20 years ago, our nation withdrew from the ABM Treaty, NORTHCOM was formed, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization changed its name to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and our organization MDAA was founded. The collective threat of North Korea and 9/11 drove absolute urgency to develop and deploy missile defenses rapidly for our nation and our population, which did not have any in place. In 2005, three years later, our nation rapidly deployed our Ground-Based Missile Defense System (GBI) to negate the North Korea ICBM threat and deployed a 360-degree cruise missile defense system (NASAMS) around the National Capital Region. This remarkable rapid development and deployment engineering system achievements were done under the command of the MDA and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC), which were centered around and came from the military space and missile industry complex of Huntsville, Alabama, producing the best engineers and the best developers in the United States to do this mission. Led by SMDC Commander LTG Larry Dodgen and the Missile Defense Agency Director LTG Ronald Kadish and great political support from Senators Shelby and Sessions of Alabama, as well as Congressmen Cramer and Aderholt. Champions associate with Champions to be Champions.
With this intent, alignment, and history, we held our 20th Annual Breakfast of Champions at the 2022 Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
“We have been here for 20 years, and I want to just go back 20 years ago because that was a monumental time. In 2002, a lot of big things happened. We withdrew from the ABM treaty. We created NORAD, and MDAA was founded to support that. And we had a mission to put forward a ground-based system to defend against North Korea, this community. And we had a mission to put 360-degree cruise missile defense around Washington, D.C. That all that was right there in 2002, Huntsville, your huge movements to actually put this stuff in. I think the first GBI went in the hole in 2004. We were there for that in 2004, we had a system operational in 2005. We had a system operational for the defense of Washington, D.C. That’s still in place today. Both of them are still in place today and prosper. That’s 20 years ago. This community took it on and went after it and got it done. And there was a lot of political strife going through that.”
Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance at the Hunstville Breakfast of Champions, August 10, 2022.
As we reflect back 20 years, today with Taiwan and Ukraine, the strategic landscape has changed and we face a tremendous challenge at a much bigger magnitude of threat than 20 years ago. Our Champion Community must be unified, must have great urgency to develop and deploy missile defense capability and capacity rapidly for our Combatant Commanders and their Joint warfighters that are facing the threat directly and fighting the fight to deter and defeat today.
“We’re seeing China using the weapons to control the strait and to show their power. So the threat has never been this great ever. So there is a calling. There is action to happen. And so 20 years ago today we were focused on a small country, North Korea threat to create an architecture today we’re focused on taking on China and it’s you here in this room, that’s got to step up and got to play.”
It always remains about our development and leadership of our people. They are the greatest weapon system of all, and they are our greatest strength we being to bear. We recognize that.
The 2022 Huntsville Breakfast of Champions Recipients:
Brenda Davidson, Lockheed Martin
KC Berner, Lockheed Martin
Ken Spurlock, Raytheon
Jim Leary, Boeing
Lauree Shampine, L3Harris
Mike Simms, ASRC Federal Agile Decision Sciences
Mark Fowler, IERUS Technologies
Lars Krogh Vammen, Weibel
Shaun Lott, Enercon
Brad Cothran, Cimarron
Kevin McCombs, BAE Systems
Dr. Patti Dare, Davidson Tech
We were honored to have some of the nation’s greatest active missile defenders in attendance to recognize their champions: General Jim Dickinson, Commander, U.S. Space Command; Vice Admiral Jon Hill, Director, Missile Defense Agency; Lieutenant General Dan Karbler, Commanding General USASMDC/ARSTRAT, JFCC-IMD; Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology); Major General Sean Gainey, Director, Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office/Director of Fires, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7; Major General Frank Rice, Commanding General, 263rd AAMDC; Major General Brian Gibson, Commanding General, 94th AAMDC; Brigadier General David Stewart, 32nd AAMDC; and Mayor Paul Finley, City of Madison. Their presence amplified the value of those recognized as our Alabama champions from SMDC and our Alabama community.
War Eagle, Roll Tide, and Fight On!
Click here to view pictures from the 2022 Huntsville Breakfast of Champions event