June 13, 2019 – A year after former Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson, announced her initiative for an increased coalition partner participation in space education, the National Security Space Institute graduated its first Space 300 class with international space operators, May 10, 2019.
Four students from Australia, and three from the United Kingdom, joined U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy service members for the capstone course designed to develop senior officer and enlisted space professionals as strategic thinkers for an international geopolitical environment and increase understanding of national space policy.
“Having international students in our classroom from diverse backgrounds is a remarkable opportunity,” said Lt. Col. Paul Hunke, Space 300 course director. “These operators are able to sit in a room with other space professionals, talk about space for three weeks and learn from each other’s different perspectives.”
While the NSSI has hosted many international students in Space 200, the SECAF set in motion an increase in collaborative education through coalition partnerships at the 2018 Space Symposium.
“We need to approach space training with the same regard to enable our allies and partners to fight alongside our Airmen as a coalition in the space domain,” said Wilson, who recently retired from her position in May 2019.
The NSSI spent the next year developing a new version of Space 300 that is both releasable and valuable to all participating nations, as well as invited Allied partners to share their various perspectives during course development.
One of those Allied partners, Wing Commander Stuart “Clarry” Briese, Royal Australian Air Force liaison officer at Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, not only shared vital information during course development, but attended as a student in the course as well.
“I’ve previously attended the fundamental and intermediate-level courses,” said Briese. “But this course [Space 300] was more challenging and focused on high-level, strategic education with facilitated discussions among students with a variety of specialties.”
U.S. Air Force Maj. Shaun “Phargo” Phipps said he was privileged to take part in this seminar-style academic environment with international partners because he works on a daily basis with coalition partners as the chief of operations in the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
“We currently operate, exercise and war game with our Allied space partners,” said Phipps. “It only makes sense that we should also share in our education as space professionals. The course provided an environment to allow the exchange of ideas and solutions to difficult problems currently facing our national leadership today. As the threats in the space domain continue to evolve, it will be vital as space professionals to understand our Allies’ national perspectives as they pertain to space in order to assure our freedom of action in the space domain.”
NSSI Commandant Col. Max Lantz looks forward to expanding the course to more coalition partners in the near future.
“We have learned that including our international partners significantly enhances the students’ discussions and provides great insight into the perspectives from other nations.”
Meanwhile, Briese said his peers are anxiously awaiting their turn to attend Space 300 in Colorado Springs. He said, “I am already getting emails from Australia asking when the next course is.”