September 29, 2016 – Space, as a global commons, is vital to commerce and is an essential element of global stability and joint warfare. Space is no longer a sanctuary where the United States or our allies and partners operate in an uncontested environment.
Despite world interest in avoiding militarization of space, potential adversaries have identified the use of space as an advantage for U.S. military forces, and are actively fielding systems to deny our use of space in a conflict.
Peterson Air Force Base, along with the other space wings located around the globe, are scheduled to execute a new widespread operational and training approach in handling unavoidable threats to our space capabilities and our national defense. The new training will be referred to as the Space Mission Force.
“Space Mission Force (is) a new advanced training and force presentation model that prepares our space forces to meet the challenges of today’s space domain, while ensuring we continue to provide vital space capabilities for the Joint Force now and in the future,” said Gen. John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander.
Air Force Space Command has a long history of providing space capabilities vital to the defense of our nation. However, Gen. Hyten said the training and skills which sustained our space operations for the last several decades are not the same skills needed to fight through threats and win in today’s contested, degraded and operationally‐limited environment.
“SMF allows us to retool our operations and training, which historically have centered around activities in a rather benign space environment. We aim to grow advanced training and new training concepts that are based on real-world, threat-based intelligence,” said Lt Col Marc Brock, 21st Operations Group deputy commander.
This transformation to training applies to all AFSPC units and the entire Space Mission Enterprise, Hyten has said. It includes every operator, mission support professional, intelligence professional, headquarters staff member and acquisition professional supporting Air Force space operations.
SMF can be broken down into two constructs: training and force presentation.
The training, also known as the Ready Spacecrew Program, includes continuation training and advanced training. It leverages the Weapons and Tactics process to continuously develop, test and train innovative warfighting tactics, techniques and procedures.
Force presentation, also known as Space Mission Task Force, is the element of SMF presented to the Commander of United States Strategic Command by the Air Force for operational use. It acknowledges most space forces perform operations from in garrison. These forces includes space operators, mission planning personnel, intelligence professionals, space weapon systems and other necessary equipment and support.
The 4th Space Control Squadron at Peterson AFB already initiated their SMF cycle early this year, Lt Col Brock said. 21st Space Wing ground-based radar squadrons, at geographically-separated locations around the globe, will also implement SMF in October 2017 after garnering lessons learned from the SMF Pilot Program at the 7th Space Warning Squadron, scheduled to start in October 2016.
With the new SMF program pushing forward, the focus of why there is a need for it should always be reset back to how having a good offense comes from having a good defense.
“SMF is a key enabler when you talk about defending the homeland,” said Brock. “We have missile warning radars strategically located around the perimeter of the United States and Canada and their primary job is to defend our homeland and this construct will only make us better at that responsibility as we also look to better secure the space domain.”