COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In 2020 style, a small formation of socially distanced and masked Soldiers gathered to celebrate the halcyon days of 2019 as the 100th Missile Defense Brigade was presented with the U.S. Strategic Command Omaha Trophy for Global Operations at Peterson Air Force Base Nov. 19.
This is the first time an Army unit and the first time an Army National Guard unit has won this prestigious honor, which recognizes outstanding support to the USSTRATCOM mission of strategic deterrence.
On the same concrete circle where the unit was officially activated in 2003, Navy Rear Adm. William W. "Trey" Wheeler III, chief of staff, USSTRATCOM, and retired Vice Adm. Walter "Ted" Carter, the president of the University of Nebraska, presented the trophy to Col. Michael Hatfield, the commander of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade for unit accomplishments and mission excellence throughout 2019.
"We're a joint command at USSTRATCOM and in that spirit, you've got a couple of Navy admirals on an Air Force base, presenting an award that's sponsored by civilians to an Army unit," Wheeler said. "That's about as joint as you can get."
The Omaha Trophy, which dates to the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command, was created by the Strategic Air Command Consultation Committee in 1971. At the time, a single trophy was presented annually as a token of appreciation to the command's best wing. The SCC – an advisory group comprising business leaders in the Omaha area – became the Strategic Command Consultation Committee after the activation of USSTRATCOM in 1992.
The tradition has evolved to five awards to recognize USSTRATCOM's premier intercontinental ballistic missile wing, ballistic missile submarine, strategic bomber wing, global operations (space/cyberspace) unit and strategic aircraft wing. The trophy's name is an homage to the Offutt Air Force Base, home of USSTRATCOM, south of Omaha, Neb.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade is the only military unit in the Department of Defense responsible for the strategic missile defense of the homeland. In 2019, the brigade proved its capability through a successful flight test launch of two ground-based interceptors, which destroyed their target, a threat-representative ICBM, outside Earth's atmosphere.
Also in 2019, the unit provided support to multiple Tier 1 exercises and certified at the highest levels of internal and external evaluations of both 100th Missile Defense Brigade mission essential tasks: defense of the homeland from ICBM attack and site security of the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely.
"This is an outstanding honor," Hatfield said. "As the chief of the Army says, 'People first, and winning matters.' The Soldiers before you, and those who cannot be here today, reflect the interlocked shields of a small group of 300 Spartan warriors who defended their home. That is really what we do here.
"The interconnected shields are formed by our various missile defense crews at Schriever Air Force Base and Fort Greely, Alaska, the Detachment at Vandenberg Air Force Base and our enterprise of Soldiers, DA civilians, contractors, and access control personnel. Every person has a part of that mission and our success," Hatfield said.
Wheeler said the protection of the nation is the most sacred mission in the Department of Defense. He acknowledged the brigade's unofficial slogan of 300 Soldiers defending 300 million American citizens.
"That motto says it all," he said. "To the men and women of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, thank you for being on the wall and keeping us safe 24/7/365. It is impressive what you do. In the Navy, we call our submarine force the silent service. You represent that same mentality. You do your job without a lot of fanfare, and that is impressive."
Carter, who was on hand to represent the 24-member Strategic Command Consultation Committee that selects the winners annually, said the Omaha Trophy is for the "best of the best."
"You should be incredibly proud of what that means when it comes to the global defense and the no-fail mission that you are engaged in," he said. "It's named after the largest city in Nebraska, and the name Omaha may not mean anything to you right away.
"It's a name that Peyton Manning made famous as a quarterback. When he yelled the word, 'Omaha,' it was to prepare for action. I like to think that's who you are," Carter said. "Every time you go to work and do your job, you must be ready. The American people sleep peacefully every night under the very blanket of freedom that you provide."