Redstone Arsenal has served as the center of the US Army’s missile and rocket programs for over 50 years. The army base, which can be found in northern Alabama at the Tennessee Valley, has a picturesque setting, including having areas dedicated for fishing, boating, picnicking, biking, water skiing, and hiking. Its beauty belies its main purpose of being the home of several army units and commands, including the US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), the Space and Missile Defense Command, several units of the Missile Defense Agency and the Defense Intelligence Command, and Program Executive Offices (PEO). NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center can also be found in Redstone Arsenal. The first phase of EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) training may also be done in Redstone Arsenal (the alternate venue is in Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia). The 10-week training program will orient the soldiers in explosives ordnance and provide them training in safe handling techniques.
Redstone Arsenal occupies 37,910 acres, of which 11.7 million square feet is used as building space.
Mission of Redstone Arsenal:
The main mission of Redstone Arsenal is to “continuously provide high quality, effective, and efficient installation operations support and quality of life programs to all of Team Redstone.” The base seeks to fulfill this by looking not only after the troops but also the civilian employees and the families of these people as well, to help everyone in Redstone Arsenal achieve a good work-life balance.
As the heart of the missile and rocket programs in America, it is also the mission of Redstone Arsenal to research, test, develop, repair, maintain, and purchase rockets or missiles for the US Army. Furthermore, the base is also responsible for providing their soldiers with training (both basic and advanced) in weapons system research and development. They are responsible for keeping their soldiers trained and always ready to fight. They are tasked with making sure that their troops are provided with the appropriate aviation and missiles systems that they will need in combat. At the same time, it is part of Redstone Arsenal’s responsibility to always be ready to provide services, supplies, and weapon systems to the allies of the US Army.
History of Redstone Arsenal:
Redstone Arsenal was established in 1941 after the US declared involvement in World War II. The acquisition of the government of the land, which was arranged with the Tennessee Valley Authority for the Army, saw the displacement of over 550 families from the area, although many of the landowners were allowed to rebuild their homes elsewhere. The farms and other properties were razed by the War Department in order to make room for the structures that will be built for war. The camp was named after the red rocks and soils that can be found in the area.
Originally, the military installation was composed of three separate arsenals: The Huntsville Depot (later rechristened as the Gulf Chemical Warfare Depot), the Huntsville Arsenal, and the Redstone Ordnance Plant. The main purpose of the base was to serve as a chemical weapons plant to support the chemical plant in Edgewood Maryland. While the Geneva Protocol banned the use of toxic gases in wars, the US signed it with the clause that the country will be able to wage chemical warfare if the aggressors used similar methods against them. As a result, Redstone Arsenal managed to produce various kinds of rockets, pyrotechnic devices, and chemical weapons such as mustard gas and phosgene.
The end of World War II made Redstone Arsenal practically redundant. From having over 4,000 people in its employ, the number of people working in the base was cut down to around 600. A large chunk of the property was leased to the local farmers and business owners. The rest of the property was on the verge of being sold when the government realized that it needed an area to test the products of the Armys missile program.
Scientists and engineers began arriving in Redstone Arsenal by late 1945. At the head of the team is Wernher von Braun, a German scientist. Most of the members of the team were also German, and they were tasked by the United States Army to conduct studies on new and effective rocket systems using components brought from Germany. This would later evolve as a missile and rocket program, and their initial efforts culminated in the development of the Redstone Missile, which was the first surface-to-surface missile of the US Army. Since then, Redstone Arsenal served a key role in the development of several missiles and rockets for the US army, and it became the home of the Ordnance Guided Missile Center (OGMC), headed by Maj. James Hamill (Wernher von Braum served as the technical director of the base). Aside from developing ballistic missiles, the missile and rocket program also broke into space exploration. The advancements in technology developed by Team Redstone allowed it to build a reputation for excellence, particularly when it comes to pioneering advancements in weaponry, as well as maintaining an outstanding work environment.
Facilities and services in Redstone Arsenal:
The facilities and services provided by Redstone Arsenal to the soldiers, civilian employees, and their residents include:
- Dining and recreation. Because the base also has provides housing for its soldiers and employees, there are also areas that are dedicated for their dining and recreation.
- Family services. Redstone Arsenal offers family services for their employees (both soldiers and civilians) as well as their families and the retirees, regardless of whether they live on or off post. There are also retiree services for those who have already left the military.
- Medical services. Medical services are provided for all members of Team Redstone and their families.
- Community services. Redstone Arsenal has outreach programs and other community services in order to give back to the community.
- Customer management services. As mentioned earlier, part of the mission of Redstone Arsenal is to provide excellent and high quality services and programs to the members of Team
Redstone. As such, it is the responsibility of the Customer Management Services to get feedback from the soldiers and their family members, the retirees, and the civilian employees who make up Team Redstone so that the base will be able to provide them with better services.
Redstone Arsenal today:
Redstone Arsenal has consistently received commendations and awards for Army Community of Excellence. It has won an award as the top medium sized post in the US in 1993. There are currently 157,223 soldiers in Redstone Arsenal, the number of which is composed of those who are in active duty, retired soldiers, and dependents, as well as 27,620 civilians who work in the base.