Space and Missile Defense: Essential Capabilities for the Army, Joint Force & the Nation

By Dodgen, Larry J. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Space and Missile Defense: Essential Capabilities for the Army, Joint Force & the Nation


Dodgen, Larry J., Army


Ongoing combat operations are demonstrating as never before the importance of integrated space and missile defense to joint warfighters and the nation. Wideband satellite communications; position, navigation and timing data; weather, terrain and environmental data; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data; and missile early warning data are now readily available to U.S. military forces. We have seen the potential of these capabilities employed during the extraordinary successes in the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Even today, an extensive array of space and missile defense resources continues to support our engaged forces. Ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere continue to benefit from advanced technologies leveraged by the space and missile defense professionals serving with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC).

As the Army's proponent for space and integrated missile defense, SMDC is at the forefront of providing these vital capabilities to our joint warfighters. This is a legacy dating back to the nation's first successful missile launch into space in February 1949.

Today, SMDC, as a major Army command, concurrently serves as the Army service component command (ASCC) for the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). SMDC also conducts an extensive variety of mission-related research, development and acquisition (RDA) in support of its Army Title 10 responsibilities.

SMDC's responsibilities-joint and global in expansiveness-were particularly relevant this past year with the delivery of planning and space-based products and services in support of the global war on terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The successful toppling of Saddam Hussein's repressive regime occurred not only because of superior technology, but also because of 'well-trained space professionals, serving in Army space units around the globe and providing vital and timely operational support to combatant commanders.

Thousands of other SMDC soldiers and civilians provided far-reaching support at a variety of locations, from Kwaj alein Atoll to Korea and from Qatar to Germany.

Soldiers and civilians serving with SMDC's 1st Space Brigade (Provisional), the Army's first and only space brigade, provided access to products and services that were significantly more capable, more abundant and more integrated into all phases of combat operations. The brigade's three battalions-the 1st Satellite Control Battalion, the 1st Space Battalion, and the 193rd Space Support Battalion, Colorado Army National Guard-supported combatant commanders by providing satellite communications and force enhancement. The SMDC Operations Center, located in Colorado Springs, CoIo., maintained 24/7 situational awareness of deployed elements, responded to hundreds of requests for information and provided the essential reach-back system of connectivity with technical subject matter experts.

In addition to ensuring space-based force enhancement, SMDC provided early missile warning and missile defense support for joint warfighters. Joint tactical ground station (JTAGS) detachments, supported by Army and Navy personnel, monitored enemy missile launch activity and other infrared events of interest.

SMDC soldiers remain deployed in support of OIF. On a daily basis, these soldiers leverage space operations for the Coalition Provisional Authority and Combined Joint Task Force-7 by responding to requests for spectral imagery and mapping products, providing GPS accuracy and performance, furnishing updates on space weather and monitoring space-based systems for reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition. Even now, spectral products assist coalition and Iraqi authorities in reconstruction and infrastructure redevelopment.

Combat operations are no longer limited to land, sea and air. It is clear that we will increasingly rely on the high ground of space as an essential integrator of capabilities.

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Space and Missile Defense: Essential Capabilities for the Army, Joint Force & the Nation
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