REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Two security specialists were recognized by the Army for their dedication in securing the high ground.

Joy Assent, Security Division chief, Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2), presented the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Joseph S. DiNoto and Michal D. Gussie with the Army's top two security awards during a ceremony at the command's headquarters Sept. 23.

DiNoto, who received the Thomas Dillon Award for Security Excellence, serves as the USASMDC/ARSTRAT chief security officer, and Gussie, who received the Kenneth C. Raymer Award for Excellence in Foreign Disclosure, serves as the deputy command foreign disclosure officer.

"I am here on behalf of Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., the Army (deputy chief of staff) G-2, and the Army G-2 family to honor two very well-deserved professionals in the security and foreign disclosure arenas," Assent said. "Having been in this career field for more than 20 years, I often liken security and foreign disclosure to insurance. Sometimes people don't appreciate them until they really need them. And unfortunately it often takes a major tragedy or some kind of scandal for us to bring to the forefront the importance of protecting our information, our personnel and our vital resources.

"Every day security officers and foreign disclosure officers work behind the scenes supporting some of the most critical and sensitive Army and Department of Defense missions that many don't know about," she added. "And if they are doing their jobs properly, we shouldn't know about them."

Assent serves as the senior DA security activities and policy officer and Army functional manager for development and oversight of worldwide Army security policy, plans and programs.

"Today SMDC has the great distinction of employing two individuals who are receiving the Army's top awards in the same year that was specifically established to recognize those who represent the highest standards in security and foreign disclosure," she added. "I want to drive home that this is a big deal."

DiNoto said he was thrilled for this command and for the security staff here to receive the honor. He said that in his opinion it is a true testament to the professional standards, organizational dedication, and operational focus that the command's G-24 Security Operations Division. He said that considering SMDC is a globally significant Army Service Component Command with a strategic mission, it feels very rewarding to have this type of affirmation from the highest level of the Department of the Army recognizing their mission in protecting its most sensitive activities, technologies and operations.

The Thomas Dillon Award for Security Excellence is an annual honorary award to an Army security professional for outstanding contributions and performance in support of security programs that further the Army's security posture and protect national defense information. The award is designed to reflect unique and important contributions made by Army security professionals and is a way to recognize, celebrate and take pride in their achievements.

"I was utterly shocked when I was officially notified," DiNoto said. "I'm just very humbled and honored that I've been blessed with the privilege of leading the security enterprise for an organization as dynamic, globally operational, and strategically relevant as SMDC."

DiNoto also thanked his wife who he said has been a devoted supporter of his work, the missions within each of the commands he has been associated with, and the spirit of what makes Team Redstone the garrison of the future.

"Her volunteer work and emphasis on our family's dedication to the Redstone Arsenal community has been humbling and motivational to me as a public servant," he said. "Our family feels very blessed to be a part of such a great command and to live here as members of the Team Redstone family."

The award was presented to DiNoto for exceptionally meritorious service from June 2013 to December 2015, while serving as chief security officer for SMDC. His efforts enabled the command to counter emerging threats. DiNoto implemented a training regimen to prepare security professionals for certification exams and established a supply chain risk management program to mitigate cyber-sabotage efforts directed against sensitive research and development programs.

He also initiated the development of a comprehensive protection strategy to safeguard the development of the advanced hypersonic weapon program and instituted a command risk management strategy, which resulted in a cost savings of $44 million.

"These awards are a recognition that the G-2's human capital investment is truly our greatest strength and most treasured asset," DiNoto said. "This investment in our people has paid off very well for this command and we have our senior leaders to truly thank for that level of emphasis and their visionary support."

Besides receiving the 2015 Thomas Dillon Award, DiNoto was also the 2007 recipient of the Kenneth C. Raymer Award.

"This is the first time ever in the history of both the Thomas Dillon Award and the Kenneth C. Raymer Award's existence that a single command has ever been conferred with both distinctions either concurrently in the same evaluation year or consecutively at any point in time since the awards were first established," DiNoto said. "For any two individuals from the same command being honored with this distinction ever is unprecedented at any point in time, let alone in the very same year."

"On a separate but very personal note, for Mich Gussie to receive this award as a member of this staff at the same time I'm being recognized, is fulfilling to me in a very personal way," he added. "I could not be more proud of him nor could I be more proud to lead the great men and women of the G-24 during this period of time for our collective efforts to be recognized in such a special way."

The Kenneth C. Raymer Memorial Award is presented annually to a foreign disclosure officer who best exemplifies the attributes of expertise, professionalism and devotion to duty essential in providing Army commands with clear, concise, responsive and accurate value-added support, according to guidelines.

"It is priceless to have Joe and I receive these awards in the same year," Gussie said. "We've worked well together from the very start, back in late 2008, and that relationship has only grown stronger and more cohesive over time. To receive an award of this magnitude at the same time as our chief security officer simply amplifies the honor, and I am absolutely proud.

Gussie said that within SMDC's G-24 (Security Operations Division), the International Security Branch assists the command by managing and executing the command's Foreign Disclosure Program and functions as the foreign visit specialists. He said they review current international security and foreign disclosure regulations and/or policies to ensure accurate security guidance and relevant disclosure information is being promulgated within the command.

"While I feel this award validates my efforts in the International Security arena, and I'm very honored to receive it, it's equally important to me that I can use this as an example of true effort and dedication to duty for my sons to look upon as they develop on a path my wife and I have laid out for them to become good, young patriotic men," Gussie said.

The award was presented to Gussie for exceptional service for 2015 while serving as SMDC's assistant command foreign disclosure officer. He was instrumental in the development of the command's foreign disclosure regulation, the management of the command's international visits program and the management of the command's foreign disclosure support to the Wideband Global Satellite Communication system with the government of Australia.

"This award solidifies my efforts in my, now, civilian service as a mission enabler for the Warfighters," Gussie said. "It also validates the time, effort, and energy I've put into the International Security mission for our commander, Lt. Gen. (David L.) Mann. For the command as an Army organization, I feel this award brings more awareness to our operational environment and culture, that as a team, we're a bigger part of the Department of the Army's international efforts and coalition warfare strategy then some may have otherwise thought."