Nine Soldiers graduate ICBM defense course
Nine 100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldiers representing the Alaska, California and Colorado National Guard, respectively, were honored during a Dec. 5, 2017, ceremony at 100th MDB Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., to recognize their graduatio... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- Nine U.S. Army Soldiers are recently qualified to operate the only system in the Department of Defense designed to defend the United States against intercontinental ballistic missile attack.

The 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) hosted a ceremony Dec. 5 at brigade headquarters in Colorado Springs to recognize the Soldiers' achievement in graduating the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Operator Qualification Course, or GQC.

This rigorous seven-week course teaches Soldiers how to defend the homeland from incoming ICBM attack. The program, led by instructors from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's Directorate of Training and Doctrine, is developed according to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine standard.

Collectively, the students of GQC class 18-001 achieved a 97.25 percent average.

"It's a challenging course; 90 percent is the requirement," said Brig. Gen. Timothy Lawson, deputy commanding general of operations, USASMDC/ARSTRAT, in his remarks to the graduates. "There's a reason we do that. It's because we need to count on you to do your job and do it well."

GQC course students learn the GMD fundamentals, weapon system controls and displays, and GMD system behavior.

They also learn how to operate the system by practicing in a lab designed to replicate the nodes they will work in and how the computer allocates ground-based interceptors in the midcourse phase of an enemy attack. The students are required to brief instructors and classmates on threat engagements, including a predictive analysis of weapon system performance.

The 100th Missile Defense Brigade, which is a multi-component brigade consisting of active-component U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers in Colorado, California and Alaska, is the only military unit with a 24/7/365 mission of defending the homeland from ICBM attacks with ground-based interceptors.

Soldiers who master the critical combat tasks taught in this training are qualified to defend the U.S. using the GMD Fire Control System. They will receive further training at their assigned unit prior to assuming the mission.

The students, who ranged in rank from sergeant to major, representing both the active duty and National Guard, will be assigned to the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and operate at Schriever Air Force Base; the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska; or Detachment 1 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Lawson, who served as commander of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, defined the vital role these Soldiers will assume.

"Kim Jung Un has launched more than 90 ballistic missiles since assuming power six years ago," said Lawson. "The threat is significant, which makes your job that much more important. There are a lot of people out there counting on you to do your job and do it well."

The unofficial motto of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade is "The 300 (Soldiers) defending 300 million (Americans)," and Lawson charged each Soldier to take their role seriously.

"We're the only ICBM defense organization for this country," said Lawson. "You are it. You are absolutely it. When you put on that uniform and that 100th Missile Defense Brigade patch every day, you should take pride in it."

You can view more photos of the GQC graduation ceremony by following this link: