Written by Elizabeth Keister
Photo by Steve Babin
Brigadier General Dan Montgomery has dedicated his career to the United States Military since 1967. He served his country in the Army for thirty-two years and continues to support U.S. forces, post-retirement. After being appointed the Lead Executive in the Huntsville area, General Montgomery supports both the Veteran and Active Duty Military community with Northrop Grumman. Additionally he built a business run by service-disabled veterans who strive to provide value-added technical and security services to the government and industry customers.
EVENT: What brought you to Huntsville?
DM: The Army brought me, in 1992. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas and had planned to retire, but was selected to be the Program Manager for the Air Defense Command and Control System. I made the decision to do one more assignment.
I was then selected for promotion to Brigadier General and assigned as the PEO Air and Missile Defense. Fortunately, that job was in Huntsville so I got to stay right here.
EVENT: How did your involvement in the military begin?
DM: While in college, I signed up for ROTC. I did not have a profession I wanted to pursue, so thought two years in the Army would be a good way to get some experience and decide what I wanted to do. Well...two years turned into 32 years. So, you might say I stumbled into my career decision, but it was the best stumble I could possibly have had!
EVENT: To what areas have you been deployed?
DM: I started my military career in 1967, so Vietnam was very much at the forefront of every soldier’s thoughts and assignments. However, my first assignment was to Homestead, Florida. I thought, man if this is the Army; give me 30 years!! But, my next assignment was Vietnam. Other assignments included Fort Bliss, Korea, Germany, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Gordon, The Pentagon and finally Redstone Arsenal.
EVENT: What does the Lead Executive for Huntsville Operations with Northrop Grumman entail?
DM: Northrop Grumman is located all over the nation and all over the world, for that matter. In many locations, there are multiple NG business sectors in the same location. So, in 2004 the CEO decided to assign responsibility to one person in a geographical area to be the central point of contact to all customers and the community where the company operates, titled the Corporate Lead Executive (CLE). He/she would be responsible for pulling the various operating units together to be more efficient and to serve as the face to customers and the community. I was given this title in Huntsville from 2005 through 2009.
EVENT: What does your involvement with the military, post-retirement look like?
DM: I stay involved through organizations like AUSA, through the work I do in the Defense Industry and through friends still on Active Duty. My wife Phyllis does more than I do through her volunteer work. She stays active with the retired wives community and is one of the officers in Wreaths for Veterans here in Huntsville.
Your best and longest lasting friends are your old Army buddies. We get together often with our retired Army friends and keep in close contact.
EVENT: How was your transition from the Military to the civilian life?
DM: My transition was much easier than most because I became involved with the Defense Industry after military retirement. I quickly learned that Active Duty Military does not have a corner on the market when it comes to hard work, dedication and patriotism. The Defense Industry workforce has that same dedication, patriotism and work ethic.
EVENT: In what ways have you helped the military and contractors whom are deployed in hostile areas?
DM: I recall when we were struggling to develop and field the THAAD system, sending a note to all the men and women working on the program. I wanted to communicate to them that someday they would be sitting in their homes watching a news program broadcast THAAD missiles intercepting enemy targets, saving the lives our soldiers and allies. Today, my company supports the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar program in Afghanistan, helping to protect deployed soldiers and civilians.
EVENT: As the co-founder of Strategic Defense Solutions, what is your main goal within the defense sector?
DM: When we started, one of our main goals was to win contracts that would provide jobs for veterans. We have accomplished this task and now we foster both professional and personal growth within our team. Our principal contract is C-RAM and it requires people with experience in a combat zone. So, as it turns out, about 75% of our company is composed of are veterans.
EVENT: What does your community involvement consist of?
DM: When I was CLE at Northrop Grumman, I served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and on the boards of many other non-profit organizations. I participated in both the Huntsville/Madison County and Alabama Leadership programs, which are both excellent programs. I still serve on the Heart of the Valley YMCA Board and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Foundation Board. I really believe in and support what the YMCA stands for in putting Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all and their support for Military families. The USSRC is a national treasure and it is right here in Huntsville. It does so much, not the least of which is preserving history, while also educating and inspiring our children.