanked him for his tremendous contributions over a 36-year career. We also welcomed Lt. Gen. David Mann as he takes command of one of our most vital components."

After the Change of Command, Kehler then travelled to the Reagan Operations Center -- Huntsville, or ROC-H, to visit with Soldiers and civilians who control the Reagan Test Site located at U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and its mission of monitoring space and missile operations.

"I am always delighted to get around and see the folks who are doing the mission," Kehler said. "This mission is important; it's a critical part of our space surveillance activities and part of our space surveillance network. Plus, I am especially intrigued by the fact that we are doing a lot of range operations from Huntsville now out to Kwajalein. It is very promising and it says a lot for future operations in other places."

Kehler talked about his impressions of the Reagan Operations Center and what the facility provides to STRATCOM and to the defense of the nation.

"This is an impressive facility," Kehler said. "The technology available in the ROC will enhance the space and missile defense mission and our ability to make decisions in a timely manner. The ROC ensures our capabilities and assets are working correctly to defend our nation, as well as allies and deployed forces."

After briefing Kehler on space operations, one Soldier said he informed the general on how the facility monitors missile defense testing in the Pacific Ocean and what it provides to the nation.

"It was quite humbling to be able to brief someone at the STRATCOM commander's level on the operations we do with respect to space and the space surveillance network," said Maj. Christopher L. Fairley, Reagan Test Site Space Operations Center in Huntsville space operations technical monitor. "It was good to get his perspective and to have him come here and support what we do, both for missile and for space, is great."

As Kehler received a briefing on what happens at ROC-H, he was informed of the many ways the facility provides up-to-date information for the nation's space warriors and allows SMDC to continue to remain as the Army's force modernization proponent for space, global missile defense and high altitude, and as the Army's operational integrator for global missile defense.

"I gave the general a brief overview of what ROC-H is and how we support homeland defense and the nation," said Martin Sargent, Reagan Test Site-Huntsville director. "I briefed more specifically to the test side of what we do. I told him why the RTS and Kwajalein Atoll are in a great location for the support we provide. It gives flexibility to our customers to come out and be flexible while expanding the envelope of testing.

"Any time we get someone of STRATCOM's caliber to come into our facility is a good thing," he added. "It gives us a chance to show him what piece we play and how we contribute to the defense to the nation."

As the STRATCOM commander was learning about ROC-H from the experts, he was informed of its vital mission in America's challenges concerning missile defense.

"Today's visit shows the importance of SMDC/ARSTRAT and our mission and provides us an opportunity to reflect to the general what we are doing in support of STRATCOM," said Timothy Kirchner, RTS-Huntsville technical director. "We also got some feedback on how he sees, in the big picture, our contributions are important to him and the Warfighter."

The visit to ROC-H was Kehler's first as the STRATCOM commander, and after he departed, the facility's senior military member reiterated the importance of having the unified combatant commander visit the Soldiers and civilians who play a major role in missile defense.

"The best thing we get out of today's visit is visibility directly to the STRATCOM commander for a number of missions," said Lt. Col. Brian T. Soldon, U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll and Reagan Test Site deputy commander (CONUS), Kwajalein support director and RTS space operation director. "It is very important for the four-star commander to understand what we do here, and as he told us, it's impressive. He thanked us for what we are doing and the fact that he came here was something that we appreciate."

Before leaving, Kehler took a moment to show his appreciation for what the Soldiers and civilians at SMDC do for the defense of the country.

"Thanks for what you do," Kehler said. "Every single day you do something important for all of the joint team and it is always a pleasure for me to come and visit. I think that between missile defense and space activities, those are two growth areas for the U.S. military, because of the critical importance of space for our warfighting activities for our country's national security, and also because we see with the proliferation of ballistic missiles that there are going to be ballistic missile threats against our country, our allies and our forward forces for as far as we can see into the future. This is an important place and the Soldiers and civilians do an important job for the nation."