NEWS | Oct. 3, 2016

USSTRATCOM hosts space exercise with international partners

By U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) led the third Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Tabletop Exercise (TTX) / GLOBAL SENTINEL 16 (GS-16), Sept. 21-30, at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia. The event provided an opportunity to develop and implement processes for partners from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and commercial entities to collaborate on combined SSA operations.

GLOBAL SENTINEL SSA-TTX has become the premier international forum for partner and allied space integration at the tactical and operational level, said Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier, USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy, who attended the event. All of the nations represented here have seen firsthand the value in a cooperative, integrated capability to ensure we can defend and protect our allied space assets.

This year, Japan was a full participant in the SSA-TTX, after observing the event in 2015.

SSA is a new field for [the] Ministry of Defense (MOD); and in order for us to build effective structures, it is extremely important to cooperate with the United States, who has broad experience and advanced knowledge of space operations, said Mr. Masami Oka, Japan MOD Bureau of Defense Policy deputy director general. SSA-TTX is such a great opportunity for us to learn and the MOD is grateful to USSTRATCOM for providing such a wonderful opportunity; we hope to maintain close cooperation with the U.S. in the future.

This SSA-TTX also spurred interest from representatives of nations like Italy, who observed two days of the event.

Senior military officers and government officials from each participating nation, as well as executives from major industry partners, attended a distinguished visitors day on Sept. 29, including three-time European Space Agency astronaut Italian Air Force Brig. Gen. Roberto Vittori.

The general said he experienced an opportunity to ensure the safety of space flight and strengthen the international cooperation through day-by-day operation and exchanges of ideas, data and information.

This GLOBAL SENTINEL event is an opportunity to contribute to the growth of a new aerospace culture, focusing on the federation of national capabilities and the starting point of a new international space operational center, Vittori added.

During the exercise, each of the participating nations maintained a Space Operations Center (SpOC) to command and control (C2) their respective SSA assets. The SSA-TTX/GS-16 also experimented with a fully integrated, notional Federation Space Operations Center (FedSpOC) to demonstrate the value of a combined and integrated C2 capability. Each participating nation had representation in the FedSpOC to allow unity of effort, more comprehensive SSA and enhanced spaceflight safety.

Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Nathan Burgess, who played the part of the FedSpOC crew commander, said the FedSpOC proved to be a synergistic forum within which to coordinate the actions of the national SpOCs.

The FedSpOC enabled tactical coordination, operational level analysis, as well as strategic liaison with the various national headquarters and industry, he added.

In his third year for SSA-TTX participation, German Air Force Lt. Col. Lothar Pichler said he continues to see the value in the event for his country.

For us as a newcomer to the SSA business, it is important to have close interaction with the partners. We will try to use the best practices and common tools in our German Space Situational Awareness Centre.

The collaborative relationships being built between partner nations during SSA-TTX/GS-16 has proven beneficial and has spurred interest in participation from additional nations. This event supports U.S. national space security objectives to promote responsible, peaceful and safe use of space as well as to partner with responsible nations, international organizations and commercial firms. Each participating nation also shares common themes in their national policies, whether stated explicitly or inferred, to recognize the importance of SSA, seek increased international cooperation and to ensure space security and protection.

One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions assigned through the Unified Command Plan that include strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.