Space Force has a plan to train its troops. Now he must figure out what they must learn to do

Unlike its sister land services, the Space Force cannot simply head to a land exercise area to train troops, develop new tactics, or look into the future of weapons. Space Force units also do not have a natural cycle of deployment and rebuilding that leaves time for advanced training. Thus, the service created two years ago creates a new concept of force generation and modeling and simulation environments, said a senior Space Force official.

“Whether it’s warning or missile accuracy, navigation, timing, military satellite communications, it all doesn’t stop. None of this stops, ”said Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, Deputy Chief of Space, Nuclear and Cyber ​​Operations for the Space Force, on Monday. “So how do I figure out how to organize and present forces where it retains some residual capacity to do advanced training?” “

The answer, Saltzman told a virtual audience at an event at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, is a new model of force generation that uses rotations to create time for Guardians to step away from immediate tasks. which has become more practically achievable now that the Force has reached 8,400 soldiers in active service, in August.

This model will also allow the Guardians to acquire essential practice for the first war in space.

“Our human capital was not designed for a contested environment,” Saltzman said.

Indeed, what must the Guardians be trained in? Much of this is about protecting satellites, either against decades-old threats like electromagnetic interference, or against newer weapons like lasers. You need to know what the satellite has on it and what the tradeoffs are if you move it around to dodge incoming fire, reposition it to a new orbit, or have another defensive tool on board.

“The ability to mitigate a directed energy threat, if you will, be it [radio frequency] energy, lasers, etc. – sometimes it’s a maneuver, sometimes it’s a repositioning, and sometimes it’s a subsystem operation on the satellite itself to try to mitigate those capabilities, ”Saltzman said.

Military officials have revealed very little about the types of defensive and offensive capabilities they wish to put on future spacecraft, other than maneuver capability. Part of that is because they don’t yet know which tactic will be the most effective given what they already have. There are, said Saltzman, “a number of tactics that we have currently developed and, I think we still have a lot to develop. A lot of times what we do is we maybe have a good idea, but since we haven’t tested it on any type of range ability, we haven’t tested against a thoughtful opponent, I don’t know. not whether that would be considered a tactic or a good idea at this point. And so, as we develop the modeling and simulation ability to really test our tactics, then we can rely more on the operators to use those tactics if they need to mitigate a problem. threatens.

Once this training environment exists, Guardians can begin training for future space battles. This, in turn, will allow Space Force leaders to determine what satellites need to survive space conflicts.

It’s very similar to how the Air Force determines what new capabilities it needs, Saltzman said. The cycle begins with a threat assessment of the intelligence community, examining how an adversary’s capabilities compare to what the United States has deployed.

“Once these vulnerabilities are identified, the weapons and tactics community goes through a process where they determine: are there tactics we can use to mitigate or close the gap? ” he said. “For any crew running these weapon systems, they’ll periodically find out, ‘hey, there’s no tactic that can really counter this ability. What we need is new hardware, a new pod or a new receiver. ‘ Then the weapons and tactics process documents this gap in terms of basic requirements. Then, these requirements are fed back through the acquisition community to start developing the hardware or software solution that operators need. And so it’s this cycle that we in the Air Force have called Weapons and Tactics, that informs the acquisition as well as the training community to prepare operators.

But the Space Force does not yet have that process in place, in part because it needs a training environment to test which tactics work and which need special new hardware or software. “We didn’t really consider this full cycle because we didn’t document the advanced training requirements. So that’s what I’m trying to do is then build that testing and training infrastructure that allows them to validate and the lineup infrastructure that will provide those capabilities and that feedback throughout. the loop, ”he said.

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Richard V. Johnson