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Joint Tactical Ground Station gets new training facility

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and Larry Burger, former director of the Future Warfare Center, unveil a memorial plaque during the Joint Tactical Ground Station Dr. Peter G. Pappas Training Facility dedication in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 6. (Photo Credit: Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and Larry Burger, former director of the Future Warfare Center, unveil a memorial plaque during the Joint Tactical Ground Station Dr. Peter G. Pappas Training Facility dedication in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 6. (Photo Credit: Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command gives remarks during the Joint Tactical Ground Station Dr. Peter G. Pappas Training Facility dedication in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 6. (Photo Credit: Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command gives remarks during the Joint Tactical Ground Station Dr. Peter G. Pappas Training Facility dedication in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 6. (Photo Credit: Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The new Joint Tactical Ground Station training facility was dedicated to the "Father of JTAGS" during a ceremony and open house here, April 6.

Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command gave remarks during the Joint Tactical Ground Station Dr. Peter G. Pappas Training Facility dedication.

Dickinson spoke about Pappas' legacy and his many contributions during his career. "One of the most impressive contributions that he made during his lifetime is his contributions to missile warning and the creation of JTAGS."

Dickinson said the Scud missiles used during the first Gulf War in 1991 provided the push to speed up development of infrared technology, which ultimately became JTAGS.

"These missiles used against U.S. forces in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, were the reason 27 Soldiers were killed and 98 wounded on Feb 26, 1991," said Dickinson. "Dr. Pappas had already been working on an early warning method, but this war accelerated the need to get missile warning into theater instead of at the strategic level where it had always been. This concept would lead to a system that provides warning to our Servicemen and women in a timely manner for them to take appropriate action to protect themselves.

"He envisioned having real-time stereo processing of ballistic missile early warning satellite data to create a more accurate picture of the theater ballistic missile warning threat that was starting to threaten deployed forces," Dickinson continued. "He also saw the distinct advantages of having a missile warning system in theater versus having it in the United States."

With Pappas leadership, his team successfully demonstrated operational surveillance using satellite resources to detect tactical missile launches. This success resulted in a joint Army and Navy program to develop and deploy a tactical unit, which is known today as JTAGS.

This system has successfully served the nation and the Warfighter since 1997, which marks this year as the 20th anniversary of this system. While the system continues to receive upgrades as technology improves, the main premise upon which it was created remains essentially the same and that is to provide effective early warning to our Warfighters on the ground in order to save lives.

Dickson said the JTAGS system is deployed to four locations around the globe providing theater missile warning to American forces, allies and partners.

"I understand that unofficially we have trained the 100th class of JTAGS students and that we have trained over 1,000 Soldiers since the inception of the class. These Soldiers complete their training here and proceed to their next assignment to one of the four operational JTAGS locations stationed around the world in Germany, Korea, Japan and Qatar. When you stop and think about the magnitude of the task of providing missile warning to thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, our allied forces and partners, civilians and families, it is quite an impressive accomplishment by Dr. Pappas."

In summary, Dickinson said, "While we do not know the exact number of lives that have been saved because of the technology…we do know it has made a tremendous difference for the Servicemembers and their families. While I know that Dr. Pappas had a Doctorate in Laser Physics and was not a medical doctor, he did share a common achievement … he saved many lives through his intellect, perseverance and selfless service to a grateful nation."

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