Aug 09 2007

Missile Defense Agency has new homeVon Braun II building opens with dedication

Redstone Rockets

By Kelley Lane-Sivley

Program directors, project managers, employees and politicians gathered in front of the Von Braun Complexs new addition July 30 to talk about the past, present and future.

This is a good day for Redstone Arsenal and a great day for the United States of America, Sen. Richard Shelby said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official commissioning of building 5222, also known as Von Braun II, and the close of construction on the project. It took almost two years and $44.4 million to complete the 240,000 square foot facility, which will house the Missile Defense Agency.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, director of MDA, acknowledged that this facility is just the first step toward his agencys future.

This is the physical manifestation of the first major milestone of MDAs move to the Tennessee Valley, Obering said.

He spoke briefly about MDAs importance to the Global War on Terror, both now and in years to come.

With the developments in North Korea last year, for the first time ever, our president had the option of activating a defensive system to protect the nation, he said. He praised the joint effort of lawmakers, workers and industry which makes that possible. It was a sentiment echoed by the speaker who followed him.

Part of the reason we are here today, among other things, is to continue to build that shield that protects our nation, Shelby said.

In addition to Obering and Shelby, audience members heard from Sen. Jeff Sessions, Reps. Bud Cramer and Robert Aderholt, and Huntsville Mayor Loretta Spencer.

One of the most eye catching features of the building isnt part of the structure itself. On the back wall of the lobby area are five pages, hand-edited with scribbled notes and revisions, in a simple wooden frame. It is the Star Wars speech given by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 where he outlined a plan to use missiles to defend the country against attack.

The display serves not only as decoration, but as a birth certificate of sorts for MDA.

In 1983 President Reagan had a vision, Obering said. What you are witnessing and being a party to is a realization of that vision.

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commissions recommendations included moving significant portions of the Missile Defense Agency from the Washington, D.C. area to Redstone Arsenal by 2011. The Von Braun II building is expected to hold more than 950 MDA employees.

Construction of the next phases of the Von Braun Complex is already being planned.

It wont be long until we have the third phase, Shelby said. Then what comes after that, as you well know, is the Army Materiel Command.