Redstone Arsenal Complex Chronology, Part II: Nerve Center of Army Missilery, 1950-62 - Section B: The ABMA/AOMC Era, 1956-62
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was established at Redstone Arsenal on 1 February 1956. A Class II activity under the jurisdiction of the Chief of Ordnance, ABMA's existence began with a purely military mission: to field the Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. The Army satellite program, for which ABMA was best known, was executed under special orders and was not actually assigned as a mission of this agency.
On 31 March 1958, the Department of the Army (DA) created the Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) because of the increasing importance of missilery and the pressing need for exploiting resources to their maximum capability. It was the largest field organization within any of the Army's technical services. The command's subordinate elements included ABMA, Redstone Arsenal, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and White Sands Proving Ground. Another subordinate element of AOMC was the Army Rocket and Guided Missile Agency (ARGMA) created on 1 April 1958. Although not officially established until 1 June 1958, ARGMA assumed the technical missions formerly assigned to Redstone Arsenal.
The period between 31 January 1958 and 1 July 1960 was also the time during which the U.S. Army made its most notable contributions to the nation's outstandingly successful space effort. Foremost among the Army commands aiding the nation's space mission was ABMA. However, on 21 October 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the transfer of the Army agency's scientists and engineers to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). On 1 July 1960, AOMC formally lost all of its space related missions, along with about 4,000 civilian employees as well as $100 million worth of facilities and equipment.
As part of the subsequent reorganization of AOMC, both ABMA and ARGMA were abolished on 11 December 1961. Additional restructuring of the organization helped to smooth the transition from AOMC to the new command that was created at Redstone Arsenal as part of DA's 1962 reorganization. The U.S. Army Missile Command (MICOM) was established at Redstone on 23 May 1962 and activated on 1 August, at which time AOMC officially ceased to exist.
Section B of the second volume continues the Redstone Arsenal chronology for the period from 1956 to 1962. The various entries have been extracted from arsenal records from the 1956-62 time frame, newspapers of that period, personal recollections, and various other sources found in the Historical Division's archives. Many of the photographs included in this volume correspond to a particular event described in an entry. Others are representative of the various activities that occurred.
The period dating from January 1950 to August 1962 was a time of noteworthy achievement for the U.S. Army's rocket and missile programs. The pursuit of excellence that remains a hallmark of today's arsenal was firmly established during the years when Redstone became the nerve center of Army missilery.