Redstone Arsenal, together with a cadre of adjoining private sector support contractors, is the Army's most capable weapon system development center for missiles and helicopters. It encompasses cradle-to-grave capabilities ranging from: futuristic applicable science, research, and technology; technical, cost, and schedule assessments supporting future weapons requirements definitions; system development, production, and fielding; to logistics support and evolutionary upgrades. This is done by the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC), Program Executive Offices, Project Offices, and Testing and Logistics Centers.
The arsenal features state-of the-art office buildings and laboratories and outdoor test ranges. Less than a mile north is Cummings Research Park, a large complex of modern contractor facilities, the second largest research park in the United States (after Research Triangle Park in NC).
Adjacent to the Research Park is the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and five miles to the northeast is Alabama A&M University, both with highly accredited engineering and technology programs. Redstone uses the capabilities of these schools and others nearby like Georgia Tech, Auburn, and Mississippi State to provide inexpensive technical support and recruit new civil service employees.
As important as the development and fielding of the many missile systems has been, of equal importance is the evolution of technology and technical capabilities that enable each generation of missiles to significantly outperform earlier systems. This is because the AMRDEC and SMDC have stayed abreast of technology advances and have been directly involved in developing futuristic science and technology programs, in many cases working directly with nearby universities. Their engineers are also involved directly with Program Offices, providing engineering support much like the engineering staffs of private industry matrix organizations.
Recognizing the many advantages of the Huntsville/Redstone community, the Army moved the Aviation Command to Huntsville in 1997.
Finally, because of proximity, Redstone engineers and program managers can maintain close relationships with the user community at Fort Benning, GA., and Fort Rucker, AL., as well as U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) at Fort McPherson, GA. Both the AMRDEC and SMDC are closely tied to the air defense community at Fort Bliss, TX and the Field Artillery community at Fort Sill, OK. As a result, Redstone engineers can play an essential and meaningful role in informing users about evolving technology and resulting capabilities. They can also provide necessary inputs on anticipated performance, cost, and schedule; basic to the generation of meaningful requirements documents.
Thus, over the years Redstone has evolved into the most productive integrated cradle-to-grave missile and helicopter development facility. It is supported by a highly skilled and knowledgeable work force; consisting of government and private sector people, both on and off of the Arsenal.
By having all functions in effect co-located, interactive efficiency is maximized. Engineers from AMRDEC, SMDC, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA-MSFC, tenant on Redstone), the nearby universities, and companies in Research Park can be quickly accessed by program/project managers; either as short-term consultants or for long-term matrix support.
Local governments, the staff of Alabama, and the entire TN Valley region are pro-military and very enthusiastically in support of our troops. The Alabama Air and Army National Guard constitute the third largest National Guard in the nation. A uniform here is a badge of honor.
This support, together with easy access to pleasant surroundings including mountains, lakes, and open fields, a moderate climate, all kinds of indoor and outdoor activities, the low cost of living, and no urban sprawl, eases the recruiting of top-notch people by government and local support contractors.