Leaders from across North Alabama glimpsed the past, present and future of national defense, law enforcement and space exploration during a behind the gates tour of Redstone Arsenal, Feb. 3.
Members of Leadership Greater Huntsville saw demonstrations and received overviews from the Garrison, FBI, Army Materiel Command, Space and Missile Defense Command, NASA and other organizations.
“We have got to be about ‘People First,” Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, SMDC commander, said. “All of those cool systems that you saw and all that ‘gee-whiz’ technology, it’s really all the people who are the ones who make the command work. We couldn’t do that without the support of the Huntsville community. Being really good partners with Huntsville in terms of getting talent and then having them stay here to continue to serve and contribute within the community is really important to what we do.
“About 60% of our civilian workforce are veterans, not just the Army but across all of the services. The synergy we get out of this community – the civilian help we get and the folks who retire here because it is a great area – is just fantastic. The relationship between what Redstone Arsenal has and the Huntsville community is incredible. You certainly have a lot to be proud of.”
The purpose of the visit was to provide local community leaders with the history and an understanding of the synergy of Team Redstone. The experience was designed to help participants better understand the work done on the installation and the local, national and global impact of the diverse array of organizations that call Redstone Arsenal home.
Prior to their windshield tour, the Leadership Greater Huntsville members received an installation overview from Lt. Gen. Donnie Walker, AMC deputy commander and senior commander of Redstone Arsenal.
“We couldn’t do the global mission we do today if it weren’t for the tremendous partnerships we have with the community,” Walker said. “We hope you walk away from today’s leadership class with a better understanding of the missions of Redstone Arsenal, what our future looks like and how the community contributes to the global impact we have here at Redstone Arsenal.
“The health and growth of this installation is a top priority for the Department of Defense and numerous federal agencies, and we are charged with ensuring the conditions are set for the 40,000-plus employees so they can achieve in their mission tasks.”
During the tour, FBI Redstone briefed its master plan overview, and participants observed a TOW – which stands for tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided – missile demonstration at the Redstone Test Center. Afterward, members received command overviews from AMC and SMDC as well as an overview of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
The visitors joined a synergies panel with leaders from Missile and Space Intelligence Center, SMDC, Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, Marshall and Army Future Vertical Lift, Cross Functional Team.
Eric Terrell, assistant superintendent of Madison City Schools, said he had an outstanding day visiting behind Redstone Arsenal’s gates and hearing from its leaders.
“They want to be a part of the community, not just behind the gates, but they want to be a part of the Madison County and Madison city communities as a whole,” Terrell said. “To hear that from leaders and see the things they are doing to make that happen and put things in place so these communities can be more of a part of Redstone Arsenal is awesome.
“There are so many different things here students can get into in regards to engineering, cybersecurity and even restaurants. Redstone Arsenal is like its own mini-city and there are so many things students can get involved with that take place behind the gates.”
Terrell said the leadership program provides the opportunity to make friendships and connections with people who want to make change within the community. He also said that what the installation does for the Tennessee Valley and the nation is incredible.
“I think it is great that Redstone Arsenal has always been, and will continue to be, a great asset to our community and the state of Alabama,” he said.
The Leadership Greater Huntsville organization exists to identify, educate, inspire and connect leaders to build a better community through servant leadership. The 10-month program is designed for established senior leaders who have demonstrated leadership experience and proven success over significant business operations.
Lisa Davis Mays, CEO of The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship, said it is a great program for those interested in giving back to the community.
“It’s a great way to make new friends who are in the same leadership boat that you are and exchange best practices and provide support and encouragement,” Mays said. “I think we have all had a great time and we’ve learned a lot of things. We have seen things we wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to see. We saw a lot of different facilities and got to watch some testing, which was thrilling. We all know the Arsenal is here, but being able to come behind the gates and see and hear about some of the really cool things that are happening here have been exciting. It just helps us appreciate more what people here are doing to make not only our community but our country safer and better.”