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The 2020 Space and Missile Defense Command Civilians of the Year are, from left, Joseph “Erik” Hartel, SMDC Signals Intelligence Branch chief, located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., for the technical/technical management category; Timothy Shaffer, Space and Missile Defense School course manager/instructor, located at Colorado Springs, Colo., for the professional/technical category; and Lou Moss, Army NASA Detachment Military Liaison Office Army liaison, located at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for supporting staff category.

Three employees have been named Space and Missile Defense Command’s 2020 Civilians of the Year as they strive to be the best at supporting those defending the high ground.

The Civilians of the Year include Lou Moss, Army NASA Detachment Military Liaison Office Army liaison, located at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for supporting staff category; Timothy Shaffer, Space and Missile Defense School course manager/instructor, located at Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the professional/technical category; and Joseph “Erik” Hartel, SMDC Signals Intelligence Branch chief, located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, for the technical/technical management category.

When Soldiers are deployed to the International Space Station, Moss becomes the astronauts’ single point interface with the Army, and the Soldiers become completely reliant on her for all personnel matters, public relations and even direct family support. In the last year, Army astronauts conducted a Soyuz launch, two Soyuz landings and seven spacewalks. In each case, Moss provided hours of escort duties to families, dignitaries and celebrities. In February, Moss coordinated a major Army Recruiting Command initiative to host a nationwide recruit swearing-in ceremony of more than 800 new Soldiers, with the oath administered by Army astronaut Col. Andrew Morgan from the ISS. Moss processed the entire current batch of Army astronaut applications – 200 of them – while teleworking, without any additional assistance or the convenience of an office setting.

“It means so very much to me that I have been recognized for the work that I have done in this unique environment,” she said. “I am so surprised and honored to be chosen as the Civilian of the Year.

“I enjoy my job, because I get to work with some of the Army’s most elite Soldiers. Some of the highlights of my mission have been to see the Soldiers come to the detachment as astronaut candidates and then two years later become an astronaut. I have had the pleasure to see past and present Army astronauts go into space after years of intense training. I have also seen our assistant program managers arrive at NASA and step right into a job and perform at the highest level.”

Shaffer’s leadership in the development and execution of training in response to a new training requirement ensured that in less than two months he assisted in developing new courseware for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System Master Gunner Program ensuring that the homeland defense mission was successful. His vast knowledge and experience ensured that one of the SMDC commanding general’s top priority, to provide trained and ready Soldiers to the warfighter, is executed. He works closely with the Quality Assurance Branch to ensure that his training products are developed in accordance with Army standards and processes. Shaffer developed a plan and persuaded the Missile Defense Agency to provide classrooms, workspaces and training devices in the execution of the Missile Defense Operator and U.S. Northern Command/ North American Aerospace Defense Command qualification courses.

In his personal time, Shaffer serves as a drilling Army reservist. He volunteered to support the Space Symposium and serves as a member of the American Legion Post 209. His team was selected twice as the Team of the Quarter for the Army Space and Missile Defense School for their outstanding performance.

“I’m honored to have been considered given the high caliber of talent within the command,” Shaffer said. “Receiving this award means that I have a duty and obligation to continue managing courses, instructing, assisting other SMDC directorates, and supporting the warfighter and the schoolhouse to the greatest ability I can.

“I enjoy this job due to the organizations we, the Missile Defense Training Division, get to interact with. Namely the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, U.S. Northern Command, SMDC, Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, and the Missile Defense Agency to name a few, in order to make an impact on training and those that support our nation. I’ve also had the privilege of starting out in the (ground-based midcourse defense) brigade in 2003 and watching the unit and training change over time coming full circle to my current position. The highlight of our mission is watching our students graduate, whether it’s the one-week Army GMD Staff Course, four-and-a-half-week Missile Defense Officer Qualification Course, or the seven-and-a-half-week GMD Fire Control Qualification Course, and observing their growth throughout the curriculum.

“Congratulations to all fellow nominees, I’m truly humbled. We’re fortunate to have supportive supervisors and team members who allows us to continue SMD Center of Excellence’s mission through these trying times. Thank you all.”

Hartel’s exceptional leadership and management contributions enabled SMDC to reach mission goals that would not otherwise have been achieved. Hartel provided direct support to programs that enabled Soldiers within SMDC major subordinate elements, and in the U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theaters. Hartel’s commitments to excellence improved SMDC G-2 processes, saved intelligence community resources, and improved the Army’s success with the new U.S. Space Command. Hartel’s initiative, creativity and professionalism were evident in his collaboration with senior leaders across the command and the intelligence community.

In his personal time, Hartel is a senior board member of the Colorado Springs Racing Board of Directors; he has volunteered as an assistant race director for the Colorado State Road Race Championships every year since 2016; is a community bike ride leader for Trails End Trailblazers; is a volunteer mechanic at Kids-On-Bikes; a lifetime Association of the U.S. Army member; and a Military Intelligence Corps Association member.

“It is an honor and a complete surprise,” Hartel said. “To me, it means two important things. First, I have an excellent chain of command committed to recognizing their people. Secondly, I am truly privileged to have an incredibly talented team of military and civilian professionals working for me whose tireless commitment to the Army space mission and raw intellectual horsepower directly led to this recognition.

“I enjoy this job because of the genuinely stellar people with whom I work and the mission. My branch is one of the few organizations in this command that has continued to work (onsite) through the pandemic because we provide intelligence support to deployed 1st Space Brigade personnel and multiple combatant commands. Being able to provide such support to deployed forces is truly motivating. Additionally, space is a domain that presents new and complex analytical challenges daily, so there’s never a dull moment.”

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