REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The under secretary of the Army received a detailed
and succinct depiction of how the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command supports America's Warfighters during a brief visit to Redstone Arsenal Nov. 14.

Under Secretary of the U.S. Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal spent the day at Redstone Arsenal and visited USASMDC/ARSTRAT Wednesday. During his visit, Westphal received a command overview and got a first-hand look at the command's major capabilities for today, tomorrow and the future.

"I think it is important that I came here to learn more about the support Space and Missile Defense Command provides our Army, combatant commanders and the Department of Defense," Westphal said. "I am truly impressed with the work being done here, and with the leadership at all levels. Lt. Gen. (Richard) Formica has formed a team of professionals here that are expertly harnessing cutting-edge technology and leveraging space-based capabilities to support our national interests.

"This critical command is providing these capabilities in support of our Warfighters and is vital as the Army transforms to meet the challenges of the future," he added.

Shortly after arriving at SMDC's headquarters on Redstone Arsenal, the under secretary had a meeting with the command's leaders and learned how the command provides trained and ready space and missile defense forces.

SMDC's commanding general talked about the importance of the visit and what it means to the command.

"We were very pleased to have Under Secretary of the Army Westphal visit SMDC/ARSTRAT in Huntsville," said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, SMDC commanding general. "We are proud of the many capabilities we provide to our Army and to U.S. Strategic Command across our three core tasks. It was good to share a glimpse of what we do with the under secretary of the Army. He is very active in space issues (in particular) at the Department of the Army Headquarters and the Office of the Secretary of Defense -- it was good for him to see what we do first hand.

"Secretary Westphal was very interested in the command, what we do, and the capabilities we provide," he continued. "He was happy to interact with those who had the opportunity to brief him and show him what they do. And it was good for him to interact with the interns.

"This was a very good visit," Formica added. "We invited Secretary Westphal to visit us in Colorado Springs to see some of the operational issues first hand -- and to both (Kwajalein Atoll) and Fort Greely (Alaska). He's busy -- and there's a big Army for him to see -- so chances of getting visits to all three places are low -- but it's worth noting his interest in the command."

After meeting with Formica, Westphal learned about Army space, high-altitude and missile defense research and development technologies.

"It is very important for him to be here because we get an opportunity to tell him about our command," said Gisele Wilson, chief of the SMDC Technical Center's Space Superiority Division. "We get an opportunity to show him the wonderful work that we do here.

"It is great for the people who work here to see that he understands that our work that we're doing is ultimately getting products out to support the Warfighter," she added.

Westphal also received a Joint Air Defense Operations Center-Development Test Lab overview and demo, and a Concepts Analysis Lab tour and briefing.

"It was very exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking to brief the under secretary (of the Army,)" said Stephanie Cleveland, a general engineer in the CAL. "But it was important that we got our message across to him. I think he got a better understanding of what we do here.

"I personally work with radar in the CAL, so I explained what the radar does and why we use it to support counter-rockets, artillery and mortars and how C-RAM in turn supports the Warfighter," she added. "I am just glad to have had the opportunity to brief him. It was an honor."

After his visit at SMDC headquarters, Westphal met with other Redstone Arsenal organizations before returning to Washington, D.C. Before leaving he explained what he took away from his experience at the command.

"First, the Army appreciates the expertise of the Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians assigned to the Space and Missile Defense Command, and the support of all those family members who unconditionally support these men and women," Westphal said. "I would like to add that the contributions of Department of the Army civilians are crucial, important, and a valuable part of our force. Attracting and retaining talented people, Soldiers and civilians, will remain a top priority despite the challenges ahead. It would be impossible to run the Army without the experience and depth of knowledge that our civilian workforce provides. Lastly, as dollars get tighter, we need to ensure that we don't compromise on the very things that we've been saying, which is that we're going to always support our families and our Soldiers. We're going to stand by them.

"Again, I'm very glad that I had the opportunity to visit Space and Missile Defense Command, and Redstone Arsenal, and see first-hand the incredible work being done here," he added. "After 11 years of combat operations, we have the most capable force this country has ever had. We have a highly educated force. We have a force that has been through quite a lot of turmoil, so this Army transformation and modernization is an opportunity for us to really harness technology and spaced-based capabilities as we reshape the Army of the future."