During their summer break from learning how to lead the Soldiers of tomorrow, two West Point cadets interned with the Space and Missile Defense Command to discover how they are building future space and missile defense forces today.
U.S. Military Academy Cadets Jeffrey Green and Anusha Pakkam, who are heading into their sophomore year, also called the “Yuk” year at the “The Point,” began a summer internship at SMDC July 19 which ended Aug. 6. Pakkam’s majors are international law and space science where she hopes to become a JAG lawyer with a focus area in space, cyber and technology law. Green’s major is economics and he plans to branch in either infantry or aviation.
“I always knew I wanted to join the Army because of the incredible opportunities the United States has given me and my family,” Pakkam said. “I am a first-generation American and grew up with parents who always encouraged me to strive for excellence, while stressing the importance of dedication and perseverance – the same qualities which afforded them the opportunity to move to this country and fulfill their lifelong ‘American Dream.’ I am a product of that determination and know there is no better way to express my gratitude for my country than serving as an officer in the U.S. Army.
“I chose to attend West Point because I knew there would be no greater way to mold myself into the resilient and capable leader the Army needs me to be,” she added. “West Point is often referred to as ‘the preeminent leader development institution.’ Attending West Point is easily the greatest decision I’ve made.”
At West Point, Pakkam is a competitive shooter on Army’s NCAA rifle team. Outside of athletics, she is a peer tutor and a member of the Creative Writing Forum, the Space Engineering and Applied Research Team and the Hindu Student Association.
While at SMDC she was assigned to the Chief Technology Office where Pakkam collaborated on her research with Steven Pierce, Jack Tomkovich, Steve Eldridge and Dan Estremera.
“They expressed such passion and expertise in the future of the military’s technological capabilities and were instrumental to my research on legal guidelines for such technological advancement to ensure a safer world for those relying on the critical services the space environment provides,” Pakkam said. “I would most definitely advise cadets to come to SMDC any opportunity they can find. The people are truly the heart of this organization. Everywhere you turn, there is an industry expert who is so willing to share their knowledge with you, aid in your research and do what they can to provide you with every resource to build your knowledge.
“There is so much passion in this command for the work they do and the people who make up this organization. These are some of the foundational factors that aid in the continued success in the research and development here at SMDC. There is no better place I could have been to conduct my research this summer. I would like to say thank you to the many people in the command who took me under their wing over the course of my internship, giving me resources and putting me on the path to become the best officer I can be one day.”
As her peer at West Point, Green is a member of his company’s Sandhurst team, which is an annual competition where ROTC teams, service academy teams, and international teams come together to compete in events such as rifle marksmanship, land navigation and ruck marching.
Green talked about why he wanted to go to West Point and be a leader in the Army.
“I enlisted into the Army in 2017 because I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself and because I wanted to help defend the country that I love,” Green said. “Really, it was a sense of patriotism that had been instilled in me from a young age. A couple years later, I chose to go to West Point in order to get a phenomenal education and expand my opportunities for service in the Army. I hadn’t finished college when I enlisted, and that had always been a top priority for me.”
Green said he requested to come the SMDC for his internship because he was interested in Army space operations.
“In addition, I grew up in Huntsville and had always wanted a chance to see what goes on at Redstone Arsenal. During the second semester of my freshman year, I applied for West Point’s Academic Individual Advanced Development program and listed my three top choices for the AIAD program. Luckily, I got my first pick which was SMDC.”
While at SMDC Green was assigned to the G-8 department.
“Throughout my short time in the Army, I hadn’t really gotten to see the impact that Army civilians make,” he said. “During my time at SMDC, I was able to witness firsthand how vital Army civilians are to accomplishing the mission and directly impacting the warfighter. It was really neat to see how Soldiers and civilians work together in a very professional environment to accomplish SMDC’s mission.”
Green said he could see himself coming back to SMDC during the course of his Army career.
“I would love to come back to SMDC,” he said. “After learning more about the Functional Area 40 Space Operations branch, I am interested in pursuing space operations later on in my career. My time at SMDC has not only given me an amazing exposure to the logistical workings of the Army, but it has provided me with a clearer understanding of what the Army does in space and how they do it.
“It would be incredible to come back and work at SMDC. It has exposed me to the FA40 branch, which is something I now want to pursue. It has been an honor and a pleasure to have been able to spend time here.”