The Army’s newest center of excellence has its first commandant.
Col. William Starr, commandant, Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, Space and Missile Defense Command, was assigned to his new position in December.
“We stood up the commandant position as part of the transition of the Future Warfare Center to a Center of Excellence,” Starr said. “Essentially, I am responsible for oversight and integration of the Army Space Personnel Development Office, the personnel proponent for the Army’s Functional Area 40, and the Space and Missile Defense School.”
FA40s are space operations officers, and according to Starr they are the Army’s space experts. They are assigned throughout the Army at all echelons from fires brigades to theater Army service components to interagencies and are integrating space in support of land operations for the Army.
With the Army as a cornerstone partner for U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command, Starr said the Army and SMDC provide ready warfighting space capabilities to enhance operational effectiveness while deterring, denying and dominating the adversary’s space capabilities.
“The addition of the commandant office is building synergy between ASPDO and the school,” Starr said. “As they work more closely together we can get out in front of changes that are coming throughout the force for FA40s and space overall to create a better product in support of the warfighter.”
He added that space is a warfighting domain and continues to be an operational environment that Army units and Soldiers depend on to execute their tactical-level missions.
“In the Army, each branch and military occupational specialty receives training in a specific set of skills,” Starr said. “The Army requires all of those skills to be successful. Our space Soldiers have unique training and education and are able to use that knowledge to provide space capabilities to maneuver commanders to benefit the warfighter and the mission.”
Starr said the school and ASPDO are already doing tremendous work for the Army, and his role is not to create another level of bureaucracy in their operations.
“I am here to let them focus more on their mission and to provide more integration on their behalf to get things done for them,” he said.
As the Army continues to retain its service-unique space capabilities and personnel to enable multi-domain operations while operating in and overcoming the challenges of a degraded, denied and disrupted space operations environment, Starr said the Center of Excellence will be there to continue training Soldiers to provide and integrate space capabilities.
“As the commandant, I am the single point of contact for the training side of the house with the school, and also the personnel side of the house for our FA40s,” he said. “To the tactical users of space, it means that we can more quickly adapt to things we are seeing in the field by transitioning those lessons learned throughout the rest of the Army, making it a faster process for the Army, especially as space continues to integrate into our tactical formations.”
Daryl Breitbach, director of the Space and Missile Defense School, said the establishment of the commandant organizes the Army space and missile defense personnel proponent and the school’s education, training and doctrine development functions under a single organization and aligns the organization with the structure of other Army centers of excellence.
“The Space and Missile Defense School continues to coordinate across the entire Army education and training enterprise from institutional Army school education and training to unit home station training and combat training center rotations to integrate space,” Breitbach said. “The Space and Missile Defense School is educating and training combat forces on how space capabilities enable, protect and increase the lethality of all Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict.
“Within the Army Space and Missile Defense School we are training the Army’s space and missile defense forces of tomorrow to plan and integrate space and missile defense capabilities to support joint and Army warfighting readiness within all formation echelons and across all warfighting domains.”