HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's leader told members of the local space community how leaders are growing the future of America's science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, future in the Tennessee Valley.

Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, spoke at a National Space Club-Huntsville Chapter breakfast June 19 and thanked the community for its support to the warfighter and explained how the command grows STEM talent for Army space research and development.

"Most people don't realize that the Army is the largest military user of space capabilities," Dickinson said. "As we move into the future, it's clear that space will steadily become more integral to the Army's ability to communicate, maintain command and control, maneuver, deliver fires, provide logistics, protect forces and protect the homeland, and collect intelligence.

"To keep up with the pace of global technological advancement we must explore new space capabilities and applications that make the warfighter more effective in any military role from combat to humanitarian assistance and disaster response," he added.

Dickinson focused on the command's mission to perform the Army's space-related research and development and explained how young people at SMDC are making significant impacts on research and development efforts as interns and beyond.

He explained how the command uses programs such as STEM; Student Temporary Employment Program, or STEP; Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Program; and through the University of Alabama in Huntsville's Systems Management and Production, or SMAP, Center; to develop and perform missile defense and space research and development for SMDC's Concepts Analysis Lab to recruit and train young engineers and scientists.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to engage with National Space Club because space is central to our mission at USASMDC/ARSTRAT," Dickinson said. "Thanks for inviting me to share with you how we're preparing the next generation of Army scientists and engineers for space and other critical missions. I can't stress enough how important space is to the Army; we need a vibrant STEM pipeline to maintain our technical superiority.

"I know the National Space Club does a lot to promote STEM in the community, so I hope you'll find opportunities to share what we're doing at SMDC to help develop these amazingly talented young people who even as interns are able to contribute so much to our national security," he added.

Gene Goldman, National Space Club-Huntsville Chapter chairperson, welcomed Dickinson to the National Space Club's breakfast and thanked him for his time and insight.

"I was amazed at the number of activities the Army and SMDC has as it relates to interns," Goldman said. "NASA is always working on the next generation of explorers and the Army is as well. In areas of missile defense and related fields that support that, they are developing the best and brightest in the service of our country."

The National Space Club is a non-profit organization founded on Oct. 4, 1957, to stimulate the exchange of ideas and information about rocketry and astronautics, and to promote the recognition of United States' achievements in space. It provides scholarships and internships to students, and encourages educational space-based activities. The Huntsville chapter was founded in 1985.

"People think of the Space Club as being mostly related to NASA, and it is not," Goldman said. "The breakfast is an opportunity to network with the community. Huntsville has such incredible programs on both the Department of Defense and civilian side. Another common thread is interest in STEM programs as well as the intern program with SMDC."