SMDC History: Marshall signs Safeguard operations plan

By Sharon Watkins Lang, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Historical OfficeOctober 22, 2014

SMDC History: Marshall signs Safeguard operations plan
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Taken in July 1975, this image shows the missile site radar with its associated missile field equipped with Sprint and Spartan interceptors, power plant and heat sink at the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard complex in Nekoma, N.D.,. The MSR site was pa... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
SMDC History: Marshall signs Safeguard operations plan
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. Robert C. Marshall, a U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., graduate and World War II veteran, served as the Ballistic Missile Defense program manager from August 1974 to August 1976. Prior to that, Marshall was the commander, Safeguar... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Maj. Gen. Robert C. Marshall, Ballistic Missile Defense, or BMD, program manager, signed the Safeguard missile defense operations plan that was developed as part of the Ballistic Missile Defense master plan Oct. 23, 1975.

Not unlike today, operational command was exercised by the commander in chief of Aerospace Defense Command, or CINCAD, while the BMD program manager, as the component commander for BMD forces, addressed such areas as "administration, logistics, discipline internal organization or responsibility for unit training," etc.

In fact, "the BMD program manager (exercised) department of the Army executive authority over the ballistic missile defense program" and (exercised) command, less operational command, staff and technical supervision over assigned and participating organizations for planning, direction, and control of the ballistic missile defense program."

The Safeguard operations plan, "outlined how the Army would operate the Safeguard system both during peacetime and wartime. The mission as outlined was twofold: (1) To provide BMD forces to support CINCAD in the protection of a portion of the U.S. land-based deterrent forces and to gain experience in the test and operation of a deployed Safeguard BMD system for application to future BMD systems; and (2) To perform other missions within system capability as directed by CINCAD.

The plan applied to the Safeguard units under the command of the BMDPM and the Army elements participating in the support of the BMD program, as prescribed in letters of instructions or memoranda of agreement. The assigned forces included the Safeguard command at the Stanley R. Mickelson Safeguard complex, or SRMSC, in Nekoma, N.D., and the BMD center in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, Colo., complex, which provided a communications link between CINCAD and the missile direction center at the SRMSC; the Ballistic Missile Defense Systems Command, or BMDSCOM, in Huntsville, Ala.; and the Ballistic Missile Defense Operations Activity, or BMDOA, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Safeguard Command conducted BMD operations in accordance with tactical doctrine and in direct support of the tactical mission -- defend selected retaliatory missiles sites and target areas within Sprint and Spartan capability and support Aerospace Defense Command's space detection and tracking system mission to include anti-satellite operations.

In addition, the Safeguard commander was tasked to operate and maintain all elements of the SRMSC and its auxiliary equipment and provide the necessary onsite nuclear surety of assigned nuclear weapons and their associated circuitry.

Within the context of this plan, BMDSCOM served as the BMD technical and logistics support center, overseeing contracts and contractors, materiel management and financial administration, to ensure that the technical support and tactical logistics support system, which included base operations support, was "fully responsive to the needs of the Safeguard Command."

Other BMDSCOM duties included providing data as part of the ongoing Safeguard operational test and evaluation program, developing a database of Safeguard operational experience planning and lessons learned, overseeing facilities ensuring nuclear surety, safety and system operation, and preparing security policies and evaluating implementation and performance of contractual security functions.

The BMDOA meanwhile worked with the BMDPM to ensure that Safeguard forces were combat ready and provided staff support and planning interface with the Aerospace Defense Command, Strategic Air Command, the Army Training and Doctrine Command, and its BMD counterparts.

Their primary responsibilities were to prepare Safeguard plans, policies and procedures, conduct and administer operational exercises and the evaluation program, and provide staff support in areas of operations, training, security operations, surety, nuclear, biological and chemical and emergency plans.

A series of annexes further clarified responsibilities under this operations order, while the Continental Air Defense Command operational plan 3400, Regulation 55-58, and Manual 55-1 specified the tactical requirements and operations of the BMD system.