Space and Missile Defense Command
Shoulder Sleeve Insignia
Active1 October 1997 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Army
Part ofUnited States Space Command
United States Strategic Command
HeadquartersRedstone Arsenal, Alabama, U.S.
Commanding GeneralLTG Sean A. Gainey
Deputy Commanding General for OperationsCOL John L. Dawber
Command Sergeant MajorCSM John W. Foley
Distinctive Unit Insignia

The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) is the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) for United States Strategic Command and United States Space Command. It was established in 1985 as the Army Strategic Defense Command, responsible for ballistic missile defense. In 1992, it merged with Army Space Command to become Army Space and Strategic Defense Command. In 1997, it became an Army Major Command and was redesignated Army Space and Missile Defense Command.[1]

Army Space and Missile Defense Command is responsible for developing and providing the Army with space, missile defense and high altitude capabilities. It consists of two operational elements: the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and the 1st Space Brigade.[2] The current Army Space and Missile Defense Command commander is Lieutenant General Sean Gainey with Command Sergeant Major John W. Foley serving as the senior enlisted advisor.[3] The commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command also serves as the commander of United States Space Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

Following the Space Force's establishment, the Army's continued involvement with space has become controversial, with multiple proposals and reports advocating for the Space Force to absorb the Army's remaining space forces, as it did with the Navy's space forces, or even Space and Missile Defense Command as a whole.[4][5][6][7] The Space Force has absorbed the Army's satellite communications mission and the Joint Tactical Ground Stations, while the Army maintains the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and a downsized 1st Space Brigade. The Army is attempting to redefine its role in space operations, focused on integrating and interdicting space capabilities for land forces.[8]


The SMDC is made up of several components, Active Army and full-time Army National Guard, due to the 24-hour a day, 7-day a week, 365-day a year nature of SMDC's mission:[9]

Name Mission Headquarters
100th Missile Defense Brigade (100 MDB) Operates the ground-based midcourse defense system[10] Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
1st Space Brigade Provide trained and ready space forces to conduct continuous global space force enhancement, space support, space control and special missions[11] Colorado Springs, Colorado
Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence Builds and enables space and missile defense forces responsive to warfighter needs[12] Colorado Springs, Colorado
Technical Center Provides technologies to meet today’s requirements and future needs in directed energy, space, cyberspace, hypersonics and integrated air and missile defense[13] Redstone Arsenal, Alabama


A Sprint missile maneuvering after launch

The Army's involvement with ballistic missile defense can be traced back to the Nike Zeus program in the late-1950s, being developed to counter the Soviet Union's ballistic missiles, however, it was never deployed. This was followed by the Nike-X program, which was replaced by the Sentinel program in 1967 before deployment. The Sentinel program was highly ambitious, intending to operationally deploy 6 Perimeter Acquisition Radars, 17 Missile Site Radars, 480 long-range LIM-49 Spartan missiles, and 220 short-range Sprint missiles. Army support for the Sentinel waned as more resources were required to support its land forces in Vietnam, rather than the secondary mission of ballistic missile defense. Controversy over the Sentinel program led to its suspension in 1969 and it was replaced by the Safeguard program within the year.[14]

Unlike Sentinel, which was intended to protect large areas of the United States, Safeguard was focused on defending the Air Force's missile fields and against a more limited nuclear attack from China. The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty limited the United States and Soviet Union to two anti-ballistic missile sites, later reduced to on in 1974. Only one Safeguard site, at what is now Cavalier Space Force Station, ever reached full operating capability before the program was canceled under congressional pressure in December 1975. The single operational Perimeter Acquisition Radar was repurposed as part of the NORAD early warning system and transferred to the Air Force in 1977. It currently is operated by the Space Force's 10th Space Warning Squadron.[15]

A Ground-Based Midcourse Defense after launch

President Ronald Reagan's 1983 announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative reinvigorated the Army's missile defense enterprise. The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization was a multi-service organization, consisting of Army, Navy, and Air Force elements. On 1 July 1985, the Army established the Army Strategic Defense Command and served as the lead for ground-based interceptors while the Air Force led the space-based elements of the program.[16]

Following the creation of United States Space Command, the Army was the last of the three services to create a space command. Army Space Command was the smallest, being led by a Colonel. Ultimately, the Army chose to cut Army Space Command staffing by ten percent and merge it with Army Strategic Defense Command to form Army Space and Strategic Defense Command in 1992. Following the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Strategic Defense Initiative was significantly scaled back to focus on protection against limited strikes and the Army began to refocus on theater missile defense.[17]

Army Space Command continued to exist as a specialized sub-command within Army Space and Strategic Defense Command. On 1 May 1995, Army Space Command's Military Satellite Communications Directorate, responsible for operating the Defense Satellite Communications System payload became the 1st Satellite Control Battalion. This was the first regular Army unit with an operational space mission.[18] It also began fielding the Joint Tactical Ground Station and Army Space Support Teams.[19]

In 1997, the Army Space and Strategic Defense Command was renamed Army Space and Missile Defense Command and elevated to a full major command. Following the September 11 attacks, the Army was directed to deploy a national missile defense system, which would become the Ground-Based Midcourse Defenses.[20]

The United States Army Futures Command, formed 24 August 2018, gives priority to modernization of air and missile defense.[21]: minute 6:07 [22][23][24] Cross-functional teams[25][26] were instituted to oversee the modernization effort[27][28] in the areas of hypersonic systems,[29][30][31] maneuver SHORAD (M-SHORAD)[32] and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).[33]

Mission transfers to the United States Space Force

Transfer of the Army satellite communications mission to the Space Force.

When the Space Force was established in 2019 it was intended to consolidate the existing military space forces across the Army, Navy, and Air Force.[34] When the Space Force was established, the greatest resistance to transferring its space forces came from the Army. At the time of the Space Force's establishment in 2019, the Army had three major space operations units: the 1st Space Brigade, 100th Missile Defense Brigade, and the Army Satellite Operations Brigade.[4]

On 21 September 2021, the Army and Space Force announced that the Army's Satellite Operations Brigade would be transferring into the new service.[35] While the Space Force, and Air Force before it, had operated the Defense Satellite Communications System and Wideband Global SATCOM satellites, the Army had traditionally operated the payloads. Payload operates were conducted by the 53d Signal Battalion since 2005 when it replaced the 1st Satellite Control Battalion, which conducted the mission from 1995 to 2005.[36] In 2019, just prior to the Space Force's establishment, the Army established Task Force Eagle, reassigning the 53d Signal Battalion from the 1st Space Brigade and moving elements from Space and Missile Defense Command's G-6 headquarters to consolidate Army satellite communications. Task Force Eagle was renamed the Army Satellite Operations Brigade in 2019.[37] On 15 August 2022, the Army's satellite communications mission was officially transferred to the Space Force and assumed by Space Delta 8 and the 53rd Space Operations Squadron, which took its number to honor the 53rd Signal Battalion.[38]

The debate over the transfer of missile warning was extremely contentions, leading to debates on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Space Force, and Air Force Space Command before it, had responsibility for global and national missile warning, while the Army had a small element for regional missile warning.[4] The Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) was operated by the Army's 1st Space Brigade, receiving, processing and disseminating data from the Space Force's missile warning satellites. Following the satellite communications' transfer, the Army and Space Force began negotiating transferring the missile warning mission.[39] In January 2023, the Space Force announced that the Army agreed to transfer the JTAGS mission to Space Delta 4, fully assuming the mission on 1 October 2023 and activating the 5th Space Warning Squadron.[40][41]

Launch of an Army Ground Based Interceptor from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

There are still calls for the Army to follow the Navy in transferring all of its space forces to the Space Force. The Heritage Foundation has called for the wholesale transfer of Army Space and Missile Defense Command to the Space Force.[4] The 100th Missile Defense Brigade operates the Ground Based Interceptor system out of Schriever Space Force Base, Vandenberg Space Force Base, and Fort Greely.[42] Former Air Force space officers have called to move this mission to the Space Force and the Center for Strategic and International Studies included moving missile defense into the Space Force.[43][44] The Army also continues to maintain a cadre of Functional Area 40 space operations officers, although over 85% indicated they would transfer to the Space Force if able.[45] The Army is also maintaining a downsized 1st Space Brigade, however the RAND Corporation has conducted a study calling for the transfer of the Army's space control forces to the Space Force.[46][47]

The Army has attempted to carve out a role in space operations, with its 2024 Army Space Vision outlining the service's space mission as integrating space capabilities and interdicting adversary space capabilities, including counter-satellite communications, counter-surveillance and reconnaissance, and navigation warfare in support of land operations.[48][49] Responsibility for conducting these operations rest with Army Multi-Domain Task Forces and a new space formation called the Theater Strike Effects Group.[50] However, the Army is no longer looking to develop and deploy its own constellations of satellites.[51]

List of commanding generals

No. Commanding General[52] Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
Commanding General, U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command
John F. Wall
Wall, John F.Lieutenant General
John F. Wall
(born 1931)
1 July 198524 May 19882 years, 328 days
Robert L. Stewart
Stewart, Robert L.Brigadier General
Robert L. Stewart
(born 1942)
24 May 198811 July 198848 days
Robert D. Hammond
Hammond, Robert D.Lieutenant General
Robert D. Hammond
11 July 198830 June 19923 years, 355 days
William J. Schumacher
Schumacher, William J.Brigadier General
William J. Schumacher
30 June 199231 July 199231 days
Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command
Donald M. Lionetti
Lionetti, Donald M.Lieutenant General
Donald M. Lionetti
24 August 19926 September 19942 years, 13 days
Jay M. Garner
Garner, Jay M.Lieutenant General
Jay M. Garner
(born 1938)
6 September 19947 October 19962 years, 31 days
Edward G. Anderson III
Anderson, Edward G. IIILieutenant General
Edward G. Anderson III
7 October 19961 October 1997359 days
Commanding General, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
Edward G. Anderson III
Anderson, Edward G. IIILieutenant General
Edward G. Anderson III
1 October 19976 August 1998309 days
Steven W. Flohr
Flohr, Steven W.Colonel
Steven W. Flohr
6 August 19981 October 199856 days
John P. Costello
Costello, John P.Lieutenant General
John P. Costello
1 October 199828 March 20012 years, 178 days
John M. Urias
Urias, John M.Brigadier General
John M. Urias
28 March 200130 April 200133 days
Joseph M. Cosumano Jr.
Cosumano, Joseph M. Jr.Lieutenant General
Joseph M. Cosumano Jr.
(born 1946)
30 April 200116 December 20032 years, 230 days
Larry J. Dodgen
Dodgen, Larry J.Lieutenant General
Larry J. Dodgen
16 December 200318 December 20063 years, 2 days
Kevin T. Campbell
Campbell, Kevin T.Lieutenant General
Kevin T. Campbell
18 December 200615 December 20103 years, 362 days
Richard P. Formica
Formica, Richard P.Lieutenant General
Richard P. Formica
15 December 201012 August 20132 years, 240 days
David L. Mann
Mann, David L.Lieutenant General
David L. Mann
12 August 20135 January 2017[note 1][53]3 years, 146 days
James H. Dickinson
Dickinson, James H.Lieutenant General
James H. Dickinson
(born c. 1963)
5 January 20175 December 20192 years, 334 days
Daniel L. Karbler
Karbler, Daniel K.Lieutenant General
Daniel L. Karbler
6 December 20199 January 20244 years, 34 days
Sean A. Gainey
Gainey, SeanLieutenant General
Sean A. Gainey
9 January 2024Incumbent45 days


  1. ^ LTG David Mann's term was extended beyond August 2016 due to the death of his confirmed successor MG John G. Rossi.

See also

Comparable organizations


  1. ^
  2. ^ "SMDC Command Video | 2023". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  3. ^ Jen Judson (Oct 2021) The future of the Army in space interview of LTG Daniel Karbler at AUSA: Next conflict will start in Space. Space command is 24/7. Theater-level strike effects group (TSEG) will be an Army org.
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  10. ^ "100th Missile Defense Brigade". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  11. ^ "1st Space Brigade". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  12. ^ "Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Technical Center". Retrieved 30 January 2024.
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  21. ^ DVIDs video, 24 August 2018 press conference
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  23. ^ AFC announcement, Friday (13 July 2018) Army Officials Announce New Army Command video 34 minutes, 27 seconds
  24. ^ Sydney J. Freeberg, Jr. (28 May 2019) Beyond INF: An Affordable Arsenal Of Long-Range Missiles? INF Treaty likely to expire in August 2019
  25. ^ Air and missile defense CFT (14 March 2018) Air and Missile Defense
  26. ^ Army Directive 2017–24 (Cross-Functional Team Pilot In Support of Materiel Development)
  27. ^ David Vergun, (22 February 2019) DOD official describes missile defense strategy
  28. ^ Loren Thompson (3 October 2019) Pentagon's Next-Gen Missile Defense Plan Could Leave U.S. Poorly Protected For Years
  29. ^ Sydney J. Freeberg, Jr. (26 January 2018) $86,000 + 5,600 MPH = Hyper Velocity Missile Defense
  30. ^ Sydney J. Freeberg, Jr. (22 August 2018) Why Hypersonics Are No. 1
  31. ^ Joe Lacdan (16 October 2018) The Army joins the Air Force, Navy in attempt to develop hypersonic weaponry
  32. ^ Samantha Hill (SMDC/ARSTRAT) (25 February 2019) Dickinson highlights key developments in missile development and space SHORAD
  33. ^ (19 March 2018) Air and missile defense CFT pursuing 'layered and tiered approach'
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  45. ^ Erwin, Sandra (28 April 2020). "Survey: Most Army space officers would transfer to the U.S. Space Force". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
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  47. ^ Hitchens, Theresa (16 March 2020). "Space Force May Be Too Small: RAND". Breaking Defense. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
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  50. ^ Judson, Jen (9 January 2024). "US Army carves out its role in space". Defense News. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  51. ^ Jr, Sydney J. Freedberg (11 March 2020). "Army Won't Build Recon Satellites: Lt. Gen. Berrier". Breaking Defense. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
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