Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

California Army Guard Brigade Works 24/7 to Defend Nation

California National Guard News feature by David Loeffler

2024 January 5

(JAN 5) VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. - Seven California Army National Guard members of Detachment 1, 100th Missile Defense Brigade, epitomize the National Guard's motto, "Always ready, always there."

The detachment, located in a windowless, nondescript building in a remote area, operates the Ground Missile Defense launch facilities and equipment to support the Missile Defense Element and Fire Direction Center.

Their mission, described as shooting a bullet with a bullet, is to intercept and destroy incoming ordnance, such as International Continental Ballistic Missiles from adversarial nations.

Although limited by size, the Soldiers of Detachment 1 can provide 24/7 monitoring, saving and enabling of ordnance chains to deliver Interceptors to the Fire Direction Center. All Soldiers of the unit are members of the California Army National Guard.

On Dec. 11, the Soldiers demonstrated their capabilities by launching a Ground-Based Interceptor missile from Vandenberg SFB that intercepted and destroyed a simulated missile attack. The test target was an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, or IRBM, launched from a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft northwest of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii. This successful "bullet hitting a bullet" took place in space, mere moments after the missile was launched from over 5,000 miles away.

"Three hundred defending 300 million is a phrase used to describe the mission of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade," said Army Capt. Scott Hoffman, 100th MDB Detachment 1 commander. "The defenders of Det. 1 here at Vandenberg, who are California National Guardsmen, the Colorado National Guardsmen of the 100th MDB, and Alaskan National Guardsmen at Fort Greely, make up roughly 300 Soldiers that make up the Ground Missile Defense mission that provide stability and certainty that the national security is protected."

Hoffman, a former enlisted Soldier, has served on the Ground Missile Defense mission in all three states. He describes his team as dedicated professionals who are always up to the job.

"Det. 1 is manned by California Army National Guard Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Orellano, one of the few enlisted members who has served in each of the tristate missions. "Not all of the team members originated from California. Many came from other states to perform the mission and meet the operational needs of the unit. I'm very proud of this team because we do a 24/7-365 mission, and they meet that mission despite the challenges. If I had a message to the American public, it would be that they can rest assured that the homeland will be defended."

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