Air Force officials are looking to shift to a warfighting operational mindset in the space domain with the opening of a new coalition center to test capabilities and aggressively pursue simulation opportunities for mission training.
Leadership for Air Force Space Command want to move away from viewing space solely as a support unit to better prepare for the possibility of deterring adversaries in future space warfighting operations, according to Maj. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the command’s director of integrated air, space, cyberspace and ISR operations.
“Our space force today, in the United States Air Force, we are able to message. We are able to deter. And we’re also able to defend and, if need be, prevail in a space conflict,” Guastella said at a March 2 Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event. “We’re using examples from warfighting in the air domain, and we’re bringing it to space. It’s real, it’s happening. That’s something that we’re very excited about.”
Air Force Space Command will open a capability and intelligence forum, the Coalition Space Operation Center (CSPOC), later this summer at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to Guastella.
CSPOC aims to gather Air Force officials, allies and industry partners to improve information sharing needed to make the move from focusing on operation of sensors non-maneuvering, benign space objects to implementing a weapons control mindset in space, according to Guastella.
Allies will be brought on to the CSPOC initiative to ensure that future capabilities are interoperable.
Guastella also wants to see Air Force Space Command continue aggressively pursuing simulators needed to train his forces for space warfighting operations.
“We have money laid in from last year’s budget and this year’s budget to get after providing balanced simulation, so our space operators can operate in a training environment that simulates a contested one. This is just like we’re doing in the air side,” Guastella said.
Potential simulators would move beyond training for benign space environments to a focus on linking virtual training environments with other Air Force components to improve synchronization of warfighting operations.
Air Force Space Command will also hold another “Space Flag” training event in April, which uses a virtual training environment similar to airmen’s aerial combat exercises, Red Flag.
Guastella also said allies may be included in the Air Force’s future Schriever Wargame events to help with testing future capabilities.
Responding to a question about the possibility of the Department of Defense exploring a separate Space Corps to run domain operations, Guastella deferred to senior Pentagon leadership.
“That’s a question about governance of how we should govern our domain and our space warfare. From the warfighting lens right now, that’s a great discussion for leadership to have. I’ll leave the governance discussion for another forum. I’m focused on how we can defend and deter in space today,” Guastella said.
For now, Air Force Space Command leadership continue to work on increasing its intelligence personnel among the unit, including from the squadron to group level.
“We are baking in the importance of intelligence, which drives all operations, into the space force that we have,” Guastella said. “That’s a question about governance of how we should govern our domain and our space warfare. From the warfighting lens right now, that’s a great discussion for leadership to have. I’ll leave the governance discussion for another forum. I’m focused on how we can defend and deter in space today.”