WASHINGTON — The Army is moving to better position its 1st Space Brigade to support combatant commands during multidomain operations, its commander told Defense News in an Oct. 4 interview.
“We’ve seen the operational environment changing with our near-peer adversaries,” Col. Donald Brooks said, “and as we look at how do we prepare for the future, [the] large-scale combat operations fight, the Army has evolved or is beginning to evolve to maintain relevancy.
“[P]art of that is: How do we also evolve the space operations field to support the Army and the greater military force within multidomain operations?”
To adapt, the 1st Space Brigade is taking its six-person Army space support teams, or ARSSTs, and creating four-person space control planning teams, or SCPTs, Brooks said.
Space support teams “provide subject matter expertise on space support operations along with space-related capabilities, but focus on making war fighters more effective and efficient in their ability to shoot, move and communicate,” Brooks said. They integrate directly into a division or corps Army staff, he added.
In contrast, space control planning teams focus on “planning and integrating the full breadth of offensive and defensive space-control capabilities into schemes of operations, fires and maneuver for Army joint and coalition forces,” Brooks said.
He said space control capabilities are increasingly important because “they provide the joint force the ability to outmaneuver threat forces and provide options for commanders to fight at times and places of their choosing, creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.”
While the Army is transitioning the active battalion’s three Army space support teams into SCPTs, the brigade also has Reserve and National Guard battalions, and their ARSSTs will remain. The brigade activated the new teams at the beginning of this month.
The new space control planning teams “brings to bear not only the Army’s space-control capabilities, but the Navy, the Marines and the Space Force’s capabilities as well, so they’re truly a joint team,” Brooks said.
An SCPT, for example, might participate in a joint targeting process through which a commander wants to generate non-kinetic or nonlethal effects against an adversary, like harming a communications capability, Brooks said. The team would review available intelligence and identify the signals to target, as well as how to deny, disrupt or degrade adversaries’ communications.
With the SCPTs activated, the brigade is now eyeing training and certification programs and reviewing how it can get the right people into the organization, Brooks said.
Meanwhile, the Army is continuing to transfer its relatively new satellite operations brigade to the U.S. Space Force.
The 1st Space Brigade is the only space brigade in the Army. It has command over five missile defense batteries, with two in Japan and one each in Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to Brooks. These batteries detect and discriminate ballistic missiles early in flight and provide precise tracking information for targeting by ballistic missile defense systems.
The active-duty battalion also has four theater missile warning companies and two space control companies, which cover a wide range of operations when they deploy.
Space control companies, at the unclassified level, primarily focus on defensive space control. “Essentially, that is conducting health and welfare diagnostics and vulnerability assessments on satellite communication systems,” Brooks explained.
The brigade has forward-deployed Joint Tactical Ground Stations for missile defense and missile warning in Italy, Qatar, South Korea and Japan.
The organization is dispersed across 16 locations, 10 countries and six time zones, and 40 percent of the brigade’s personnel executes operations 24 hours a day, Brooks said. About 160 soldiers are deployed to U.S. Central Command, 140 are in the Indo-Pacific Command area of operations and 150 soldiers are in the U.S. European Command theater.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.