COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) hosted a mobile training team from the Defense Nuclear Weapons School to teach Soldiers the basics of nuclear weapons at the brigade’s headquarters Sept. 14-17.
Four instructors traveled to Colorado Springs to lead the Nuclear Weapons Orientation Course – an overview of the history and development of nuclear weapons, management of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, and the issues and challenges facing the program – to an audience of 24 Soldiers from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade and Colorado Army National Guard.
The course is typically hosted at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, but the pandemic shut down the school house and ceased resident training in March. With the resources of the Army’s Foundry program and through the efforts of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade’s intelligence section, it was delivered locally.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade’s assistant intelligence officer, 2nd Lt. Edwin Wiley, explained that this course is especially relevant to the mission of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, which is to defend the U.S. and designated areas from intercontinental ballistic missile attack.
“Here in the brigade, we talk a lot about threat missiles and their capabilities, but not about the warheads themselves and the destruction they can cause,” said Wiley. “I wanted to expand my knowledge base to better understand the weapons that we seek to counter in homeland missile defense.”
The Defense Nuclear Weapons School’s website defines its mission as providing nuclear enterprise and countering weapons of mass destruction education and training in support of joint service and interagency organizations worldwide. The functional areas of the Nuclear Weapons Orientation Course are nuclear weapon fundamentals, nuclear weapon effects, nuclear weapons stockpile, and foreign nuclear weapon capabilities/proliferation.
Wiley attended the resident course in February and encouraged more Soldiers to attend, but since the resident training was unavailable he initiated bringing the course here.
“It’s a fantastic course,” Wiley said. “I am passionate about professional development and education, and I believe this course ties directly to our mission set and is an element of our development that can be enhanced.”
Wiley coordinated the funding and scheduling for the mobile training team and invited 100th Brigade Soldiers as well as Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers from other units to attend. The first registered student was Colorado Army National Guard commander Brig. Gen. Doug Paul.
Paul said while it is necessary for space and missile defense service members to understand foreign and U.S. nuclear capabilities, he believes other Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers can benefit from this curriculum as well.
“It’s pertinent for others to understand so we know where each of our units and each of our missions fit in the greater scheme of strategic nuclear power,” said Paul.
The mobile training team comprised two Air Force officers, an Air Force noncommissioned officer and a civilian. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandi Robertson, an instructor, said this experience was special for her because this was the first Nuclear Weapons Orientation Course she has taught since March because of the pandemic.
“We had a blast teaching at the 100th Missile Defense Brigade,” Robertson said. “It was such a unique experience to branch out to both the Army and Army National Guard, not only for the course instruction, but also our own development.
“Prior to the class, my team and I didn't really grasp the impact the (100th Missile Defense Brigade) had within the nuclear enterprise. The students were receptive and provided insight from their units and prior experiences,” Robertson said. “Overall, we are happy to have had the experience and look forward to coordinating in the future.”