HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's highest ranking civilian said the acquisition workforce plays a vital role in helping the command accomplish its mission.

James Johnson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT's deputy to the commander, spoke to nearly 1,200 acquisition professionals during the 2017 General Services Administration Federal Acquisition Training Symposium at the Von Braun Center's North Hall in Huntsville.

"The people in this room, the acquisition workforce, play a vital role in helping us provide products and services to Soldiers defending our nation," Johnson said. "We can't do our mission without the strong support from acquisition professionals who are in this room today."

Johnson provided a brief overview of SMDC and its structure and explained how the command contributes to the nation's defense. Then he provided insight into several of the Technical Center's programs.

"This slide shows some of the activities our Technical Center is working on… and I might add all brought to reality by the acquisition professionals who are here today," Johnson said. "We're working on developing nanosatellites for communications. We're working on small satellites for imagery from space. We're working on hyper velocity -- from both an offense and a defense perspective. We're working on some high energy solutions to help the Army with short-range air defense. We're using contracting to develop test targets to give our air and missile defense systems realistic targets to shoot down."

Johnson recounted several successes achieved by the command in the past year, but reminded attendees that they still face challenges.

"We're all in a challenging acquisition environment. These challenges of course require prioritization and synchronization to meet critical missions due to constantly changing threats," Johnson said. "Budgets, if we get one at all, are always declining.

"We face challenges related to threats from our adversaries forcing us to be innovative and agile in our contracting since we can no longer wait years to contract and produce a system," he continued. "The gap between the United States and our potential adversaries in the areas of land, maritime, air, space, and now even cyber is quickly closing. Through contracting, we must maintain a leading edge in capabilities and emerging technologies."