REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- For Soldiers looking to take their career to the ultimate height -- literally -- the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command oversees Functional Area 40, or FA40, the space operations officer and Army space cadre development and management selection for Soldiers looking to transition to a career in space.
"FA40 officers serve in operating and generating force positions supporting the Army and unified action partners that focus on delivering space capabilities to the warfighter today, as well as developing and integrating space capabilities for the future," said Mike Connolly, director, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Army Space Personnel Development Office, or ASPDO.
Soldiers are selected for the FA40 after a competitive selection process through the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program, or VTIP, which can occur at the four-year mark of a Soldier's career. Besides their technical abilities, Soldiers applying for the FA40 are also evaluated based on their values and leadership capabilities.
Once designated, FA40 officers attend the Space Operations Officer Qualification Course that includes the National Security Space Institute, the Space 200 course, and seven weeks of Army-focused space training provided by the SMDC Directorate of Training and Doctrine.
"These courses, 11 weeks in total, are the foundation for FA40 education," said Robert C. Hoffman, chief of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense School Space Training Division. "This is the course that takes Army officers from their basic branch and teaches them the fundamentals or the 'science' of Space Operations."
Higher-level courses and seminars are also required as the officer progresses, and officers can also attend other training based on the specific requirements of the billet they are being assigned against. These courses include, but are not limited to, the Special Technical Operations course, Tactical Space Operations Course, Space Control Training, Joint Tactical Ground Station or Advanced Space Operations School courses.
While FA40 officers originally comprised the space cadre, the program expanded in 2007 to include other military occupational specialties and areas of concentration, as well as Department of the Army Civilians who perform duties in one of the five space mission categories.
Connolly emphasized the importance of the growing Army space cadre. "Our Army has an unrelenting dependence on space capabilities to execute unified land operations in support of the combatant commander's objectives," he said. "The Army is one of the largest users of space and is also a provider of space-based capabilities. Accordingly, the Army needs Soldiers and civilians who understand the space mission areas and how space is integrated with other warfighting capabilities.
"The Army space cadre is an untapped resource within organizations; with the space domain being a contested environment, the importance of space-enabled capabilities and the Army space cadre will continue to grow," Connolly said.
Connolly added that every day, millions of Americans swipe credit cards for everything from bank transactions to gas purchases to renting movies, never realizing that each of those swipes relies on a space-based capability for success.
"In our society, space has become so normalized, that most are no longer paying attention," he said. "However, as military and civilian leadership are increasingly exposed to the capabilities being provided to our national defense through and from space, the requirement to fully understand and employ offensive and defensive measures will only expand.
"In the Army, FA40s will serve as the core of a cadre appropriately trained and educated to meet these challenges, but they will not be alone," Connolly added. "Department of the Army civilians and other Soldiers will share the burden and to ensure success, their development and training must be a priority."