By Sharon Watkins-Lang (USASMDC/ARSTRAT Historian)January 13, 2015
With the Jan. 7 retirement of Laurence "Larry" Burger, the first and only director of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Future Warfare Center to date, it is fitting to take this opportunity to look at the history of the organization.
Twenty years ago, on Jan. 16, 1995, the then U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command established the Missile Defense Battle Integration Center, or BIC, which was a missile defense "battle lab." Described as the brainchild of Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, SMDC commanding general from September 1994 to October 1996, the BIC combined elements from the Engineering and Systems Directorate, in particular the Extended Air Defense Testbed, or EADTB, under the direction of Dr. Robin Buckelew. The BIC was a unique innovation with strong support, and as Garner stated, "She [Dr. Buckelew] works directly for me. That's how strongly I feel about this."
Identified in June 1994 as the Army's Theater Missile Defense Advocate, the command sought to develop a "battle lab" to integrate the four pillars of TMD identified as Active Defense, Passive Defense, Attack Operations and Battle Management, Command, Control and Communications. Garner hoped that a battle lab would facilitate the transition of missile defense initiatives from concept to reality. Similarly, he envisioned developing Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations to address near-term concepts.
These proposals were to be achieved through tests and exercises employing both live and simulated forces. The EADTB, for example, connected Army, Air Force and Navy systems, to create a synthetic theater of war with hardware-in-the-loop simulators, training simulators, and live command and control systems "for comprehensive simulation of all activities on the battlefield."
Although not yet technically a battle lab, as Buckelew explained, the BIC would provide facilities to simulate and test equipment and tactics. In addition to the exercises, Soldiers would address training and operational planning requirements as TMD models were developed and deployed. Buckelew also noted that "the BIC [would] also be responsible for evaluating the performance and cost effectiveness of new technologies in research and development for the Army."
Within that first year, the BIC saw many achievements. The beryllium cryogenic off-axis telescope (seeker) was successfully tested in the Portable Radiation Testbed for Seekers. Meanwhile an engineering team visited Fort McClellan, Ala., to gain first-hand knowledge of the techniques employed for decontamination from nuclear, biological or chemical exposure to ensure that missile defense and tactical missile systems could operate in the most restrictive of conditions.
The Analysis Division was later appointed lead on the Army portion of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense study. Concept demonstration explored automatic target recognition algorithms. The Extended Air Defense Simulation participated in exercises around the globe while others addressed Force XXI and the Institutional Army Functional Area Assessment. The effectiveness of the BIC was soon recognized, and in 1997 it transitioned to become the Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab.