REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – For years the Javelin launcher sat in Barry Pike’s office – a prized memento he actually fired – testament to his devotion to the Warfighter, and a constant reminder of the importance of that commitment.
“It gives you a great appreciation for the engineering, and the quality and reliability that our engineers here, and in industry, really put into those weapons systems to make sure they’re safe,” said Pike of the day he went from the science, technology and acquisition side of the weapons system to feeling the power of the man-portable missile firsthand. “It leaves an indelible impression on you; it really does leave a changed mindset.
“Having grown up as an engineer and been around the safety, reliability and quality associated with those systems, but then putting that missile right next to your ear with a warhead, and just thinking about our men and women that operate those systems – it’s a big honor.”
After 35 years of devoting his livelihood to that honor, Pike, director of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center Technology Development Directorate, is saying goodbye. He will retire Dec. 31, marking an end to his childhood dream to be an engineer for the Army working on missile systems.
“This is really what I’ve wanted to do my entire life,” Pike said. “I tend to view this as a calling. To be able to have done what I dreamed of doing is pretty fulfilling. It doesn’t seem so much like work, it is just doing what I wanted to do, and it gives me great satisfaction to be able to do it. It’s really been my highest privilege.”
A legacy of military service in Pike’s family inspired the Hartselle native’s career path. He attended and graduated with honors from Auburn University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering, and began his civil service career in September 1985 as a project engineer for the Space and Missile Defense Command.
Pike, who was selected for the Senior Executive Service in 2010, has served as the director of the Technology Development Directorate since July 2018. TDD, which facilitates AvMC’s core science and technology competencies, conducts research, development, and provision of engineering and scientific expertise for all aviation and missile science and technology efforts including basic research, applied research, advanced technology development and technology maturation initiatives.
Prior to coming to AvMC, Pike held numerous positions within the Program Executive Office, Missiles and Space, including time spent as the chief of staff, deputy program executive officer and the program executive officer. He holds numerous awards and honors, including the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service Award, 2016, 2018; Meritorious Civilian Service Awards, 2005, 2012; Superior Civilian Service Award, 1997, 2013; and the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, 2001, 2007.
Over the course of his 35 years working primarily in air and missile defense, Pike has seen numerous changes, not just from a technology and communications perspective, but also in regard to the needs of the Soldiers – from the end of the Cold War to the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“A lot of our systems and capabilities really played pivotal roles in all those,” Pike said. “Just playing a small part in those historic events is pretty humbling.”
No matter the changes, one thing has remained steadfast – his Warfighter focus.
“The highlights of my career have come from being part of organizations that deliver and develop capabilities for the Warfighter, being a small part of some organizations that really do phenomenal things,” Pike said. “The organizations I’ve been a part of have done some miraculous things, and they have phenomenal people.
“I certainly wish this organization all the best. I appreciate Dr. Christensen and the Army allowing me to move outside of where I spent most of my career – on the acquisition side – to come back to a really technical organization. This organization sort of forms the hub of everything I’ve viewed that made us successful on the PEO side. The people here, the facilities here and the capabilities here, really enabled us to be successful in terms of producing and fielding and sustaining weapons systems. The great technical talent that’s here, it is these people that are the heroes. You’re going to continue to deliver.”
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.