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By Capt. Aaron Gatzke,
100th Missile Defense Brigade
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Who would the nation call upon if attacked by long-range ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads? For 20 years, the Colorado National Guard’s 100th Missile Defense Brigade has been prepared to defend against such a threat.
Training for this mission requires planning and coordination from not only the 100th but also the 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, Alaska, and Detachment 1, 100th MDB at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California.
As the higher headquarters, the 100th MDB planned and executed Operation Guardian Strike to train and evaluate readiness at Fort Greely July 30-Aug. 2.
“There’s a couple things that are looked at during an exercise like this,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Christensen, 100th MDB command sergeant major. “Soldier proficiency, what we do out there, and then vulnerabilities and assessments for command.”
A large part of the mission revolves around protecting the Missile Defense Complex from threats like elite military or terrorist groups and, more recently, drone attacks. Company A, 49th MDB, along with an augmentation force of military police from the Mississippi National Guard, maintained security at the MDC 24/7, 365.
As part of the exercise, drone operators simulated enemy drone attacks and surveillance, allowing the MPs to test their Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems defense under real-world conditions.
Additionally, the 100th MDB training team Soldiers simulated a foreign special operations team disrupting the MDC. After three days of the exercise, MPs were tested by combined drone and special forces attacks for several hours, including after sunset. These events provided a capstone for Guardian Strike.
“They responded well to a complex threat, even at night,” said U.S. Army Capt. Garrett Boldry, an Active Component force protection officer assigned to the 100th MDB overseeing the security aspect of the evaluation. “The MDC is well protected for all the worst-case scenarios we could throw at it.”
All of this ties directly back to the missile defense the 100th MDB controls from Schriever Space Force Base and its headquarters in Colorado Springs.
The 100th MDB interfaces directly with U.S. Northern Command, which has ultimate responsibility for homeland defense. Since so many echelons are involved, this training is critical to validate that all the units operate well together.
“Multi-echelon training is a key enabler to building competencies and readiness for all units,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Benjamin Brown, operations officer in charge, 100th MDB. “When a unit utilizes multi-echelon training, the quality of the information provided at all levels increases and builds the efficiency of the exercise for not only the individual Soldier but the team, squad, platoon, company or battery and the battalion as a whole.”
“We have a huge charge here,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jorge Lorenzana, commander, 49th MDBN. “We defend 350 million Americans, and we proved that we can do it and we can do it well. We should be very proud.”
The unit’s 20th anniversary of Ground-based Missile Defense in Colorado on Oct. 16 is a reminder of all the hard work and development of Soldiers over the years.