By Sgt. Benjamin Crane
100th Missile Defense Brigade Public Affairs
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The commander of the U.S. Strategic Command visited the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Training Exercise Center April 4 to visit Soldiers in the first Command Launch Equipment Operators Course.
Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler dropped in on the missile defenders during their training to see for himself the newest course offered by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Training and Exercise Center.
This is the first time this two-week course has been offered to the Soldiers. The CLE has historically been manned by civilian contractors but due to recent mandates, the military has decided that since the CLE is an integral part of the GMD system, it should be manned by a Warfighter.
“I think it’s important for him to be able to see what the Warfighter is going to do in the CLE and how they fit in with the GMD,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew Betzmer, systems integrator for the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and training developer for the GTEC.
The CLE operators watch and maintain the systems that monitor the status of the Ground-based Interceptors while still in the ground.
The purpose for the course is to teach the Warfighter how to operate the command launch equipment for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System,” said Betzmer. “We want a Warfighter in the kill chain and having Soldiers there will complete that.”
To qualify for this course, Soldiers have to be GMD operators so they would have experience with the systems and already been though the basic courses.
“We want them to have a good understanding of what the CLE does, where it fits into the ballistic missile defense system architecture and what it provides to the GMD,” added Betzmer.
Since it was the pilot class for the GTEC instructors, they had to make sure the information was presented in a way that Soldiers understood, and they tried to iron out all the wrinkles they could going into the class.
“The class went very smoothly,” said 1st Lt. Juan Andrini, a student in the CLE course and soon to be Detachment 1, 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander at Vandenberg, Calif. “The class did exactly what it was designed to do by teaching me the CLE hardware and CLE software and I feel confident that I know how to do my job.”
Having the general visit this historic class spoke volumes to the Soldiers in the class and even to the missile defense community as a whole.
“I think the most impactful thing the general said while he was talking to the Soldiers in the class was that even though the president and secretary of defense don’t know who we were individually, they know we are here and what we do,” said Andrini. “That was good to hear from our standpoint.”