Profiles in Space: The trainee becomes the trainer - an officer candidate’s road to contractor work in SMDC
Alexis Madrigal, a U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command senior military systems analyst/integrator with her civilian job, and an officer candidate in her National Guard one, ensures Army Space Support Teams are certified to do their jobs. (Courtesy photo by Alexia Madrigal/RELEASED) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CARSON, Colo. - For Alexis Madrigal, a SMDC senior military systems analyst/integrator with her civilian job, and an officer candidate in her National Guard one, life is busy and full of potential these days. Six credits and six months shy of earning her bachelor's degree and becoming a second lieutenant in the Colorado Army National Guard, Madrigal has her foot on the gas to wrap up the year with her goals achieved and her eyes toward a new career path in the military.

With her civilian one firmly in place though, Madrigal is busy making sure 1st Space Brigade’s Army Space Support Teams are good to go on their certifications. Along with a team of six other contractors, Madrigal ensures all ARSST Soldiers are fully evaluated on their roles with the team through a series of “tables.”

“The contractor team does everything we can to ensure ARSSTs are ready to perform their jobs in a real-world environment,” Madrigal said. “And for me to share knowledge that I gained from past deployments really keeps me going here at this job.”

Madrigal, an intelligence analyst by military trade with 17 years under her belt in the Army, has served, and was a noncommissioned officer in charge, on multiple ARSSTs from 2012 to 2021. Before her time in SMDC in the COARNG, she was on active duty and deployed to Iraq twice as an intelligence analyst.

Her first deployment was in 2007 to 2008 during the “surge” to Camp Taji, Iraq, where she was placed in an analysis and control element as the brigade targeting NCO. Describing the deployment as a bit more “expeditionary” than her three others, due to living out of a tent, Madrigal didn’t mind the conditions, and was proud to have served her country in a combat zone.

Two years later she was back - this time around in the Green Zone at Camp Cropper - a detention center near Baghdad International Airport, where she evaluated detainees and assigned them to interrogators.

After that deployment she had had about enough of the military and was going to get out entirely, but received a call from a National Guard recruiter who pitched Army Space to her.

“And he sold it,” she said. “The idea of working on ARSSTs was intriguing. The integration of everything that Army Space can provide the warfighter, and just being on the vanguard of technology in the military, was what brought me onboard.”

For a decade Madrigal learned the ARSST mission inside and out, but admits that every deployment, and/or temporary duty assignment, was different depending on what unit her team was supporting.

“The ARSST mission is ever-changing, and it all has to do with whatever weaknesses the supported unit has,” she said. “ARSSTs are flexible and can adapt to just about any situation.”

The same can be said for Madrigal, who now finds herself in new situations just about every drill weekend in the COARNG’s 168th Regional Training Institute, as she goes through the institute’s 18-month officer candidate school, or OCS for short.

“Imagine going into basic training one weekend a month for a year-and-a-half,” she said of the experience thus far. “Except you are responsible for everything you do, and they expect you to think everything through with no help. You guess what you need to do and hopefully you do it right.”

Madrigal is two thirds finished with the school and will commission in September. Unsure what branch she will get commissioned into at this point, she is happy to get the opportunity to carry on her military career serving as an officer, but wishes to someday make it back to 1st Space Brigade as a space operations officer.

“It’s really enjoy space operations,” she said. “Supporting the warfighter on the ground with space capabilities is a mission that is only going to grow and become more important as time goes on. And that’s really what it is all about - supporting the Soldier on the ground.”