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This article was Originally Published on Oct 20, 2005 in Volume: 4  Issue: 3

Space-Based Solutions

Army Space Commander Dodgen outlines strategy for missile defense and support for the warfighter.

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As commander of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT), Lieutenant General Larry J. Dodgen plays a key role in space and strategic defense.

During a recent interview, Dodgen discussed the responsibilities and goals of his command, which conducts space operations and provides planning, integration, control and coordination of Army forces and capabilities in support of strategic missions and serves as proponent for space and ground-based midcourse defense and as Army operational integrator for global missile defense.

Following is the interview with MAT Editor Harrison Donnelly.

Q: What do you see as the most important issues facing the Army in the areas of space and missile defense?

A: The two most important issues the Army faces today in the areas of space and missile defense are providing the capability to protect our nation, our deployed forces, our friends and allies from missile attack, and making space-based capabilities available responsively to our joint warfighters.

Homeland defense is a top priority for our nation. Providing a credible capability to defend against missile attack is a key component of this national priority, and one that necessitates the full support of each of the services and agencies. Developing and fielding an effective missile defense capability requires both time and resources to address the associated technology and equipping challenges. We must ensure that we continue to provide adequate support for the Department of Defense’s missile defense program while executing these resource intensive operations.

Our evolving strategic environment is placing significant demands on our warfighters deployed around the world. Space-based capabilities are critical enablers that can help them become more efficient, more effective, and more lethal. Concurrently, we are also involved in spearheading space-based capabilities to address our own unique capability needs. We need to actively pursue solutions to these challenges that may already be available in the commercial world. Commercial imagery and nonmilitary satellite communications assets were invaluable during the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We continue to look at how these capabilities should be leveraged. We are making progress in this area with the Army Space Council and update of the Army Space Master Plan.

Q: What is your assessment of the current state of national ballistic missile defense and of the Army’s role in it?

A: The ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) has been designed to provide a limited capability to defend the homeland, our deployed forces and our allies and friends against a growing ballistic missile threat. We have that limited capability today and we are prepared to employ it when directed. The warfighter and the materiel developer also have detailed plans for transitioning BMDS test bed assets to operational status should the need arise. The system will have the capability to intercept and destroy short, medium, intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles during any phase of flight—boost, midcourse and terminal.

The system employs a development and acquisition strategy called spiral development, which means that we can field the system incrementally to get a capability, and can then be systematically upgraded and improved as emerging technologies become available to meet the projected threat. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) have a well-coordinated plan to progressively expand our capabilities through block improvements. Finally, a rigorous testing program, involving ground and flight tests, is in place to ensure the understanding and confidence of both developers and operators grows as the system matures.

The Army has a critical role to play in the development and fielding of the BMDS. First, the Army is the lead service and user representative for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) component of the BMDS. This requires SMDC/ARSTRAT as the designated Army proponent for GMD to coordinate with the other services and with the combatant commanders to ensure user issues are identified and coordinated with the materiel developer, MDA. Second, the Army is a critical member of the joint warfighter team that will man and operate the BMDS.

Soldiers of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (GMD) and the 49th Missile Defense Battalion (GMD) operate the ground-based portion of the integrated BMDS. These units provide fire control functions at Colorado Springs, CO, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, and Fort Greely, AK, as well as military police security for the Alaska site. The soldiers serving with these units have undergone a rigorous selection process and are trained and certified on the systems they will be operating. They are intensely dedicated to this critically important mission.

Q: What capabilities do you think will be most important in meeting the Army’s future space needs?

A: The Army recognizes that space-based capabilities are vital to joint warfighters. Our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have made it abundantly evident that space enables us to deliver capabilities that just cannot be matched by terrestrial-based systems. Space-based capabilities will be even more important in the future. As such, we need to keep our emphasis in four areas:

Support must be responsive and assured to the warfighter on the ground. Warfighters need immediate access to actionable information. They also encounter data-overload, making it a challenge for them to identify what they need to know. Intelligence and space professionals working with supporting agencies must strive to understand how warfighters will use selected information in different scenarios, and then proactively seek to support those information requirements. It is also important that relevant operational requirements for warfighters remain the primary focus of attention rather than the implementing architecture and its processes.

Support must be timely. Support must be provided “in time” to be relevant to warfighters; support that arrives late serves as but an historical side note. Tremendous efforts are being expended to expedite relevant technologies and capabilities being developed in support of the future force to support current force requirements. We are aggressively pursuing several initiatives in an effort to speed technological solutions in support of our deployed warfighters. Examples include science and technology initiatives to enhance situational awareness and determine the origins and likely impact points of enemy missiles.

Support must be flexible. Rapidly evolving combat situations demand responsive and tailorable solutions that can satisfy warfighters’ requirements in multiple operational scenarios. Additionally, the provision of support within a joint context is an operational imperative. Joint warfighters do a great job in taking existing systems and finding new ways to use them. However, this approach is not a solution. We must increase the dialogue between warfighters and materiel developers to ensure that future systems and modifications to existing systems meet warfighters’ needs.

Support must be deliverable to warfighters on the move in an asymmetric environment. Our future adversaries and concepts of operation to fight them are not like those of the past. This new security environment will likely include adversaries who have access to advanced technology, including global communications, space-based spectral imagery and automation infrastructures. As a result, joint warfighters will depend on support that lets them pursue the enemy on a 24/7 basis. Confronting these evolving challenges will also require us to leverage space-based systems in an effective manner against this adaptive enemy.

Some of the most important areas needed to fulfill these operational needs deals with expanding our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), space control and communications capabilities. This includes enhanced protected wideband communications with “on the move” flexibility and high bandwidth connectivity to all command and control nodes.

It also includes continued improvements in the capabilities of ISR sensors on-orbit, and improving the ability of these sensors to collect and deliver tactically relevant information to joint warfighters. We must provide tactically responsive capabilities and technologies to dominate terrain. This capability will enhance the situational awareness, lethality, survivability, and operations tempo for the Army’s future force. Concurrently, downlink improvements are needed so that the military forces that need this information obtain it within their operational timeline requirements.

A lower cost, more rapid lift capability, permitting the quick reconstitution of on-orbit assets and the ability to “round out” constellations to optimize coverage over a specific theater of operations is also needed. Robust space control capabilities ensure our freedom of action in space and, when directed, deny it to an adversary.

Establishing processes and the means to deliver these capabilities to our joint warfighters is imperative. In this regard, the Army has established an organic Space Support Element (SSE) in each of its reorganizing Units of Employment (UEx and UEy). The SSE now serves as a focal point for leveraging space operations into division and brigade-level plans and operations.

The first SSE was certified in fall of 2004 and joined the 3rd Infantry Division. The SSE deployed with the unit to Iraq last January. Additional SSEs are with the 10th Mountain, 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and 4th Infantry Division. Each of these SSEs will deploy with their units. Between the summers of 2005 and 2006, up to six more active and Reserve SSEs will be activated, manned, equipped and trained. These SSEs will be augmented by the capabilities available from the Space Support Teams assigned to the 1st Space Brigade.

Q: What is your strategy for developing a corps of Army space professionals?

A: We have an identified Army cadre today: our Space Operations Officers of Functional Area (FA) 40. We currently have more than 170 Space Operations Officers. These officers are a very talented group. Fifty percent of them have advanced degrees in technical areas of study. These officers are assigned in our front-line divisions and joint and DoD-level space-related organizations. They are represented in the active component, National Guard and Army Reserve.

Once an individual is selected to be an FA 40, he or she receives specialized training through an 11-week Space Operations Officer Qualification Course, which includes the Air Force’s National Security Space Institute Space 200 Course. They are managed by the Army Space Cadre Office within SMDC/ARSTRAT.

In addition to putting great effort on the selection and training aspects, we have worked closely with the National Security Space Office to ensure the Army space cadre is integrated and synchronized with other service cadres and the vision of the executive agent for space as part of the space human capital resource strategy and implementation plan. The space mission area demands that we operate as a joint force, and although each of the services needs a tailored cadre designed to meet each of our respective needs, they must be based on common characteristics, training and standards. We are beginning to achieve this through integration with the National Security Space Institute, and will continue to look for additional ways to leverage against each of the services’ professional development opportunities.

Additionally, we are nearing completion of a force management analysis (FORMAL) process that is designed to further define our space cadre. As space becomes increasingly important to our military and our nation, we need to look beyond our current cadre of Space Operations Officers and ensure we are acquiring, training, and developing space professionals across the entire force.

Q: In 2004, you listed as one of your priorities as commander of SMDC/ARSTRAT the maturing of its relationship as Army service component to U.S. Strategic Command. What progress have you made toward that goal?

A: Over the past year, SMDC/ARSTRAT soldiers have made significant progress maturing our role as the Army service component to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

We have achieved this through an aggressive effort to proactively support USSTRATCOM requirements and to ensure we are fully coordinated with our other Army partners responsible for supporting USSTRATCOM’s mission areas. Our progress toward that goal has included:

  • Participation in developing USSTRATCOM concepts of operations (CONOPS) and operational plans (OPLANS).
  • Drafting of SMDC/ARSTRAT supporting plans.
  • SMDC/ARSTRAT, as the ASCC to USSTRATCOM, providing Army interface and support to the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations (JTF-GNO).
  • Completion of a memorandum of agreement with the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) and 1st Information Operations Command on execution of computer network operations.
  • Coordination with the Army staff, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), 20th Support Command (SUPCOM), U.S. Army Nuclear and Chemical Agency (USANCA) and the U.S. Army Chemical School (USACMLS) to help understand, define and craft the scope and concept of how to undertake the new combating weapons of mass destruction mission assigned to USSTRATCOM in January this year.
  • Coordination with the Joint Functional Component Command-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (JFCC-ISR) and USSTRATCOM in understanding and crafting how the services and their USSTRATCOM components will contribute to the global ISR responsibilities assigned to USSTRATCOM.

Q: What is your role in the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, and how is it working to bring better structure and discipline to military networks?

A: As mentioned, SMDC/ARSTRAT, as the ASCC to USSTRATCOM, provides Army interface and support to the JTF-GNO. As such, we directly balance the requests of the JTF-GNO with the needs of the Army by being involved in the development of plans for future operations and various contingencies. We do not “get in the middle” of day-to-day operations—we leave that to the soldiers of Army NETCOM and the 1st Information Operations Command. They were the pioneers in the network operations field and have a long history of success in this area.

Q: From your command’s perspective, what are the key issues involved in battle management and control of ballistic missile defense?

A: The challenge of conducting the global ballistic missile defense (GBMD) is the ability to plan, integrate and coordinate the GBMD fight across the globe, in near-real time, to effectively employ the layered defense against the ballistic threats across geographical boundaries. This is a great challenge, but it is clearly not insurmountable. The key to GBMD success is to develop and maintain an effective battle management command control and communication structure that facilitates vertical, horizontal, and cross-command integration of the global assets and warfighters. We are working closely with USSTRATCOM and other members of the team to make this happen, and we are making great progress.

Q: What are the latest developments in the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program?

A: This unique tri-national cooperative development program located in Huntsville, AL, recently completed a three-year risk reduction effort phase. The MEADS program started its development phase in September 2004 with a bi-lateral letter contract between Italy and the U.S. This effort was transitioned to a full-fledged tri-national effort on May 31, 2005, with the signing of the design and development (D&D) contract. The prelude to this included signing a tri-national MOU with Germany and Italy, and re-chartering the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) to manage the day-to-day activities of the contract.

The uniqueness of this program is that it is a truly cooperative multi-national research and development effort. It is directed by a three-nation steering committee and managed by a NATO agency staffed by the three nations on a work share/cost basis of 58 percent, 25 percent and 17 percent for the U.S., Germany and Italy, respectively.

The MEADS program is now nine months into D&D and just completed a system-level system requirements review (SRR) in May 2005. The remainder of FY05 and FY06 will be focused primarily on completion of internal baseline review (IBRs) and major end item level SRRs to prepare for a preliminary design review in FY07.

Q: What are your most important goals for the future?

A: Our first priority is to continue providing support to joint warfighters on the ground. We are a nation at war, and as such it is imperative that we do everything we can to support our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen to do their job and accomplish the mission. We will continue to fully support our nation’s ongoing efforts in the war on terror.

Ensuring the success of the BMDS is vital to our national security. We will continue to work closely with the MDA and the other members of the BMDS team to provide these important capabilities.

We are intensely focused on ensuring that SMDC/ARSTRAT is a full contributing member of the joint team. Our assignment as the ASCC to USSTRATCOM partnership and my role as commander, JFCC IMD, is clear evidence of our deep commitment to the joint force.

Support of Army transformation is also extremely important. Technology development and expediting it to the warfighters are important components of this goal. As an example, the Army has stepped up to the land-attack cruise missile defense challenge by aggressively developing the joint, integrated and networked sensor-C2-shooter architecture necessary to defeat the emerging threat. We are also looking at a variety of other capabilities, including high altitude long loiter, directed energy and space control.

I have also set a goal to ensure we are properly setting the course for the future of Army space and how it can best support the warfighter in the future. A part of this goal is to update the Army Space Master Plan.

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