Space professionals effectively employ space in counter-insurgency fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dillon White
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
More than 40 space warfighters from the U.S. and deployed locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Southwest Asia attended the Theater Space Conference Feb. 8 through 10 here,

Space experts from all branches of service collaborated to improve and maintain current space capabilities, such as global positioning, satellite communications, space control and command and control systems.

Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, the Combined Force Air Component deputy commander, challenged space operators to take operational integration to a new level of effectiveness. He also spoke of the need to integrate all facets of combat power; air, ground, space and cyber.

"Space forces, just like air and ground forces, are adapting their capabilities, effects and operations to the current conflict, rather than trying to fit the conflict to their way of doing business," he said.

Following General Hoog's remarks, attendees from each regional command in Afghanistan and Iraq shared the successes, challenges and issues they currently face in U.S. Central Command's efforts to support air and ground commanders.

Space experts also put their information and combined experiences to work.

"This is not just a conference where people come and listen passively," said Col. David Thompson, the U.S. Air Forces Central director of space forces. "We break people up into work groups, assign them specific tasks and say, 'OK, your job is to find a solution to this problem and report back on your work.'"

Army Maj. Tod Fenner, the Army Space Support team leader, said topics covered during the three-day conference will help him better support coalition forces at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

"We discussed the unique challenges associated with working within a coalition environment," he said. "We covered how we can better share vital space information with coalition forces, which can often be a challenge because of security classification guidelines."

This better understanding will allow him to provide relevant information in a timely fashion without compromising security, he said.

"We provide a 3-D visualization of the battle space to our coalition partners," the major said. "Space is all about completing that visual picture, whether it's the enemy, the terrain, the time or the target, the more complete the visualization we can provide for our coalition forces, the more effective they can be."

The proof of the conference's effectiveness can be found in its track record, actionable solutions and plans that Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen have produced here.

"During the conference in June, we addressed the drawdown in Iraq and buildup in Afghanistan," Colonel Thompson said. "We needed a plan to draw down space forces and space support in one place and build it up in another. We put together a team to create that plan, then implemented it. The space force transition is now in the final stages of completion."

Integration of space capabilities between U.S. and coalition forces, such as Afghanistan's International Security Assistance Force, also took root at a TSC.

"Integration and synchronization of effects can only go so far through e-mails, phone calls and video teleconferences," said Army Lt. Col. Rich Lewis, the United States Air Forces Central Command deputy director of space forces. "Building an effective team that can deal with these complex challenges requires strong relationships. This conference also strives to build those relationships."