SSE Ways to Engage

By MAJ W. Alexander Toney

The FA40 community needs a Space Support Element Course! Serving as an SSE chief of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea provided insights that I want to share with fellow Army space operations officers, or Functional Area 40s (FA40s). The Army space community must distinctly define what the roles of the SSE are according to desired space dominance effects. Establishing SSE training will help to formalize and standardize the SSE roles to ensure that the Army is ahead of its adversaries in providing, operating and defending space capabilities. Our adversaries are using space to impact our forces and Soldiers must always keep in mind the U.S. military could be rendered ineffective if its space assets or capabilities are compromised. I am an advocate for an SSE course to teach space operators how to best deliver space dominance to all Department of Defense organizations.
SSEs provide space capabilities and space products to units, enhancing their intelligence and operation planning capabilities. One of the many goals of an SSE is to ensure the staff and the commander at core and division levels know of the denied, degraded and disrupted space operational environment. The SSE faces challenges of employing available space capabilities into the operations process, commander’s mission sets and unit priorities without the transfer of classified or sensitive information to unaccredited or unauthorized personnel or systems.
Over 90 percent of FA40s will be assigned to an SSE position at some point in their career. If FA40s have completed Space 200 and the Space Operations Officer Qualification Course then they have learned the fundamentals or the “science” of space operations. The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) uses methods to protect the homeland, provide combat ready forces, plan and conduct synchronized global operations, prepare and adopt leap ahead concepts and technologies, preserve Nation’s critical resources and promote a positive command climate.

Beyond the fundamentals of existing space courses, an SSE-specific course will better prepare and equip the SSE to provide space to the warfighter aligning with the purpose of the SMDC command. An SSE course will provide FA40s with essential skills needed to incorporate new technology, training for military units, coordinating future plans for systems and facilitating space planning of personnel and forces to enhance the commander’s mission. Training aligning with Combatant Command (COCOMS), space integration staff planning, space exercise/training support, and space information international sharing is a brilliant step in achieving mastery for space operators assigned to an SSE position. The SSE course will train FA40s to implement space-based technologies and to work with cyber-electromagnetic activities. Knowing cyber operations provides an advantage in how to mitigate adversaries from using hostile acts of aggression which deter or hinder mission accomplishment.

The Tactical Space Operations Cell (TSOC) course is very important to understanding the time and effort in developing space software tools that can influence a commander’s decision. Through the TSOC course SSE personnel learn the many programs that can be used to show an avenue of approach for informing G-3 aviation elements; collection gathering for G-2 intelligence; determining main supply routes for G-4 logistics elements; informing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, and high-yield explosives teams of possible incidents and strengthening ties with civilian organizations regarding situational events happening on the battlefield.

The Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS) units have JTAGS Initial Qualification Training (IQT), the Mobile Integrated Ground Suite (MIGS) course is for MIGS operators, and Army Space Support Teams ( ARSST) have the Tactical Space Operations Course Distributed Common Ground System-Army ( DCGS-A). However, the TSOC DCGS-A course is designed for operators, not soldiers who will be in an SSE full time.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Having a course at the US Army Missile Defense School which manages space annexes and policies/smartbooks that SSEs can use to strengthen all the staff functions to benefit, with lessons learned by incorporating legal, operations, aviation, plans, intelligence, logistics, information operations is a step in assuring success for the SSEs. As new Army units like the Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) develop, FA40s need a specialized course to learn how to be effective in these units. With this course, special instruction will be taught to FA40s on how to prepare for implementing abilities into a COCOM.

The SSE is the “one-stop shop” for areas of space doctrine, space environment, space law, space systems, force applications and other related capabilities of the electromagnetic spectrum. The scheme of space operations includes having dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum. Cyber-electromagnetic activities, information operations and cyber operations are based on the use of space-based technology and are reliant on satellite communication. Space technology “opens the door” to their endeavors to operate without interference and disruption. Learning and understanding adversaries’ vulnerabilities can enable FA40s to protect their operational unit’s assets and conduct operations. Educating FA40s on Field Manual 3-13, Information Operations, and FM 3-12, Cyberspace and Electronic Warfare Operations, gives an awareness into other domains that assist space operations in protecting networks of communication. This effort will enhance intelligence and information management functions of providing best practices in disseminating information and collecting information.

Keep in mind, field artillery officers or aviators on staff do not have howitzers or aircraft at their disposal. Just like a space operations officer they plan, implement and coordinate units in their command’s artillery and aviation assets to perform the mission. With a training element at U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) for SSEs, coordination of space elements is essential for the success of FA40s.

The course will be Space Control centric. A three week course designed to teach TTPs, Software knowledge and finish with a Command Post Exercise (CPX). The course will teach on analysis, assessments and staff planning integration. Developing an SSE course will focus on the near peer fight acknowledging the Real World threat. Courses on Satellite atmospheric science, space Interference planning, offensive and defensive planning integration, international information sharing, Distributed Common Ground System–Army (DCGS-A) training, and instruction on advising Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB), Special Forces Groups (SF), and our allied partner nations. Contested Space training using the Army Space Training and Integration (ASTI) Branch in the SMDC G37 along, with the Missile Defense schoolhouse will provide specific assets to train FA-40s and Army Space Support Team (ARSST) personnel in the course.

Space technology enhances communication, flies unmanned aerial systems, targets enemy locations using lethal force and navigates forces throughout the battlefield. SSEs need to be seen, participate and contribute to working groups and in-progress reviews with the staff for better understanding and focus of how to implement space into the vision of the organization.

In conclusion, leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization. This course will lead in guiding army space operators toward protecting and defending space assets from threats which would cripple units in the event of an attack. Space operations officers are an entity customized to have unique assets, capabilities and special knowledge of space technology. By working with counterparts in space-related career fields, knowledge can be gained into Joint Space Operations Centers (JSOCs) which plan and coordinate space forces into real-world missions. An SSE Course will empower leaders throughout the space operations communities introducing ideas and a way forward through the space organization domains.

Author: Maj. W. Alexander Toney is a space forces evaluator in the Training, Readiness and Exercise Division, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.