USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, at 31st National Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs. Credit: The Space Foundation

USAF Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, at 31st National Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs.
Credit: The Space Foundation

 

More details have been issued by the U.S. Air Force on a Space Mission Force or SMF.

The objective is to prepare and present space forces as a ready force capable of operating in a “contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment.”

According to the Air Force in a press statement, the SMF “will be the new standard for space operators to increase preparedness to operate their weapon systems and respond to the increasing threats to those same systems.”

Ready spacecrew

An SMF White Paper, dated June 29th, has been authored by General John E. Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command. “The Space Mission Force construct is really quite simple; we are revamping our crews to respond appropriately to threats in a dynamic environment,” he said.

One key element of the SMF is that it establishes the Ready Spacecrew Program.

That initiative enhances training to create a force capable of performing combatant commander-directed missions in the face of dynamic and varied threats.

“The Ready Spacecrew Program will maintain foundational skills and, more importantly, will build new skills and emphasize innovation, decision making at the lowest levels and development and use of tactics to counter space threats,” notes the Air Force statement.

Artist's view of the Missile Defense Agency's Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (STSS-D) spacecraft tracking objects in space. Photo credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation

Artist’s view of the Missile Defense Agency’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (STSS-D) spacecraft tracking objects in space.
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation

No longer a sanctuary

The 50th Space Wing was the first wing to implement the Space Mission Force construct and begin rotations, which started on Feb. 1, 2016.

The 21st Space Wing implemented SMF on July 1, 2016 and the 460th Space Wing will transition to the SMF construct next year.

“Space as a global commons is vital to commerce and is an essential element of Joint Warfare and global stability,” Hyten explains in the White Paper. “Space is no longer a sanctuary where the United States or our allies and partners operate with impunity.”

In the White Paper, Hyten adds that the United States faces current and future challenges in space that demand an immediate change in how we organize, train, equip and employ our forces.

“Our Nation and our Air Force demand the presentation of expertly trained and professionally led spacecrews, capable of accomplishing their missions under combat conditions. I expect nothing less,” the general concludes in the White Paper.

For a copy of the SMF White Paper, go to:

http://www.airforcemag.com/DRArchive/Documents/2016/July%202016/Space%20Mission%20Force%20White%20Paper.pdf

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