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The Space and Missile Defense School and the U.S. Military Academy offered the Army Space Cadre Basic Course to West Point and ROTC cadets to teach them the fundamentals of space capabilities, space systems and space organizations.

The students learned how to support space Soldiers who perform unique space tasks and gained an understanding of their future as Army leaders.

“For the most part the response was positive, with half of the attendees rating it as ‘awesome’ on their end of course surveys,” Lt. Col. Craig Boucher, director of the SMDC Space and High-Altitude Research Center at West Point, said. “It gives them a basis of understanding how space enables their operations at the tactical level and can serve as a springboard into the FA40 career field for those cadets who are interested.

“The course provides a basic knowledge of space capabilities and how they enable the warfighter. It also focuses on space capabilities, limitations and vulnerabilities in the context of full spectrum operations as well as military operations in an environment where space capabilities are degraded or contested.”

The Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering has been hosting this event since 2018, however, it was not given in 2020 due to COVID. Those who missed the 2020 course were able to complete it during the summer.

“The cadets really enjoyed having the instructors out here for the course, and it’s a great partnership between SMDC and USMA that we’d like to continue,” Boucher said. “Additionally, this was the first time we hosted and integrated ROTC cadets into the course and it was a huge success we would like to build on in the future.”

As the largest user of space assets in the Department of Defense, the Army requires space capabilities to exercise effective mission command and support combatant commanders.

The Army relies on space systems to provide rapid worldwide communication and coordination of friendly actions, develop situational awareness, gather information about adversaries, and enable a wide range of joint interdependencies to include direct downlink theater missile warning. To accomplish these tasks, the Army requires leaders and Soldiers trained to initiate and maintain access to space capabilities and who can mitigate attempts to deny, degrade and disrupt that access.

“I enjoyed the course. I found the information to be eye opening and very exciting,” West Point cadet Elijah Bellamy said. “I believe the information that I learned will help me as an Army officer by allowing me to better communicate the capabilities of the tools that we possess as an Army to my fellow warfighter.”

Bellamy said he would recommend the course to his classmates because the information was valuable and will be very beneficial to understand space as a warfighting domain.

“I had the unique opportunity after the class to travel to Japan and shadow the 1st Space Brigade and 53rd Signal Battalion for three weeks and was able to witness space control during Valiant Shield 22,” Bellamy said. “Seeing what we learned in the course in real life really brought a different level of realism to the information in the course.”

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