COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- Amid ever-increasing threats from around the world, 2017 was a seminal year for United States missile defense.

The Soldiers of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) experienced a productive -- and demanding -- year, and one Soldier was recognized for his efforts.

Each year, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance names the best missile defender from the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard based on excellence in leadership and personal effort, demonstrating their commitment to excellence and their critical role in missile defense. On Jan. 12, that honor was presented to Capt. Jason Brewer, the operations officer in charge of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, who was named the 2017 National Guard Missile Defender of the Year.

"Tonight, you have 10 crew members, five at Fort Greely (Alaska) and five at (Schriever Air Force Base) Colorado Springs, and at any given moment North Korea could launch something toward us." Brewer said during his acceptance speech in Alexandria, Virginia. "You would fire up the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) you would fire up the Aegis ships. Everybody (Navy, Air Force, Army and National Guard) would combine.

"No time in American history, in world history, would 10 people save more lives than in the split five minutes of a threat going to Los Angeles," he said.

During the award ceremony, Brewer was introduced by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau.

"As a member of the National Guard, Jason exemplifies the citizen-Soldier's role in our missions of warfighting, defending the homeland and building and sustaining partnerships," said Hokanson.

"While National Guard troops are the force of choice for (responding to) natural disasters, what is less known is our Soldiers and Airmen are on watch daily supporting U.S. Northern Command and our military services," Hokanson said. "The 49th and its ballistic missile defense mission is a prime example of how the Guard is always ready and always there for America."

Brewer, a native of South Carolina, has a background in coaching football and teaching, and said he was drawn to defending the homeland, and that the attacks on 9/11 inspired him to join the Army. He was originally assigned to the 2nd Engineer Brigade, United States Army Alaska, at Joint Base Elmendorf -- Richardson, Alaska. While there, he learned of the mission of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely. He later joined the Alaska National Guard and served as the personnel director of the 30th Troop Command in Anchorage.

Brewer was then hired as the personnel director for the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, where he served in many roles, including the tactical crew director in the Fire Direction Center.

The tactical crew director oversees and manages a crew of five Soldiers, who are responsible for monitoring the myriad GMD sensors and systems, and ultimately may be required to launch a ground-based interceptor missile to stop a threat.

"It gives me chills just thinking about it," Brewer said of the responsibility of the mission. "Those Soldiers are the best of the best. The best in the world at what they do. They have to take so much information and make split decisions that could impact millions of lives."

Brewer then moved within the 100th Missile Defense Brigade to Colorado Springs, where he has served in multiple roles.

In 2017, he was responsible for the planning and execution of GMD fire control software upgrades. He was also the lead ballistic missile defense evaluator, conducting more than 30 evaluations in the past year. He did this while serving as the brigade operations officer and as an alternate missile defense crew member for multiple crews.

For his efforts and leadership, he was nominated as the National Guard Missile Defender of the Year by Col. Kevin Kick, brigade commander, and Lt. Col. Michael Strawbridge, the operations and training officer.

"Capt. Brewer excels at teaching, coaching and mentoring," Strawbridge wrote in the award nomination citation. "During perhaps the highest operations tempo year in the brigade's history, Capt. Brewer played a critical role in training and enabling crews to meet the 24-7 readiness requirements in defense of the homeland and led the unit's successful test initiatives to ensure our nation continues to have the most effective and modern missile defense system in the world."

Brewer credits his family for his success.

"I couldn't do any of this without my wife and two daughters," he said, and offered a word of advice. "Be home when you're home. Leave work at work. Both my daughters are straight-A students and that's a credit to my wife."

Brewer said he loves his role with the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and the mission of defending the homeland.

"I think this is the best brigade and the best mission in the world. If something happens one day and we have to shoot (a threat missile) down, we will shoot one down."