PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Nine Soldiers graduated from the Ground Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Operator Qualification Course in Colorado Springs Nov. 8.

These students participated in the seven-week program of instruction under the tutelage of instructors from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Directorate of Training and Doctrine.

The students will be assigned to the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska, and the 100th Missile Defense Brigade at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

The students ranged in rank from specialist to major. Collectively, they achieved a class average of 97.6 percent on eight graded closed book written examinations. They also achieved perfect scores on three performance tests, which were graded on a "GO/NO-GO" standard.

The course teaches Soldiers how to defend the homeland from incoming intercontinental ballistic missile attack. Students learn the behavior of the GMD weapon system, including sensors, communications and shooters and how the system of systems works together to defend the nation.

They also learn how to operate the system by practicing in a lab designed to replicate the nodes they will work in and how the computer allocates missiles to conduct an intercept in the midcourse phase of an enemy attack. The students are required to brief instructors and classmates on threat engagements, to include predictive analysis of weapon system performance.

Graduation was held on Peterson Air Force Base, and Brig. Gen. Don Laucirica, Land Component commander, Colorado National Guard, served as the graduation speaker for class 12-002. Also in attendance were Col. Edward Hildreth, 100th Missile Defense Bde. commander, and Col. Greg Bowen, deputy commander for support. Jim Traverse, GQC course manager, presented certificates to the graduates; Tim Deramus, GQC instructor, narrated the ceremony; and Mark James served as proffer.

The class honor graduate was class leader Maj. Andrew Cornwell, with a grade point average of 99.8 percent. Maj. Kyriakos "Kit" Sarafis, Capt. Jason Brewer, Capt. Bernard Smith, 1st Lt. Luis Lugo, 2nd Lt. Mindy Cason, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jacob Moore, Sgt. Benjamin Maye and Spc. Mark Risner are the other graduates.