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US Space Force evolves its training focus

12th May 2021 - 09:00 GMT | by Dr Joetey Attariwala in Canada


USSF trainees assigned to the 320th Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. (Photo: USAF)

As it expands, the US Space Force needs to address specific training requirements.

The US Space Force (USSF) is seeking to develop a space range to test, train on and evaluate orbital assets.

Speaking to Shephard, Col Peter Flores, commander of Space Training and Readiness Delta (Provisional) (STAR Delta (P)), explained: ‘A space range is really a transitory thing, that for some amount of time, from point A to point B, we will be using a volume of space for some specific activity; and when we’re not using it, it’s just space.'

He added: 'There’s always a balance between what needs to happen live and what needs to happen in a simulated environment, but some things you really do need to evaluate in that live environment, so that’s where that kind of range will come into play. We’ll start off small and we expect to grow as part of a broader infrastructure.’

STAR Delta (P) functions as the precursor organisation to the planned Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) – one of three enduring field commands designated under the USSF (the other two being Space Operations Command and Space Systems Command).

STARCOM, or some variation thereof, is anticipated to activate in 2021; however, this requires basing action to designate its permanent location.

One of the tactical exercises held under the auspices of STAR Delta (P) is called Space Flag. The exercise began in 2017 under AFSPC and is modelled after the USAF Red Flag exercises, but is set in the orbital domain. Held over a two-week period, the exercise allows guardians to learn how to engage against adversaries in potential future conflicts.

‘We’re looking for opportunities for how to expand the exercise, to make it larger, make it more complex and more realistic, so those are all opportunities that are out there. There are considerations of whether we should have a brick-and-mortar DoD-led facility and/or capability. These are all the things that STAR Delta and STARCOM are exploring to figure out how we stay ahead of the need,’ Flores noted.

USSF training is still clearly a work in progress as the force works up to full capacity and stands up its component commands. Nonetheless, the organisation’s very existence, along with equivalents emerging elsewhere such as the UK RAF’s planned Space Command, underline the importance of the domain for military planners. Training, as ever, will be key to mission success and there will doubtless be ample opportunity for industry participation and innovation as USSF requirements and doctrines evolve.

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