COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – On the final leg of a trip preceded by stops at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and Fort Irwin, California, to visit units on combat training rotations, the director of the Army National Guard met with Soldiers who operate on a different battlefield — space.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade hosted Lt. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, the director of the Army National Guard, in Colorado Springs July 26 to inform him of the unit's critical homeland defense mission.
"It is always great to get out in the field and visit our National Guard teammates," said Jensen. "The men and women of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade have such an incredible responsibility to protect and defend the homeland. Their positive outlook and great pride in their mission is a testament to their motto of 'the 300 defending the 300 million.'"
That motto refers to the brigade as a small team assigned with the enormous responsibility of defending the United States and designated areas from long-range ballistic missile attacks.
Following a briefing by the brigade leadership and staff, Jensen, joined by Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, the adjutant general of Colorado, toured the brigade headquarters and observed a capabilities demonstration in the Missile Defense Element at Schriever Space Force Base.
Jensen guides the formulation, development and implementation of all programs and policies affecting the Army Guard, a force of nearly 335,000 Soldiers in the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.
"We were honored to host Lt. Gen. Jensen and wanted to highlight who we are, what we do, and where we're going," said Col. Mike Hatfield, the 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade is a multicomponent formation of traditional and active National Guard Soldiers, regular Army Soldiers and Department of Army civilians. Hatfield serves as a dual-status commander with Title 10 and Title 32 authorities to manage National Guard and Regular Army resources and personnel.
The command includes elements in Alaska, California, Colorado and New York. There are two battalions and two detachments assigned to the brigade: the Alaska National Guard's 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska; the Colorado National Guard's 117th Space Battalion at Fort Carson; a California National Guard detachment at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California; and an additional security detachment at Fort Drum, New York, including regular Army Soldiers and Department of Army civilians.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade supports the commanding general of U.S. Northern Command. It operates under the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command with administrative responsibilities to three state adjutants general in Alaska, California and Colorado.
The brigade provides around-the-clock defense to the United States and designated areas from intercontinental ballistic missile attacks with redundant missile defense crews in Colorado Springs and Fort Greely.
These rotational crews are permanently on duty and operate the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, a complex weapons system that receives data from space-, land- and sea-based sensors.
Under a federally directed mission, the crews work in concert to defend the homeland and take firing orders from a higher authority. Ground-based interceptors (GBIs) — three-stage rockets tipped with a kinetic kill vehicle that are the bullets of the GMD system — are launched on order to intercept and destroy threat warheads in the exoatmosphere, high above Earth's surface.
The 49th Missile Defense Battalion also secures the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, where most of the nation's GBIs are emplaced. Highly trained military police Soldiers perform this mission in the austere conditions of the rugged Alaska Interior.
The GMD mission is continually progressing and the weapons system undergoes frequent development to keep pace with complex and evolving threats. As a result, the tactics, techniques and procedures update constantly and are refined to correlate with the latest software and hardware upgrades of the global Ballistic Missile Defense architecture.
Missile defense crews and the brigade operations team are a large part of the system's research, development, testing and evaluation. Soldiers are skilled, operationally ready and train consistently. These crews can instantly react and destroy long-range ballistic missile threats to the homeland at any time.
During his visit, Jensen was also briefed on the emerging capabilities at Fort Greely. These include constructing another missile field to hold additional interceptors, counter unmanned aerial systems and a rotational security force to augment the organic military police company that secures the Missile Defense Complex. The first two rotational forces represent the California Army National Guard's 330th Military Police Company.
"We're a unique unit that is deployed in place and fighting an ever-evolving threat," said Hatfield. "100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldiers embody the core National Guard mission — defending the homeland. We are truly always ready and always there."