Army Space Support Team Departs for Afghanistan


CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado National Guard, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, friends and family honored Army Space Support before their departure to Afghanistan Oct. 26.

Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, adjutant general, Colorado Army National Guard and Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, commanding general, SMDC, were both on hand to honor the team's departure.

"No other unit in the National Guard has had as many deployments as the 117th Space Battalion," said Edwards. "I am so proud of what you do."

Formica, and his deputy commander for operations, Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin, and several other SMDC staff members were on hand for the ceremony.

"I can't say enough about the great relationship SMDC has with the Colorado National Guard, with both space and missile defense," Formica said. "We're both doing the same thing, providing support to the Warfighters."

The six-member team consists of Maj. Michael Lane, Capt. Erik Peterson, Staff Sgt., Brett Mills, Sgt. Julia Tallant, Spc. Jenny Thompson and Spc. Antonio Cordova.

"I am looking forward to doing my duty and making a contribution, said Lane, the team leader. "I want to help with the heavy lifting, like so many of those who have gone before me."

This is the first deployment for four of the team members. However, for Mills, this is his fourth deployment. Mills and his wife, Ramona, were married just weeks before his first deployment in 2003. They credit web chat for getting them through so many deployments.

"The deployments are tough at times," Ramona said. "But, we've been able to Skype, and that helps us get through it. I don't how couples did it before Skype."

The unit just completed several weeks of pre-mobilization training, focusing on theater specific tasks and certification on their mission tasks. Space is a unique field for the Army. The Army's only space brigade and the National Guard's only space battalion are located in Colorado Springs, Colo. Therefore, the team was able to complete all of their pre-mobilization training in Colorado Springs, while staying closer to family for a little longer.

The unit mission is to provide space-based products to the Warfighter. These products are used in virtually every aspect of theater operations, increasing the capabilities and effectiveness of Warfighters and those who support them. Soldiers monitor and provide terrestrial and space weather data, satellite imagery for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and even monitoring counter-improvised explosive device programs.

SMDC has training, readiness and oversight for two Colorado National Guard units, the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) and the 117th Space Battalion.

The unit will be supporting the Marines in Regional Command-Southwest.

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