REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command focused on integrating Army space capabilities in many of its 2022 operations.
In February, the United States and Europe intervened to help Ukraine with air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, radars, and more following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
USASMDC provided support to U.S. European Command’s response to operations in Ukraine through its Force Tracking Mission Management Center and by providing space operations support to combatant commanders through its 1st Space Brigade.
“We have Army space experts over there who are helping enable those space capabilities for the maneuver commanders on the ground,” said Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, USASMDC commanding general. “Our space experts are doing everything from looking at what the bad guy’s satellites are doing to what our satellites are capable of doing, in terms of providing communications, GPS, as well as precision-guided weapons,” Karbler said. “We ensure Soldiers can shoot, move and communicate.”
In addition to on-going operations within each of the combatant commands, the Force Tracking Mission Management Center had a significant increase in operational requirements in 2022.
They distributed 16.5 million force tracking reports daily for 280,000 devices including support to U.S. Space Command for Human Space Flight Support; Air Combat Command and the Personnel Recovery mission; and U.S. Northern Command and defense support to civil authorities to manage resources during critical operations.
Between September and November, USASMDC’s 1st Space Brigade also led Army space efforts in Project Convergence 2022, joining United Kingdom and Australian service members, researchers and industry partners to experiment with and assess nearly 300 technologies, including long-range fires, unmanned aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles, and next-generation sensors while focusing on advancing joint and multinational interoperability in future operational environments.
The brigade filled a vital role in the event by demonstrating the concept of “close space support” in a tangible way to warfighters in the maneuver, special operations and cyber realms, said Col. Donald K. Brooks, 1st Space Brigade commander.
“We pride ourselves on being the Army’s sole deployable multi-component space brigade and take our responsibility very seriously to push the envelope on employing space effects at the tactical level,” Brooks said. “The future of Army space and the entire joint force is in good hands with all the young ‘space warriors’ who made history this month and will continue to shape the future of space.”
In August, USASMDC’s satellite communication mission, performed by the U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, officially transferred to the U.S. Space Force. This transfer marks the first time all Department of Defense military satellite communication functions have been consolidated under a single military service.
“This is a historic moment for the Department of Defense and military satellite communications as we bring all military SATCOM capabilities under one service for the first time ever,” Karbler said. “I know our SATCOM professionals will continue to provide world-class service and support while embodying the proud heritage of the Army SATCOM mission.”
The brigade comprising the 53rd Signal Battalion and the Satellite Communications Directorate transferred approximately 200 civilian and 300 military billets.
Also in August, at the 25th annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, Karbler announced that Army space had teamed up with U.S. Army Cyber Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command to create a triad that supports future multi-domain and full-spectrum operations and provides the joint force with an enhanced capability to see, sense, stimulate, strike, and assess across the spectrum.
“There is a great expectation that the first shots in combat are going to be fired with cyber or in space. It will greatly impact the outcome and impact the battlefield,” Karbler said.
He said the three organizations are natural integrators who all support multiple combatant commands.
“When you look again at what the triad brings as part of integrated deterrence – being able to affect the adversary’s calculus – the triad will impact that,” he added. “Our first step is integrating across joint and multiple combatant commands and with our allies and partners.”
Triad leaders said that they will be looking for opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities and integration during upcoming operations to show how when integrated, the triad enables effect no single component can deliver by itself.
“We have to normalize the triad in exercises,” Karbler said. “Education is a big part of it. We have to show up at exercises and make sure that the value-added of what the triad brings is recognized.”
In September, Army Astronaut Lt. Col. (Dr.) Frank Rubio launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, for a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
Rubio, one of 10 selected out of 18,300 applicants by NASA for the 2017 Astronaut Candidate class, is an active-duty Army physician and NASA astronaut.
“Lt. Col. Rubio represents a ‘human element’ to Army space capabilities, like so many of our SMDC Soldiers stationed around the world,” Karbler said. “He is a great representative of the Army’s role in space. To have that human presence in Earth orbit is only a small part of Army space capabilities.”
The Army astronaut detachment, though small in number, has an out-sized strategic impact as they represent Soldiers and the Army on the ultimate high ground, Karbler said.
“Army astronauts are more than astronauts,” Karbler said. “They represent the Army, serving as ambassadors to the public. NASA has long recognized the skills and leadership qualities of Army astronauts. I know Lt. Col. Rubio will make us proud and we look forward to all he will accomplish.”
In October, the command celebrated its 65th birthday.
USASMDC traces its heritage to the Redstone Anti-Missile Missile System Office, which was established by the Ordnance Corps, Oct. 3, 1957. The office was the first Army organization with a missile defense and space mission.
As in the past, the command’s missions have evolved to meet the needs of the nation and even today develops and provides current and future global space, missile defense and high-altitude capabilities to the Army, joint force and America’s allies and partners, to enable multi-domain combat effects; enhance deterrence, assurance, and detection of strategic attacks and protect the nation.
“We are the SMDC family and my time here is just a small window in the big history of the command and who knows what the next 65 years are going to bring,” Karbler said. “Whatever you do to support this command, it is an incredible privilege and honor for me to be able to serve you as your boss and I couldn’t do it without all of you. “