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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Army does not stop its missions and operations, including educating and training its future officers.

On April 29, Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commander of the Space and Missile Defense Command, and Steve Pierce, SMDC chief technology officer, were remote guest speakers for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Karbler planned to visit West Point in person, but the school switched to conducting classes remotely amid the pandemic. He spoke via videoconference from his home office to two space physics classes, instructed by Lt. Col. Diana Loucks, West Point professor, the Research Program director, and director of the Space and Missile Defense Command Research and Analysis Center in the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering.

Pierce started off the class discussing the history and technology of Army space. Karbler followed him discussing the operational aspects of the command. He explained how the pandemic has impacted SMDC and told the cadets how his team was overcoming the obstacles created by teleworking, wearing masks and staying tuned in to the Department of Defense, the Army and regional guidance.

After leading the lecture, Karbler fielded questions from the cadets including topics of Karbler’s experience in air defense, U.S. Space Force, opportunities to become space operations officers and ways to prepare for successful air defense and space Army careers.

Loucks said the engagement was impactful.

“The cadets were happy to hear from both Lt. Gen. Karbler and Dr. Pierce,” she said. “They provided context to a developing situation regarding Army space operations, opportunities for Functional Area-A40s, and the growth of both U.S. Space Command and the U.S. Space Force.”

Karbler and Pierce also participated in West Point’s Air Defense Artillery Officer Forum and FA-40 (space operations officer) forum. These forums were conducted online and were available for both cadets and West Point faculty members.

“I appreciated the deliberate but also uplifting conversations,” Loucks said. “Lt. Gen. Karbler and Dr. Pierce both shared personal stories about themselves, their careers and even their families that the cadets were able to identify with and that resonated with the active duty members of the group.”

On April 30, Karbler also virtually attended several cadet presentations from the department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering for West Point’s annual Projects Day, which is an opportunity for cadets to present the results of their research or engineering design efforts from the past academic year.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for the Army, personnel are ensuring training and education continue.

“We all wish the engagements would have been in person,” Loucks said, “but we’re happy that we were able to leverage technology to make the most of the current global situation.”

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