Space capabilities crucial to Army readiness

By Lira FryeAugust 20, 2018

34th Space Symposium
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- The Army's warfighting functions - mission command, movement and maneuver, fires, protection, intelligence, and sustainment - are all enhanced by incorporating space capabilities.

"Among the military forces, the Army is actually the largest user of space and space-enabled capabilities," U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Force's Strategic Command's top leader, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, said April 19 at the Space Symposium. "We rely on space to communicate, navigate and deliver precision fires."

With more than 2,500 devices dependent on positioning, navigation and timing, and more than 250 satellite communication-enabled devices in a typical Army brigade combat team, Dickinson said space capabilities, as well as the ability to operate when they are degraded, denied or disrupted are crucial.

"We don't achieve readiness without Army leaders and organizations that are trained and proficient on what space systems and forces provide to multi-domain operations," Dickinson said.

USASMDC/ARSTRAT organizations contribute to many of the Army and joint space-enabled capabilities for today's warfighter, as well as those required by the future force.

The Army's space force, SMDC's 1st Space Brigade, conducts continuous space support to operations in support of combatant commanders, enabling and shaping decisive operations. The brigade has elements stationed around the world, performing continuous 24/7/365 operations supporting critical missions.

"These professionals are the bridge, linking assured space capabilities to our warfighters," Dickinson said.

SMDC's Future Warfare Center designs, builds, modernizes, trains and educates the Army's space and missile defense forces. As the architect of the Army's future space force, the FWC creates and delivers training for the Army space cadre and other Soldiers and manages the space cadre.

Dickinson told participants that a current, high-demand training need across the Army is how to operate in a denied, degraded or disrupted space operational environment.

"Units generally lack awareness of contested space operational environment effects, or how to employ appropriate tactics, techniques, and procedures to mitigate these effects," he said.

Soldiers are now being trained to recognize when their space-enabled assets are being interfered with, and quickly adapt and sustain operations.

"The character of war has changed and continues to evolve," Dickinson said. "It is more lethal, more complex, and it includes an array of adversaries with greater access to new technologies."

The command's science and technology hub, the Technical Center, conducts research and development to support today's and tomorrow's warfighters with a diverse array of technologies. One such technology, the development of microsatellites, provides unique advantages for the warfighter.

"We envision a potential constellation of microsatellites providing integrated situational awareness and mission command capability down to the Soldier and squad level," Dickinson said. "We want our warfighters to have freedom to communicate and immediate access to critical and actionable situational awareness."

With the launch of the Kestrel Eye microsatellite in August, SMDC took a step toward achieving that vision. Designed to provide visible imaging capability directly taskable and responsive to the lowest echelons in the field and on the move, Kestrel Eye was activated in October and is now going through a series of operational checks before beginning its test plan.

Another small satellite development, the Army Resilient Global On-the-move SATCOM, or ARGOS, will demonstrate low cost, survivable, responsive and robust communications to BCT, expeditionary forces, and partner nations.

"Our rivals are increasingly challenging our dominance in all domains, pushing us toward new concepts with space as a key component," Dickinson said. "Our requirements for space-enabled capabilities will only increase, and space will be a huge component in multi-domain operations.

"We're doing the work today to increase our battlefield superiority in all capabilities and all domains," Dickinson said. "And we will ensure secure access to space for the U.S. Army, the joint force and our allies and partners."

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