By Jason B. Cutshaw (USASMDC/ARSTRAT)July 7, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Soldiers and civilians played an important role in a recent missile defense test executed by numerous Department of Defense agencies.
A Capability Enhancement II (CE-II) ground-based interceptor (GBI) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., June 22 and successfully intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile target launched from the U.S. Army's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The engagement took place over the Pacific Ocean, completing an integrated exercise of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the nation's Ballistic Missile Defense System.
"This is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland ballistic missile defense system," said Vice Adm. James D. Syring, Missile Defense Agency director. "We'll continue efforts to ensure our deployed ground-based interceptors and our overall homeland defensive architecture continue to provide the Warfighter an effective and dependable system to defend the country.
"I am very proud of the government and industry team conducting the test today," he added. "Their professionalism and dedication made this test a success."
A number of defense organizations participated in the joint exercise. They included the Missile Defense Agency; U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing; USASMDC/ARSTRAT's 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense); Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD); U.S. Northern Command, (USNORTHCOM); and the U.S. Navy. The various agencies will conduct extensive evaluations based on data they received during the test.
Lt. Gen. David L. Mann serves as the commanding general of SMDC, which is the Army Service Component Command to U.S. Strategic Command. SMDC provides continuous oversight, control, planning, integration and coordination of Army forces while conducting space and missile defense operations in support of USSTRATCOM missions such as strategic deterrence, integrated missile defense and space operations.
In addition, Mann serves as the commander of JFCC IMD, which is responsible for planning and coordinating USSTRATCOM's global operations and support for integrated missile defense.
"This represents the first successful engagement with the CE-II and significantly enhances Warfighter confidence in this strategic capability," Mann said. "Although extensive data analysis remains, early indications are that virtually all Warfighter objectives were successfully achieved."
Supporting the launch from Huntsville, Ala., were members of SMDC assigned to the Reagan Operations Center -- Huntsville, or ROC-H. Soldiers and civilians assigned to the ROC-H control sensors at the RTS.
ROC-H is the command and control facility for missile defense testing and for space operations at RTS despite being more than 6,500 miles from Kwajalein.
"The mission was a resounding success by the RTS team," said Timothy E. Kirchner, RTS technical director. "RTS served as the target lead range, providing support for infrastructure and logistics, flight and ground safety, instrumentation for tracking and data recording including radar, telemetry, optical tracking systems.
"RTS performed command and control of the RTS support for the mission from the ROC-H with a highly skilled government and contractor technical work force," he added. "The success of RTS was due to the dedicated efforts by the entire RTS team of professionals who worked tirelessly to ensure every detail of the mission was planned and rehearsed and that the instrumentation was upgraded and maintained appropriately to ensure success."
About six minutes after target launch, the ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A three-stage booster rocket system propelled the interceptor's CE-II exoatmospheric kill vehicle, or EKV, into the target missile's projected trajectory in space. The kill vehicle maneuvered to the target, performed discrimination, and intercepted the threat warhead with "hit to kill" technology, using only the force of the direct collision between the interceptor and the target to pulverize the target warhead.
An operational crew of Soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Bde., located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., remotely launched the interceptor.
As a subordinate unit of SMDC, the brigade is a multi-component (active component and Army National Guard) unit that operates the Ground-based Midcourse Defense fire control system, provides positive operational control of interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, and ensures the protective security of the Fort Greely missile defense complex.
"The recent Ground-based Midcourse Defense intercept test represents yet another important benchmark for the 100th Missile Defense Bde.," said Col. Edward E. Hildreth III, 100th MDB commander. "It reinforced key mission command functions supporting USNORTHCOM and confidence in the performance of our no-fail mission of defending the homeland against a limited ICBM attack."
The brigade Missile Defense Element, located at Schriever Air Force Base, is essentially the same as the Fire Direction Center at the 49th Missile Defense Battalion. The MDE and FDC are the locations where the GMD fire control workstations are located, thus that is where the missile defense crews are located.
During the flight test, the on-duty senior tactical director said, as one of 10 missile defense directors, he felt that every successful flight test builds confidence and trust with the interceptors they use to defend the nation against ballistic missile attack. It reaffirms that the GMD system is reliable and will ultimately enable them to accomplish their mission of protecting families, friends and fellow Americans.
The director said the skills his crew members possess, coupled with their close relationship with USNORTHCOM and the developmental community allows the unit to defend the nation 24/7/365 in perpetuity.
"I am extremely proud of our Missile Defense Element crews," Hildreth said. "The Charlie Crew senior tactical director and his Charlie crew performed flawlessly. Frankly, we could have plugged in any one of our five MDE crews to support the test and we would have achieved the same results. It is a testimony to their collective crew skills and readiness."