Last week in Huntsville, Alabama – home and birthplace of our nation’s rocketry and missile defense – we hosted our 15th annual Breakfast of Champions in conjunction with the Space and Missile Defense Symposium, bringing the nation’s missile defense team together to reflect, look forward, and to recognize our missile defense community for its champions. The following is a sample of remarks made by me at the event.
It is a celebration of champions, it is a breakfast of champions and it is winners associating with winners to win. More than ever and more than anytime in this century, you as a collective group have to win for mankind, for the world at large, and for our nation.
This is the time of year that the collective community on missile defense gathers with the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director to reflect on the previous year and lead off on the upcoming year. Introducing two new commanders for Ballistic Missile Defense, Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Director of MDA, and Lieutenant General James Dickinson, Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Army Forces Strategic Command.
Missile defense has had a great year this past one and is such a critical issue, that has bloomed to the world and to our nation of its vital importance in keeping our world safe and stable. Just some raw numbers of the people protected by operationally deployed U.S. missile defense systems around the world this year is spectacular. There are 330 million in the United States, 120 million in Japan, 80 million in the Republic of Korea, and 80 million in Southeast Europe, which is over half a billion lives being defended by Ballistic Missile Defense systems. This is remarkable and a tribute to the community. We have not gone to war because we can negate the North Korea ballistic missile threat and the missile defense community is to be congratulated and commended for that sole attribute. Three major operational systems have had realistic tests over the past year, that reaffirmed and added more confidence and reliability for our systems. These were the historic first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) shoot down by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System on May 30th, the first Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) intercepts by both the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA – on February 3rd – and SM-6 – on December 14th – from Aegis BMD ships, and the first Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) intercept by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) – on July 11th – as well as another MRBM intercept test for THAAD on July 30th. These tests all validated operational capabilities deployed around the world, protecting over half a billion people this year.
We are about competitive cauldrons to force function greatness, team, and dominance, our opponents from North Korea to Russia and China are at their best and at a level that we have never seen before, we are forced to compete with that and win. Competitive cauldrons have to be in each of our cultures to bring out the best of the best – cross domain, cross services, and cross allies around the world.
The tide of missile defense is rolling in its momentum and around the world, that will gain more capability and more capacity through significantly added investment, as President Trump stated last week, and policy changes to enable its full potential of capabilities.
One of the greatest winners in Alabama’s History, Paul “Bear” Bryant invited us to Alabama in the fall of 1978 to compete and win, we have kept on coming back to Alabama in support of its development of the world’s greatest missile defense team.