HUNTSVILLE – At Thursday’s Redstone Update, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mohan began his address with a most pressing message.
“This weekend, the Black Knights are preparing to dominate the Navy Midshipmen on the football field, so I would like everyone to join me – Go Army!” he said, as the packed South Hall room of more than 500 than obeyed his “command.”
“Beat Navy!” he then said, leading a chorus of whoops and catcalls.
One lone Navy hand was raised, when asked.
“If you’re not careful, I’ll tell everyone to pull for Georgia,” Mohan said to laughter.
Mohan was the keynote speaker at the annual luncheon, hosted by the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber at the Von Braun Center. Mohan is senior mission commander at Redstone Arsenal and deputy commanding general of the Army Materiel Command.
As “the new kid on the block”, Mohan discussed three things he knows about the Huntsville community.
“First and foremost, it supports its military and veteran workforce with one of the nation’s largest Veterans Day Parades, active Armed Forces Week, Military Appreciation Nights and a spectacular Veterans Memorial that not only honors our veterans, but our first responders and Gold Star families,” he said. “A lot of communities talk about supporting its military but the Tennessee Valley walks the walk.”
Mohan thanked elected officials for helping the Arsenal grow and flourish with assistance on roads, gates and housing. He said these things keep the community linked and integrated.
“Unlike other installations, Redstone Arsenal isn’t located on the back 40, or backside of the community,” he said. “It sits right in the middle, connected to everything that goes on in this community. As we have grown, so too has the Tennessee Valley.”
The second that makes Huntsville special is that it reaches for the stars.
“And I am talking literally,” Mohan said. “When the Tennessee Valley sets its sights on a goal, there is nothing that can stop us from achieving what we are after.”
Pointing to the recent launch of Artemis I, he pointed out that the Marshall Space Flight Center, along with industry partners, is a key reason for the success of that mission.
“Back here on land, the dedicated workforce and the Rapid Capabilities and Criminal Technologies Office at Redstone continues to enable the army to experiment, evolve and deliver technologies in real time to address both urgent and emerging threats …,” he said. “That’s a powerful mission and … we recently got the win to put the first hypersonic weapons in the hands of soldiers. That is a tremendous accomplishment in a short period of time.”
He pointed to the Army Materiel Command leading efforts to modernize the nation’s industrial base to ensure depots, arsenals and demo plants sustain the Army and are ready to meet the demands of the future. Mohan stressed the importance of a strong and nimble industrial base focused on modernizing the Army and ensuring the military meets the challenges of the future. He saluted the extraordinary growth of the FBI and the entirety of Redstone’s work in support of the Army to solve the aviation and missile challenges the nation faces.
Thirdly, he pointed to Huntsville’s incredibly bright future.
“The potential for Redstone is extraordinary from the work we do every day, to the people who make up this team of teams,” he said. “While we wait for a decision from the Secretary of the Air Force to learn whether we will soon be home to the U.S. Space Command, we will continue to evolve as a federal center of excellence with our diverse and synergistic missions involving space, research, and intelligence operations.”
He laid out his four priorities to continuing on the current path to success.
One is the building of a 21th century workforce, tied directly to Huntsville’s ability to recruit a talented workforce, particularly in STEM fields. He credited the new Alabama School of Cyber Technology & Engineering as setting the gold standard for the nation in attracting and retaining a talented workforce.
He also plans to utilize lessons from the COVID pandemic to evaluate what a return to the workforce looks like.
“COVID is not going away, so we have to learn to live with it and live with it we will,” he said.
Thirdly, Mohan said he will take a synergistic approach to growth, not just growing for the sake of growth but growing in areas that make sense for Redstone’s strengths.
This includes extending its focus on the FBI’s growth here; working with the Army Futures Command and the Space and Missile Defense Command on building a military laboratory; Army modernization; hypersonics; and directed energy.
“We recently welcomed our first Space Force components to Redstone on the condition of the Space Development Agency, focused on the rapid advancement of space capabilities supporting the warfighter with innovation satellite technologies,” he said. “We are also nearing completion of a 60,000 square-foot hangar facility at the Redstone airfield, and the list goes on and on and on.”
Mohan plans to focus on quality of life, noting that Redstone’s Army Housing program was rated No. 1 in the 2022 Annual Housing Survey, out of 381 installations, getting cheers from the audience.
“Leading in everything from energy resilience to upgraded recreational facilities and a new food and beverage center coming in 2023,” he said.
“In closing, it is my responsibility to ensure the safety and security of every person that comes on Redstone Arsenal, and it is my number one priority, working closely with the local community integrating resources and capabilities that provide security to tenants, their workforce, equipment, and our missions to ensure prevention, mitigation and rapid response systems.”