December 1, 2015 – The Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Commander, General John Hyten, as the Space Professional Functional Authority, directed implementation of a more robust Undergraduate Space Training Air Force Specialty Course and the transfer of space weapon system specific training responsibility to AFSPC by the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16). This transfer took place, as scheduled, on October 1, 2015.
At CORONA Top 2012, Air Force leadership recommended the split of the Space and Missile career field into the Space Operations career field and Missile Operations career field, which was approved by the Secretary of the Air Force on February 10, 2013. The CORONA findings identified the current length and instruction of Undergraduate Space Training as insufficient to satisfy the training requirements for today’s Contested, Degraded and Operationally Limited environment.
The new Undergraduate Space Training and transfer of responsibility for space weapon system specific training to AFSPC are the initial, foundational efforts under the larger scope of Space Training Transformation. Space Training Transformation implements CORONA Top 2012 and the Space Professional Functional Authority guidance to develop and implement a more robust Undergraduate Space Training for Officer and Enlisted Airmen.
The first enlisted and officer Undergraduate Space Training courses began in October 2015, with graduation expected in early February 2016. Once complete, graduates will be equipped with a more technical, in depth understanding of space systems and operational concepts not afforded in previous classes. The responsibility for unit-specific training transfers from AETC to AFSPC, and the realignment allows a more effective assessment of student abilities prior to assignment matching.
The requirement for increased depth and breadth of Initial Space Training was directed by General Hyten in order to ensure AF space professionals were more proficient in the operation of space systems, with the skills and knowledge needed to support the dynamic and evolving space mission. The increased length of the new curriculum boosts technical depth in advanced orbital mechanics, electromagnetic spectrum and signals, warfighter focus, and performance-based tasks and tests.
Initial Space Training was formerly composed of two courses: Undergraduate Space Training and Initial Qualification Training. With the transfer, Initial Qualification Training materials will be transferred to AFSPC space units to merge and align with corresponding weapon system unit level Mission Qualification Training.
The decision to realign Initial Qualification Training under AFSPC affords students the opportunity to receive training from experts in the Air Force Major Command responsible for conducting space missions every day. This realignment allows AFSPC to expedite their course change process and maintain more relevant training material, ensuring the most current and technically accurate information is presented.
Because most AF space weapon systems are unique, tied to individual units and have low throughput (similar to AF Global Strike’s B-2) this realignment makes more sense, since Air Education and Training Command specializes in high throughput, fundamentals courses.
Relocating Initial Qualification Training under AFSPC also incorporates a more practical method of training operators, by providing closer proximity of follow-on Mission Qualification Training, which benefits the students’ retention of information, and the unit’s ability to develop better space professionals. As part of the Initial Qualification Training realignment, 54 billets will transfer from AETC’s 533rd Training Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to multiple AFSPC wings. A limited number of personnel will physically move as a result of the transfer.
On February 12, 2015, the Under Secretary of the Air Force and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force signed Program Action Directive 14-01, which documents the Space Training Transformation effort. Building upon these changes to initial and qualification training, AFSPC is taking further steps to improve space Advanced Training as part of the separate Space Mission Force/Ready Force Program initiative.
Through this realignment of resources and organizational responsibilities, Space Training Transformation allows for rapid unit training content updates and enables the most cost-effective use of Air Force resources while increasing technical understanding of the space domain.