COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – As the nation and the world continue to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense School’s critical mission, which is vital to force readiness for the nation, must continue.The Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence’s SMD School, a component of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command located in Colorado Springs, educates and trains the military force in space and global missile defense mission areas and develops space and global missile defense doctrine.The school’s director Daryl Breitbach said despite the pandemic they have continued to provide institutional Soldier qualification training to ensure mission success for Joint Tactical Ground Stations, Mobile Integrated Ground Suites, space control planning, Functional Area 40 space operations officers, ground-based midcourse defense, sensor management, and U.S. Northern Command missile defense officers.“Across the Army, several U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command courses have continued with limited class sizes,” Breitbach said. “The Space and Missile Defense School supports many of these professional military education courses by integrating education and instruction on space domain capabilities that enable the warfighter down to the lowest tactical level.”As a result of the current environment, Breitbach said the school team was able to quickly develop an online space lesson as well as modify lessons to provide instruction from Colorado via Defense Collaboration Service, which is a secure web conferencing and messaging service, or Microsoft Teams. Even instructors have been able to complete training virtually during the pandemic.“The Space and Missile Defense School was one of the first Army schools to develop and offer the Common Faculty Development Instructor Course online via the Virtual Learning Environment,” said Breitbach. “This course is a TRADOC requirement for all Army instructors. The facilitator and eight military and civilian students who attended all had very positive feedback on the initial course offering. We will continue to examine ways to offer courses via online means.”While much of the training can be completed virtually, some classes still require in-person instruction. For these courses, measures are in place in an effort to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.“The school has reduced class sizes, increased course offerings, and worked to minimize the number of instructors and staff in the classroom,” Breitbach explained. “Instead of bringing in local command leaders and mission area subject matter experts to address the classes, we’ve connected by video teleconference and other online means. Everyone has been diligent with social distancing, wearing masks, and maintaining good workspace and personal hygiene practices.”Understandably, many were nervous early on, not fully understanding this new training and work environment, explained Breitbach. The level of anxiety has diminished as the safety measures in place have proved to be effective.“We’ve conducted hundreds of hours of training since the middle of March and graduated dozens of students,” Breitbach said. “All have remained safe and healthy, and all are trained and ready to support the command’s 24/7 no-fail mission.“Graduations have been small internal events without family, friends, supervisors or team members from the Soldiers’ units in attendance,” Breitbach said. “As the command and local installations return to work, the team is looking at opportunities to stream graduation events to the larger space and missile defense community.”Some of the Soldiers are in a permanent-change-of-station status and continue on to their permanent duty station after training, in accordance with Department of Defense and Department of the Army policy. Some of the students are local and return to their USASMDC assignments after training. Much like other individuals across the country, students are making adjustments to live and train in this environment.“The students and instructors are resilient and adaptive. For students communicating and staff instructing while wearing a mask, it definitely forces individuals to work on their command voice,” said Breitbach.In 2019, the SMD School educated and trained Army space cadre and missile defense operators in 26 formal courses with 3,257 students. An additional 12,631 students were trained as part of Army-wide institutional education and training, operational home station unit training, and Combat Training Center training venues.