VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – The 100th Missile Defense Brigade's Detachment 1 provided the necessary human-in-the-loop to execute the Missile Defense Agency's successful launch of a ground-based interceptor during the Sept. 12 flight test of the nation's ground-based midcourse defense system.
This small team of 100th Missile Defense Brigade Soldiers plays a vital role in U.S. Northern Command's GMD mission to defend the U.S. homeland and designated areas from long-range ballistic missile threats.
"We do countless training runs to evaluate and certify, but we rarely get a chance to perform our mission for a live-fire event," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Orellana, a Detachment 1 liaison officer at Vandenberg Space Force Base. "It was great to do what we train to do in a real-world scenario."
Detachment 1 comprises California Army National Guard Soldiers who operate the GMD system at Vandenberg Space Force Base and, on order, execute support operations to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles in midcourse to defend the United States and designated areas as part of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade.
Orellana was on duty in the Vandenberg Operations Center during the flight test and provided the required operational functions for the ground-based interceptor to launch.
"I was able to see the live camera feed," he said. "I saw the clam shells open, saw the fire shoot out and felt the rumble. I was not satisfied until I knew the test was successful and the MDA received good data. It is something to be proud of. I like what I do and am honored to be a part of this mission."
The ground-based midcourse defense mission is the only undertaking of its kind to provide homeland defense from long-range ballistic missiles. Soldiers of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, which includes the 49th Missile Defense Battalion in Alaska and Detachment 1, work with mission partners and materiel developers to continually refine and improve the system to counter the threats of today and the future.
This flight test was the first to assess the three-stage GBI booster operating in two-stage mode. According to the Missile Defense Agency, this capability will give the warfighters of the 100th Brigade enterprise greater flexibility, while increasing the battlespace for successful threat engagements.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander, Col. Mike Hatfield, said he has every confidence in the GMD system and the ability to keep pace mitigating the evolving threats.
"I think it's important for people to know that our Soldiers in Colorado, Alaska, and California are ready to engage threats at any time," said Col. Mike Hatfield, 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander. "We continually improve how we operate, and our responsibility to provide that safety net to the nation is unceasing. The Soldiers of Detachment 1 are a key component in this mission and I am extremely proud of their efforts."