REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Technical Center formally welcomed its new director in its mission to contribute to current operations and enable the next generation to prevail in conflicts to come.
Dr. Keith A. Krapels was officially named the USASMDC Technical Center director during a ceremony, June 29, at the command headquarters on Redstone Arsenal. He was also promoted to the senior executive service second tier during the assumption of responsibility ceremony.
“1980 doesn’t seem that far away from the first time I took an oath of office,” Krapels said. “Here we are now and taking the oath today still makes my heart race. Thank you for this opportunity to serve in the Tech Center.”
As the Technical Center director, Krapels will be responsible for managing science and technology, research and development, and conducting test programs for space, integrated air and missile defense, directed energy, hypersonic and related technologies. He will also oversee the critical technologies enabling warfighter effectiveness in the core competencies of directed energy, space, high altitude systems, cyberspace and missile defense.
Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, USASMDC commanding general, said Krapels’ experience will benefit the command moving forward.
“When you look at Keith’s bio, we could not ask for a more qualified, talented and experienced person to come in and lead the Tech Center,” Karbler said. “When you look at the things he has done for the Department of Defense, it is a phenomenal background of experience and we couldn’t be happier that he is on board. We are glad to have you within the SMDC Family and we look forward to the future.”
Krapels, a Germantown, Tennessee, native, retired from the Navy Reserve as a captain following 36 years of service. He earned a bachelor of science in applied mathematics, a Master of Science in electrical engineering and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Memphis. His military education includes the Navy Fleet Replacement Electronic Counter Measures Officer Course, Navy Aviation Electronic Warfare Officer Course, Naval Flight Officer, and the Army Intelligence Imagery Analyst Course.
“Now we are in a new era where senior leadership is looking for ideas and setting up experimentations so we can show that if we build something there that is radically different than what we’re maintaining over here, we can outperform our adversary,” Krapels said. “The Tech Center in SMDC one of those critical areas to effect that change.”
His previous leadership assignments include: director of Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, April 2021-April 2022; director of Sensors & Electronics Devices Directorate, Army Research Lab, June 2018-March 2021; director of Modeling, Simulation & Netted Sensors Division, U.S. Army Research, Development & Engineering Command, Communication-Electronics Research Development & Engineering Center, Night Vision & Electronics Sensors Directorate, May 2008-May 2018; and chief of advisors to the Ministry of Interior/Afghan National Police Headquarters, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.
“While at the Pentagon I learned a lot about more than the service-specific viewpoint I had for both the Army and Navy in how they actually make decisions to allocate resources and do planning for both services,” Krapels said. “I got to see how the sausage is made at the DOD level and it was very valuable being a research and development and science and technology guy in the Department of Defense.”
His awards and honors include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition) Acquisition Excellence Award for Technology Transition; two Navy Meritorious Service Medals; Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) Research and Development Achievement Award; three Navy Commendation Medals; National Military Sensing Symposia Chairperson Award; two Navy Achievement Medals; and two Air Medals.
“Maybe you can call me the bad penny, or maybe I am addicted to the Army because I just keep coming back,” Krapels said. “I am glad to be here and be a member of this team.”