In the 21st century, Army leaders are well-aware what once was science fiction is now an everyday fact of modern-day combat.
The Association of the U.S. Army’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter hosted a fireside chat Thursday with a panel of leaders from the Department of the Army and Space and Missile Defense Command.
The chapter hosted the fireside chat as part of its annual Space and the Network Symposium to discuss the military space domain and its vital role in the national defense strategy.
“Winning first in space really matters and we understand that here at SMDC,” Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, SMDC commander, said. “SMDC is really a cross-functional command. If you look at what we’re doing with space and missile defense and with the network, not a week goes by that we are not talking about how space integration touches different organizations across different elements.”
Speaking next was Richard DeFatta, director, Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, who talked about executing his mission in four different areas: capability development, capability integration, training and doctrine, and personnel development.
“Army space personnel are in high demand right now,” DeFatta said. “We went from people who know what happens in space to people who are integrating into tactical formations. These are Soldiers who actually plan how to use space and space capabilities and support our tactical warfighters.
“We are transforming our capabilities from a strategic, direct-support of organizations like U.S. Space Command to the tactical Army itself. As capabilities like space, intelligence and cyber become more and more important to a tactical commander, we have to transform our formations and our personnel.”
Thomas Webber, director, SMDC Technical Center, discussed the critical dependency the Army has on space and space enabled capabilities for executing ground combat operations and the ability to provide those capabilities to the Army as well as the joint force.
“We are trying to evolve our capabilities into the future to provide the best capabilities to the warfighter,” Webber said. “We, in the Tech Center, are developing technologies to really get after better enabling ground combat operations for the Army. Space and space-enabled capabilities are going to enable and enhance virtually every modernization priority the Army is working on right now and we are happy to be a part of it.
“The technologies we are working are very exciting and we are going to deliver them to the forward edge at unprecedented speed. It is really all about how quickly we can get information to the warfighter and how valuable that information can be.”
Underscoring SMDC’s efforts to provide space capabilities to the warfighter, Col. Brian Bolio, SMDC’s 1st Space Brigade commander, explained how the brigade conducts space operations to deliver decisive combat power in support of the Army and joint warfighting communities. He added that the brigade supports joint forces and their critical dependence on space capabilities and products.
“With the advantage between us and our near-peer competitors closing and with an increased reliance on space-based capabilities to essentially shoot, move and communicate with tactical precision, we can’t wait until we are contested in every domain to seize the high-ground in space,” Bolio said. “Army Soldiers are what give us the edge against an enemy in large-scale ground combat operations and that is really no difference with space capabilities. 1st Space Brigade warriors are what will help ensure the joint force can deploy space capabilities across all domains.”
Col. Stephen Parrish, Army Satellite Operations Brigade commander, talked about how the brigade consolidates all assigned SATCOM missions under a major subordinate element to align for efficient command and control up to the joint force commander level to include U.S. Space Command through the Combined Forces Space Component Command, the operational supported commander for space.
“We are the only satellite operations brigade in the Army,” Parrish said. “We provide wide-band and narrow-band communications for all the services, agencies and departments across the Department of Defense and the government, as well as international partners. The experts within my brigade have a minimum of 22 months of experience in operating satellite payloads.”
For the Army’s leadership perspective, Col. Jason Kalainoff, Department of the Army G-3/5/7 Space Division chief, gave an overview of how they view SMDC’s efforts to maintain the nation’s technological edge in space.
“During the 12 years I have served as an Army space operations officer, the last couple of years have been truly exceptional,” Kalainoff said, “As the Army continues to enable the forces that we operate on the ground through space-enabled capabilities, we have seen our competitors increasingly develop ways to hold those capabilities at risk.
“When you look at the number of systems and personnel that depend on space, the Army is clearly the DOD’s number one user of space-enabled capabilities. What goes on in the space domain is really critical for the Army. In the Army, senior leaders really understand this as they have said many times, ‘space begins and ends on the ground.’ That is where wars are fought and won. Leaders recognize the importance of space is that key element in multi-domain operations.”
Following the panel members remarks, the group answered questions from attendees and Karbler made his closing comments.
“These panel members are the foremost experts in Army space from the operational side, up in the Pentagon, combat developments, and technologies so I am really blessed here at SMDC to be surrounded by all of this space expertise,” Karbler said.