CASA makes first visit to SMDC
Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and Richard P. De Fatta, deputy to the commanding general of USASMDC, welcome Kristen McBride, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for North Alabama, to the SMDC headquarters Oct. 17 for her first tour of the command. (Photo Credit: Ayumi Davis) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – A senior Army civilian representative learned how U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command defends the high ground.

Kristen McBride, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for North Alabama, visited the USASMDC headquarters on Oct. 17 for an overview of the command.

“I enjoyed every minute of my visit to SMDC,” McBride said. “Everyone was so friendly, so knowledgeable, and so inspiring.”

McBride said she couldn’t miss the banner at the front of the building announcing that SMDC is Redstone Arsenal’s number one command and the best place to work in the Army according to the 2022 Federal Employee Viewpoint survey as well as the Best Places to Work rankings in 2022.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” she said. “In every conversation, I saw people who love the mission, love what they’re doing, and enjoy being part of the SMDC team. It is clear to me why SMDC is a great place to work.”

McBride learned about the command’s Technical Center, Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, Payload Development Lab, Concepts Analysis Lab and the Directed Energy Systems Integration Lab.

She said the people, the impact of their work, providing new capabilities, testing these capabilities, training to incorporate them, and using those capabilities to defend the homeland, allies and interests impressed her during the visit.

“My visit made me reflect on that fact some of the capabilities I saw are things that were just concepts not all that long ago,” McBride said. “My thanks to everyone who shared their time educating me on the SMDC missions and challenges. I learned something from every one of you. I’m excited about supporting SMDC and the rest of our Army as our Soldiers Be All They Can Be.”

McBride was sworn in as the CASA by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth during an investiture ceremony on Oct. 10, 2023, at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C.

As CASA, with the status equivalent of a three-star general, McBride serves as an adviser to Army senior leaders and a conduit to Team Redstone and the Tennessee Valley community.

“I’m really blessed to be the CASA in this great community,” McBride said. “A big part of a CASA’s job is to help bridge the gap between the Army and civilian community. Because of the number of Veterans and Army families here, the number of Department of the Army civilians and contractors whose jobs support our Army, and because of the patriotic attitude of our community, that bridge is not nearly as long as it is in some communities.

“We have great Army leadership here and leaders in our communities who see Redstone as a partner,” she added. “I get to be part of a team that is already pro-Army, and that makes communication so much easier.”

She added that the secretary of the Army has identified assistance with Army recruiting as a priority for CASAs.

“My CASA position, and my years of volunteer work supporting our Army, have given me a chance to see the selfless service of our Soldiers, as well as the opportunities for careers, leadership development, and education and training that Army service offers,” McBride said. “The Army develops people better than any other organization I’ve seen, and Soldiers transitioning from the Army bring these skills with them to their new organizations. I’d like the public to see the great things that I see about our Army and our Soldiers."

SMDC’s senior civilian said he discussed the unique nature of the command and especially highlighted the increasing requirements for Army space capabilities at all echelons, and the associated growth that is anticipated.

“Our CASA serves as a critical link with the local populous and regularly interfaces with our industry partners,” said Richard P. De Fatta, deputy to the commanding general of SMDC. “In this role, it is important that she understands the kind of work we perform at SMDC and the complex, far reaching nature of our command and our no-fail 24/7 mission set. Like most first-time visitors, she was surprised at the depth and breadth of our team. Understanding SMDC will help her communicate the strategic nature of our role in space, high altitude and strategic missile defense with other stakeholders.

“She needed to be aware of the value of Army space and missile defense from an Army perspective, considering the often confused nature and perceived conflicts resulting from the standup of other organizations like U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force,” he added. Additionally, considering her role within the North Alabama community, she can really be an ambassador to help recruit new talent into the exciting space and missile defense career fields, both military and civilian.”