COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - The under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness recently certified the United States Strategic Command's Joint Ballistic Missile Defense Education and Training Center, operated by the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense at Schriever Air Force Base, as a Joint Center of Excellence, the first joint organization so designated.

A Center of Excellence is defined as a premier organization providing exceptional products and services in an assigned area of expertise with unique requirements and capabilities. The Suffolk, Virginia-based Joint Staff Force Development Directorate spent a year preparing the requirements for the designation.

JBTEC training fills a critical gap between service-, joint- and theater-based training.

"Previously available missile defense training consisted of system training and top-off training. System training focuses on system capabilities and tends to be service specific. Combatant command top-off training focuses on system employment tactics and procedures," said Pat McNelis, a current JBTEC instructor.

According to its vision statement, JBTEC strives to develop joint warfighters' understanding of integrated air and missile defense, enhance warfighters' capability to conduct IAMD planning, increase U.S. and partner abilities to integrate across multiple combatant commands, and improve leaders' ability to critically analyze the operational and strategic impacts of IAMD operations.

Col. Dwayne Bowyer, deputy commander for JFCC IMD, described the value JBTEC provides the broader missile defense community. "Integration and interoperability will continue to be a critical aspect of joint and combined operations. This doesn't happen without training and education that is comprehensive and synchronized. We identify needs and fill them."

The JBTEC team conducts classes at their main training center in Colorado Springs as well as locations across the globe via mobile training teams designed to reduce the burden to the warfighter.

"It is more cost effective to send a small team of instructors to world-wide commands than it is to send operators and planners back to Colorado Springs," Bowyer said.

So far in 2018, the Center has executed 43 executive seminars, 51 ballistic missile defense staff officer courses, and 14 joint planning and employment courses, all of which are five days or less in duration.

Bowyer also highlighted the importance of JBTEC's contribution to U.S. strong international relationships.

"Training and education is a well-established component of U.S. security cooperation efforts," Bowyer said. "These activities go a long way toward helping a country develop national missile defense capabilities, enhance their mission readiness or integrate their missile defense efforts with those of the United States in combined regional architectures."

Lt. Col. Atasushi Kamata, a member of the Japanese Joint Staff's ballistic missile defense operations and plans section, talked about the course he attended.

"I hope this course grows every year," said Kamata. "Considering the situation around Japan, we need this training and support about BMD."

Originally established under the Missile Defense Agency in 2005, JBTEC has been a component of JFCC IMD since 2013. The JBTEC annually conducts IAMD training for more than 4,000 students from the combatant commands, U.S. government agencies and allied nations. The center utilizes classroom instruction, distance learning and exercises to train students on behalf of the Joint Force.