REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command continued its focus as a “People First” organization in 2023 and modernizing and building readiness through missile defeat and Army space operations. The command also worked to integrate its capabilities to influence future multidomain and full-spectrum operations.
Among USASMDC’s achievements for the year was the recognition of having the highest employee engagement in the entire U.S. Army according to the Office of Personal Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
USASMDC’s 2023 FEVS Employee Engagement Index was 83%, an increase of 2.8% from 2022. In addition, USASMDC increased its score in all three of the survey’s sub-indices, scoring more than 80% in all.
In the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government’s May rankings based on 2022 scores, the command tied as the best command to work for in the Army, receiving an overall engagement and satisfaction score of 76.1. It rated higher than any command across all branches of the U.S. military.
“In case you haven’t heard, SMDC is the #1 best place to work in the Army, tied with our Triad partner, U.S. Army Special Operations Command,” said Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, USASMDC commanding general. “And we expect to keep that ranking in 2023. I am truly humbled and honored to be on the SMDC team and a part of the SMDC family. I am both proud and grateful for your efforts in helping our command achieve this recognition.”
To continue communicating mission efforts, USASMDC, along with Triad partners U.S. Army Cyber Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, gave an update on their joint operations at the Association of U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in October.
Karbler said the command is exploring the concept of an exercise aimed at left-of-launch capabilities, which, along with traditional Army integrated air and missile defense, inform the missile defeat effects coordinator concept.
“You can imagine now with the Triad that we have the capability and the capacity to really get after the left-of-launch capabilities,” Karbler said. “The Triad is really nothing more complicated than combined arms, but using our capabilities, accesses and abilities to do things during pre-crisis operations as we are looking at active campaigns and being able to provide these capabilities early on.”
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade celebrated consistency in achieving the mission as it marked its 20th anniversary, acknowledging two decades of ground-based missile defense, and the completion of another successful ground-based interceptor launch during a flight test of the nation’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense System for the Missile Defense Agency on Dec. 11.
“We have a huge charge here,” said Lt. Col. Jorge Lorenzana, commander, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, the 100th Missile Defense Brigade’s major subordinate element. “We defend 350 million Americans, and we proved that we can do it and we can do it well. We should be very proud.”
USASMDC’s NASA Detachment underwent leadership change on April 4 when Col. Andrew Morgan, who served as the detachment commander for seven years, relinquished command to Col. Anne McClain. On June 28, Morgan took command of U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll.
The detachment’s third astronaut, Col. (Dr.) Frank Rubio, broke the record for the longest stay in space for a U.S. astronaut when he returned to Earth on Sept. 27, after 371 days on the International Space Station, beating the 2022 record of 355 days set by astronaut Mark Vande Hei, a retired U.S. Army colonel.
“Space is an absolutely beautiful, but also completely unforgiving, environment that we've been operating in continuously for more than 23 years,” Rubio said. “The fact that it appears routine is a testament to the professionalism and dedication of each person who makes up this incredible team. It's been a blessing and an honor to play a small role as we continue to push the boundaries of human spaceflight.”
The Army’s role in and use of space goes beyond supporting Army astronauts to operating in and through space. Though U.S. Space Command and the U.S. Space Force are well-poised to respond to space threats globally, the Army offers space capabilities that support missions unique to the Army—and have done it successfully for a very long time.
The Army is now incorporating space and cyberspace domains with the traditional land, sea and air to create a multidomain approach being codified in the development of multidomain task forces being supported by USASMDC that will ensure success in current and future conflicts.
Another effort the command’s Army Capability Manager for Space and High Altitude within the Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence has been at the forefront of is developing a theater strike effects group that will help win on the ground, in space, and everywhere in between.
This theater-level Army space formation is integral for today’s battlefield and is poised to be a shining example of what the Army — and USASMDC — does best: integrating right at the intersection between land and space domains.
“Through the command’s training, education, experiments, and exercises, at echelon, whether in professional military education, combat training center rotations, ASCC- or joint-led exercises or experiments like Project Convergence, understanding the use of Army space capabilities must become second nature,” Karbler said.
USASMDC made changes to its missile defense mission this year, shifting from the concept of global missile defense to transregional missile defense. Following publication of the 2019 Missile Defense Review, the 2021 Unified Command Plan, and the establishment of U.S. Space Command, Karbler led efforts to properly assign missile defense responsibilities. Working with the commanders of U.S. Strategic Command, Adm. Charles Richard; U.S. Space Command, Gen. James Dickinson; U.S. Northern Command, Gen. Glen VanHerck; and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, Karbler forged what became known as the “16-Star Memo.” This memo led to publication of the April 25, 2023, Unified Command Plan, assigning USSPACECOM responsibility for transregional missile defense.
This new approach introduces the concept of missile defeat, which encompasses whole-of-government activities to counter the development, acquisition, proliferation, potential and actual use of adversary missiles of all types, and to limit the damage from such use. USASMDC championed the development of this concept, and Karbler said it is the next logical step after missile defense.
The missile defeat concept contains two parts:
- Integrated air and missile defense — providing attack operations; active defense; passive defense; and battle management/command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to the regional combatant commands.
- Left of launch — providing deny, delay, disrupt and degrade missile defeat effects in coordination with global combatant commands, the intelligence community, joint staff, interagency, and Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Another result of the UCP is the shift of combatant command of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade from USSTRATCOM to USNORTHCOM.
"This change improves our capacity to defend the homeland by providing unity of command and alignment of authorities to execute the ground-based midcourse defense mission,” said Col. Joseph Paladino, commander, 100th Missile Defense Brigade. “As a result, USNORTHCOM, USASMDC and the 100th Missile Defense Brigade are better aligned to seamlessly integrate across all echelons of command, bringing greater efficiencies to protecting our homeland."