REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Since first-hand experience is the best teacher of all, one U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command leader hit the ground to visit the command's assets and meet its partner commands.

Richard DeFatta, who stepped into the role of Future Warfare Center's acting director earlier this month, toured all of the command's assets in Germany Aug. 28 to Sept. 2 and met with a number of commands USASMDC/ARSTRAT supports with those assets.

"It was great to see our Soldiers and civilians in action and see the facilities where they perform their important missions," DeFatta said. "I also appreciated the opportunity to visit all of the different pieces that we support with our satellite communications and support for operations overseas."

During their visit, DeFatta and his team visited the Regional Satellite Communication Support Center-Europe, operated by the command's G-6 information technology office; the Joint Tactical Ground Station-Europe, operated by the 1st Space Battalion; the Wideband Satellite Operations Center, operated by the 53rd Signal Battalion; and the Sensor Management Cell, operated by 100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldiers.

"Some of the work we do in the FWC is to do force generation and support requirements and requirements development. It gives me a better perspective to see the Soldiers in action and not just to take reports on what they're doing," DeFatta said. "It also gives me a better understanding for the importance of their work and some of the shortfalls and potential ways we can help them with their mission."

The WSOC's commander Capt. Jessica Yahn said that the visit was beneficial for both the visitors and those visited.

"It was our privilege to host Mr. DeFatta and his team," Yahn said. "I think there is huge value in having the leaders of the Future Warfare Center efforts, research and development, and program management visit our locations to get the ground truth on current capabilities and capability requirements."

The WSOC is putting the final touches on its new facility, with a ribbon cutting slated for November. DeFatta is among the first to see the facility nearly complete.

"It was great to see the new facility and meet with the Soldiers and hear about their mission," DeFatta said. "It was a great opportunity to get an orientation on what these Soldiers do on a day-to-day basis. This is a very dedicated and motivated company. Their professionalism shone through."

The team also visited leadership at U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Army Europe, and the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

"I wanted to provide a senior-level interface with our supported customers," DeFatta said. "As we continue to do some of our fielding work in both space and global ballistic missile defense areas, it's important to engage with the senior leaders in the areas of responsibility.

"Overall it was a very educational trip," DeFatta said. "I've got a much better appreciation for our Soldiers' requirements and needs. I'll be able to take this knowledge and interject that understanding into our day-to-day operations and interface with other parts of SMDC."

Photo by Carrie E. David (SMDC/ARSTRAT)
Capt. Jessica Yahn, commander, Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion, briefs Richard DeFatta, acting director, Future Warfare Center, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and his team during a site visit to the company's Wideband Satellite Operations Center in Germany Aug. 31. With them are 1st Sgt. Christopher Mann, Company C first sergeant, left, and Col. Matthew Tedesco, director, SMDC's Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager for Global Ballistic Missile Defense. Other team members not pictured are: Lorenzo Mack, FWC deputy director, Ken South, SMDC, and Phil Speth, Missile Defense Agency.