02 Apr Profiles in Space – From officer to contractor, Jeff Douds, 1st Space Brigade
Aside from the 2,800 plus military personnel and civilians working in U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, there are also dozens of military contractors providing critical services in everything from operations to public affairs.
One of these contractors is Jeff Douds. Douds has worked as a contractor (currently with Apogee Engineering, LLC) supporting the 1st Space Brigade plans and operations office (S-3) for the past three-and-a-half years. He retired from the Army in 2017 as a lieutenant colonel.
His 26-year career in the Army began as an enlisted Soldier serving at Fort Carson from 1987 to 1989. While an enlisted Soldier, he applied for, and earned a Green-to-Gold scholarship to attend the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS). He graduated from UCCS in 1993 (along with Col Eric Little) with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in mathematics. He became an FA-40, Space Operations Officer, in 2004 and served in multiple FA-40 jobs throughout the Army and SMDC to include SMDC Strategy and Policy (G-3), a joint assignment at the National Security Space Office (NSSO), the Space Support Element (SSE) chief for both the 25th Infantry Division and 2nd ID, and a certifications and evaluations branch chief at SMDC Training, Readiness, and Exercises (G-37).
I recently had the opportunity to speak with him about his beginnings, his career, his time in the Army and SMDC, as well as his family, hobbies and passions in life.
Q: Where are you from and what was your childhood like?
A: I was born in Illinois, but we moved around a lot and by the time I got to the fourth grade we were in Charleston, West Virginia, which is what I consider to be my hometown. I’m from a family of five children. My dad was in the Army – both enlisted and officer – and he served in the Korean War. Like me, after his enlisted time, he attended college (at West Virginia University, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics) and then served in the Army again. He chose the Army Reserves, however, and was a company commander in the Special Forces before deciding to transition full-time to the civilian world.
Q: What were some of the highlights of your career?
A: I think it is unique that I was a member of both the first and last Space Support Element (SSE) deployed to Iraq. In 2005, while I was assigned to SMDC in the G-3 Strategy and Policy Division, the need arose for a backfill for the 3rd ID SSE which was then deployed to Camp Victory, Iraq. I had not served in Iraq yet, since I was in graduate school at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) from 2002 to 2004, so I was at or near the top of the list to deploy.
I served on the 3rd ID SSE for the tail-end of their deployment (August to December 2005) as an individual augmentee and then returned to my assignment at SMDC. I served as the SSE chief for the 25th ID from 2010 to 2013, serving almost the entirety of 2011 once again at Camp Victory, Iraq, under Operation New Dawn.
Q: How did you fall into SMDC?
A: When I was in Germany finishing my company command I had the opportunity to apply to single-track on a functional area to no longer serve under my basic branch. I enjoy the technical/scientific aspect of things so I looked for something along those lines. FA-40, Space Operations, seemed like a perfect fit. I applied and was accepted. To make it even better, I was able to kick off the process with two years at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where I earned a master’s degree in space systems operations. My first assignment after NPS was with SMDC.
Q: What are your top three passions in life?
A: Quality time with family and friends; exercising and being outdoors. I used to very much enjoy running but injuries have taken that away from me now, but I still enjoy bicycling and hiking, and continual learning. I like to read, play chess, and do things that keep my mind active.
Q: Who is your immediate family composed of?
A: My wife, Solly, and two daughters, Tachiana and Ashley who are 26 and 21 years old.
Q: What is it about Army Space that is interesting to you?
A: I like being in an ever-evolving field. It was nice that I was able to retire from the Army, but still be very involved in Army Space. The nation has extraordinary capabilities that arise from the use of space assets, but the aspect of Army space that I enjoy is playing a part in getting these capabilities into the hands of the warfighter at the lower levels, as well as making sure our Soldiers are aware of the vulnerabilities associated with the use of space assets and can take appropriate actions to counter the vulnerability.
One thing is clear, once a space space warrior, always a space warrior.