By Carrie David Campbell (SMDC/ARSTRAT)December 17, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama - Throughout a year of change within the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command remained focused on providing space, missile defense and high altitude capabilities so combatant commanders can fight and win today.
The Army's senior air and missile defender, Lt. Gen. James H. Dickinson, spent his second full year at the helm, leading the command's roughly 2,800 Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians as they performed missions in 23 different locations in 11 times zones around the world.
As the lead for Army space and missile defense efforts and one of 10 Army Service Component Commands, USASMDC/ARSTRAT overseas operational space and missile defense missions around the globe. From trained and ready space and missile defense forces, to innovative doctrine and concept to research and development, SMDC never slows.
Among the highlights of the year are the successful completion of the Kestrel Eye demonstration; directed energy achievements; hypersonic efforts; the celebration of 100th Missile Defense Brigade's 15th anniversary; and rounding out the year, Army astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain's launch for a six-month mission on the International Space Station.
The USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center's Kestrel Eye, a small, low-cost, visible-imagery satellite prototype designed to provide near real-time images to the tactical-level ground Soldier, received its first images from space April 28. It remained on orbit for 10 months, which exceeded original estimates of six months.
"This is the first satellite developed by SMDC to perform imagery collection and distribution, and it will be SMDC's first satellite to provide data that has the potential to be directly useful to deployed Soldiers," Dickinson said. "The program was a great success. It worked! We received good advocacy by Soldiers, and it generated a lot of momentum."
Directed Energy Achievements
As the Army's lead for high energy laser science and technology development, SMDC works collaboratively with Army, other services and industry partners to ensure high energy technologies are integrated with other air and missile defense efforts. SMDC's Technical Center is seeing positive results from its four efforts: High Energy Laser Mobile Test Truck, High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator, Mobile Experimental High Energy Laser, and Multi-Mission High Energy Laser.
MEHEL, a Stryker equipped with a 5-kW laser, has successfully engaged targets, including unmanned aerial systems, during Maneuver Fires Integration Experiments at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and at the Joint Warfighting Assessment in Germany. At both MFIX-18 and JWA 18.1, the MEHEL was operated by Soldiers.
SMDC developed and staffed an overarching Memorandum of Agreement regarding hypersonic glide technology development, which was signed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, all of the service secretaries, and the Missile Defense Agency June 28.
"We initiated the establishment of an Army Hypersonics Project Office, which will oversee development of a common hypersonics glide body as well as development of an Army long-range hypersonic weapon," Dickinson said. The project office is slated to stand up in early 2019.
100th Missile Defense Brigade
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade, a unique, multi-component unit operating the nation's ground-based midcourse defense system, celebrated its 15th anniversary Oct. 16. The total force of the brigade comprising National Guard and active component Soldiers is located in six countries and five states: the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska Army National Guard at Fort Greely; Detachment 1 of the California Army National Guard at Vandenberg Air Force Base; the Fort Drum Security Detachment, Fort Drum, New York; and five globally located missile defense batteries. Its personnel and its mission make this brigade a one-of-a-kind asset to both the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense.
"The ground-based midcourse defense system and materiel in place today are the products of countless hours of research, development and evaluation, said William Spriggs, a GMD instructor with SMDC. "This is a very complicated weapons system - one of the most complicated things we've ever done as a nation is missile defense."
Lt. Col. Anne McClain
Army astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain, along with crewmates David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, launched Dec. 3 aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-month rotation on the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expedition 58/59.
"The Army astronauts have a very proud legacy in the astronaut program," McClain said. "I can tell you that just like everywhere else in the Army, the biggest attributes that we can bring to the table are leadership and team skills, and those traits that I learned in the Army as both a follower and as a leader working in austere environments with small groups in high gain tasks where lives are at risk."
SMDC provides support to NASA with an Army astronaut detachment assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The detachment currently has two astronauts, Col. Andrew Morgan and McClain, and one astronaut candidate, Maj. Frank Rubio.
The command's strength lies in its agile, adaptive, and ready space and missile defense workforce of service members and civilians who perform the critical strategic missions that supports the Soldier and the joint force every day. As the SMDC team prepares for the challenges they will face in 2019, they will remain bold and innovative, offering solutions to ensure the nation's forces have assured battlespace awareness and are prepared to fight across multiple domains, including providing space, missile defense, high altitude, and hypersonic capabilities to the warfighter.