Every day is National Space Day for Army FA40s

By Jason Cutshaw, USASMDCMay 4, 2023

COL Andrew Morgan spacewalk
Back dropped by the rotating earth, U.S. Army and NASA Astronaut Col. Andrew Morgan pauses for a photo opportunity during extravehicular activity (EVA) #64 at the International Space Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer worksite Jan. 25, 2020. Col. Morgan and Italian Air Force and ESA astronaut Col. Luca Parmitano participated in this fourth and final EVA to complete repairs on the AMS, a state-of-the-art particle physics detector. The emblems displayed on Col. Morgan's cuff checklist are U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (top) and U.S. Space Command (bottom). (Photo by ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano) (Photo Credit: Ronald Bailey) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – For Army space operations officers, celebrating National Space Day recognizes how they live and work every day.

Functional Area 40 space operations officers across the Army celebrate National Astronaut Day and National Space Day, May 5, as their duties and responsibilities influence, shape, research and develop, and acquire space-related capabilities. Space operations officers perform these functions broadly, from tactical planning with Army brigades and divisions, to operational and strategic roles with corps, numbered armies and combatant commands.

Col. Todd A. Book, USASMDC chief of staff, served as an infantry officer before becoming an FA40 in 2008. He became interested in space because of the evolutionary change in the space domain as one being driven by only a few countries, to an environment driven by both governments and commercial industry across nearly every country on earth.

As an FA40, Book has served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York; Redstone Arsenal; and Afghanistan.

“Currently, I ensure the command staff is aligned and focused to support the SMDC commanding general and subordinate commanders in their execution of Army space and missile defense responsibilities,” Book said. “As an FA40, it allows me to help the land component commander leverage the space domain. It’s a job where you are constantly learning and adapting.”

Like Book, more than 620 FA40 space officers are integrated into operations and planning positions at all Army organizational levels, not just at USASMDC.

Lt. Col. Todd R. Habitzreuther, 1st Space Brigade S-3, a former chemical officer before becoming an FA40 in 2014, said space is interesting because of the limitless potential and applications across America’s diplomatic, informational, military and economic elements.

“Serving in a fast-paced, relevant and challenging mission across strategic, operational and tactical echelons that aggressively pursue and solve, instead of simply admiring, the hardest challenges and problems,” Habitzreuther said. “I admire and am humbled by the massive talent FA40s bring to the Army, joint force, the inter-agencies and congressional/legislative positions. We empower junior Soldiers and officers to tackle the hardest problems, and they do so with efficiency and flair. No other branch or functional area provides the multitude of opportunities to make strategic contributions the way Army space does.”

As an FA40, he has served with the 2nd Space Company; 1st Space Battalion; U.S. Special Operations Command; and J39-Special Activities Branch.

“I synchronize and establish shared understanding of the enterprise-wide space efforts the brigade conducts across a distributed command throughout the globe; focus and tailor support to best utilize competitive and limited space capabilities to meet current and emergent requirements,” Habitzreuther said. “I translate SMDC and the 1st Space Brigade commander’s vision and intent into tangible operations supporting deployments, exercises and combat readiness generation across the brigade’s mission areas.”

The FA40 community comprises officers from various Army branches, bringing their wide range of experience to make it a diverse and inclusive functional area. Although a technical degree is not a requirement, many FA40 assignments are technical in nature. More than 70 percent of FA40s have advanced degrees and work on senior-level Army, joint and interagency staffs.

With the Army being the largest Department of Defense user of space and satellite capabilities, its space operations officers utilize and integrate space capabilities with terrestrial-, air-, sea- and high-altitude-based systems owned and operated by DOD, the intelligence community, civil agencies and commercial partners to provide integrated and timely capabilities to the warfighter.

Lt. Col. Nicholas M. Holtz, Army NASA Detachment assistant program manager, who was a military police officer before becoming an FA40 in 2010, said he first became interested in space exploration on July 4, 1997, when Pathfinder landed on Mars.

“I was 13 and remember watching a news report about the landing, going outside and looking up at the night sky, finding Mars, and being in awe that humankind had literally just landed a rover on that distant red dot,” Holtz said. “Ever since, I’ve been inspired by the cutting-edge exploration and science that occurs constantly throughout the space domain and how it contributes to our understanding of our world and the universe, as well as the incredible technological benefits for us on Earth that assets in space can provide.”

As a space operations officer, he has served at 1st Space Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps in Kuwait, SpaceX in Los Angeles, the Pentagon, and at Johnson Space Center in Houston where the NASA Detachment is located.

Holtz said his goal at NASA is to identify skills and cultural aspects from NASA he can learn and bring back to the Army to help make the Army space enterprise better in every successive assignment he has.

“I truly love my job for so many reasons,” Holtz said. “Space is essential to our modern way of life. Access to and through space is critical to our nation’s interests as well as those of our allies and partners. There’s no such thing as a day without space operations.

“Assured access to space and space capabilities does not mean much if they can’t be effectively leveraged by those of us here on Earth,” he added. “Thanks to our understanding of multi-domain and joint operations, Army space operations officers are uniquely qualified to translate space-based capabilities into meaningful positive impact for Earth-based operations.”

Holtz said he cannot think of many career fields where one can contribute to the military, NASA, commercial, and multi-national space enterprise in such a wide range of meaningful roles. He added that being an Army space operations officer is not just one of the best jobs in the Army, but one of the best jobs there is.

“We are currently living in a golden age of space,” Holtz said. “The space domain is enabling previously unheard-of support to the commercial sector and our nation’s service members. Given the new need for intrinsically understanding and operating in multi-domain environments to deter our nation’s adversaries and accomplish the mission of the Army and the joint force, the demand for smart and capable Army space operations officers has never been higher.”