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This article was Originally Published on Aug 01, 2002 in Volume: 1  Issue: 4

Space Commander

Interview with Lieutenant General Joseph M. Cosumano Jr.

U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and the U.S. Army Space Command (ARSPACE)

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Lieutenant General Joseph M. Cosumano Jr. assumed command of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and the U.S. Army Space Command (ARSPACE) on April 30, 2001.

General Cosumano received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in industrial technology from Northwestern State College, Natchitoches, LA. He is a distinguished graduate of the Army Aviation School and the Air Command and Staff College.

General Cosumano commanded three batteries in his early careerâ??a Vulcan battery in the 1st Armored Division, Germany, and a headquarters and a Hawk battery in Korea. He later commanded the 1st Battalion, 55th Air Defense Artillery (Chaparral/Vulcan), 5th Mechanized Division, Fort Polk, LA, from 1984-1986, and the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air Defense Command, U.S. Army Europe, from 1990-1992.

Cosumanoâ??s flag officer assignments include Deputy Commanding General at the Army Air Defense Artillery Center and School, Fort Bliss, TX; the J-5, Director of Plans, Programs and Policies, U.S. Space Command, Colorado Springs, CO; Chief of Staff Synchronization Cell for the Army Quadrennial Defense Review; Program Manager, National Missile Defense Joint Program Office; Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans for Force Development, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C., and Director of Task Force Objective Force.

Lieutenant General Cosumano was interviewed by Dan Cook.

Q: Could you describe the challenges and duties you face as commander of SMDC?

A:  Our major challenge is the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom. Our operational part of Space and Missile Defense Command is the Army Space Command in Colorado Springs. We are the Army component to USCINCSPACE.

In that regard we have deployed Army space support teams. These are Army teams with Army units in the area of operation (AO) that ensure space capabilities are provided to the warfighter.

These special operations soldiers carry GPSâ??s (geopositioning satellite gear), laser designators, and satellite communications, as well as Blue Force tracking devices so that we know where they areâ??and all this is enabled by space. The Armyâ??s space support teams ensure that our soldiers are well-equipped and provided with those capabilities.

We are at work on the war on terrorism in Afghanistan in various parts of the AO.

We have also deployed  one of ARSPACEâ??s space-control electronic warfare detachments to ensure that we can control space assets, deny the enemy the use of space assets, and ensure our own use of space assets.

If I say anything more it would be unwise.

But it is important and of note that we value space so much in this operationâ??and in future operationsâ??that we have and are deploying space control assets to assure our use and deny the other personâ??s use of space.

Weâ??re also deploying a new system called Grenadier Brat. This is a Blue Force tracking system, deployed for the first time in this conflict. It can be mounted on vehicles, carried by soldiers, or mounted on helicopters. You can sit in a command and control station almost anywhere, even in the U.S., and through communications links by satellites, see your forces moving around on the ground, or in the air. Grenadier Brat provides an excellent capability for command and control, a real plus for us.

At USCINCSPACE,  my joint war-fighting boss in Colorado Springs has stood up a Mission Management Center to manage Blue Force tracking devices worldwide.

Army Space Command is the lead for that mission management center and is executive agent. The purpose of the Mission Management Center is to make sure these Blue Force tracking devices are operating properly. 

In addition, we have deployed a Joint Tactical Ground Station, or JTAGS. This is a direct link from our defense satellite/surveillance programs, or infrared satellites, into the theater.

Q: General, I realize you are limited on what you can say in terms of what is going on Afghanistan but I suppose the next question is a follow-on. Obviously there are lessons being learned in Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. Could you comment on what these lessons are and, based on them, what changes in space and missile defense can we expect to see in future conflicts?

A: Let me talk a little more about Noble Eagle and then go to Enduring Freedom. Weâ??ve done quite a bit in the Army in the support of both.

In Noble Eagle, weâ??ve deployed from our battle lab a Future Operational Capability Tactical Operation Center. This fuses all the various data links together. We did that in support of the first continental air defense region that had a necessity after 9/11 to put together not only military data links, but all FAA data links. Before that, it didnâ??t have a good real-time technical means to do that.

But we had worked with the first continental air defense region on air defense exercises before, and the next day, Sept. 12, we deployed from our battle lab the tactical operation center, and it has served a very useful purpose.

Now, back to your question of what lessons have been learned.

Weâ??ve obviously learned the value of space, as unconventional as it is. Since you donâ??t have a uniformed force youâ??re fighting, it has great value in terms of seeing the battlespace first, 24 hours a day.

Even though the theater of operations lacks an infrastructure, space provides the ability to communicate, to get intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance quickly from one place to another. When coupled with space-based precision tools such as Global Positioning System satellites, you can engage very, very quickly. The direct lesson we learned in this particular war has been how you can compress those timelines, from sensor to shooter, very, very quickly.

We also have learned the value of Blue Force tracking products. When the battle lines are not clear, you need to have the position of the friendly forces at all times. This has been a success, too.

Obviously, I already talked about satellite communications but essentially in this war against terrorism, we only had a few hundred people deployed at any one time in theater. Nevertheless, we have used about seven times the bandwidth as we did for all our deployed forcesâ??500,000â??in Desert Storm.

I think there are two takeaway points. One, there is tremendous value with satellite communications; two, the demand for satellites increases their value. We have to build an infrastructure to be able to satisfy the demand for this type of communication.

Q: What is SMDC doing to better integrate missile defenses?

A: Weâ??re the operational integrator for the Army for missile defense in the joint environment.

We provide not only the scientists and engineers who work on the missile defense program in Huntsville, AL, but we also work on all future concepts for missile defense. We work very closely with the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Weâ??ve established a senior advisory group with TRADOC that looks at all future concepts. While thereâ??s been a sea change in space, thereâ??s also been a sea change in missile defense with the creation of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

With that came a new approach called the Ballistic Missile Defense System, a single, seamless system with elements that deal with theater problems such as Patriot, Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis, and airborne lasersâ??as well as elements that deal with national problems, such as the Ground-based Midcourse system, formerly the space-based National Missile Defense system; the Sea-based Midcourse System; and the Space Based Laser.

So now you have a single architecture from theater all the way to CONUS. With that brings the necessity for a new concept of operations and so we are working closely with TRADOC for this concept of operation.

How does the Army fit into this environment?

With Patriot, THAAD and our Ground-based Midcourse System, and, in the future, the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS.

How do we work with the war-fighting CINC that will have responsibility for fighting with this single seamless system? There has not been a war-fighting CINC designated to do that yet. So, if you look at the requirements now for missile defense you have Joint Forces Command for theater missile defense and to essentially oversee that responsibility for doctrine and then later work with the services deploying forces.

SPACECOM has been responsible for the development of the National Missile Defense System and the Army has been the lead service. It has only been ground-based because of the ABM treaty.

Now you have the MDA with this new approach, and you have the ABM treaty that went away on June 14. That leaves wide open the concepts that have to pull sea, air, and space together. 

Those concepts have to be pulled together, and the systems developed. 

We also have to do a better job on missile defense in its totality, the other elements of integrated missile defense that really contribute to defeating the enemyâ??s missile threats.

There are really three areasâ??space, missile defense and information operationsâ??that will have a major impact upon the U.S.â??s ability to project, sustain, and execute global force engagements. You have seen and you will see a lot more emphasis by the Secretary of Defense and the military departments in seeking concepts and material solutions to each one of these three mission areas.

Q: What role would a groundâ??based missile defense play in helping the Army transition into the objective force?

A: Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), the U.S.â??s only theater ballistic missile system, will continue to improve that and coupled with THAAD, will provide necessary protection for access and entry into theaters of operation, and give us the ability to operate under that umbrella.  

As we build the objective force, it will be a lighter more deployable force. So the need to transition from the PATRIOT system that we have today to a future system called MEADS is even more important. The PATRIOT is as good as it is; you know its 20 years old and is frankly not that mobile. It takes C-5Aâ??s to move it around. The Army does not self-deploy, it is the only service that does not self-deploy. We are dependant upon the Air Force and the Navy to move us.

MEADS is a new system that weâ??re working with the Germans and the Italians to solve that issue of those future force requirements of mobility and deployability. It has a capability against not only ballistic missiles but also essentially does what PAC-3 does today and defends against cruise missiles, airplanes, and ballistic missiles. That new system is really the theater-ballistic-missile and the cruise-missile system for the Armyâ??s future force and for the future force of our friends and allies.

Q: What is SMDC doing differently in response to the Space Commissionâ??s recommendations?

A: SMDC has been organized for over a decade and has combat development, material development, and operational elements in one command under a three-star. It has proven to be of great value.

We have turned systems around very, very quickly. The JTAGS system is a ground-system that receives a direct downlink from our early warning satellites. We set that up in three-and-a-half years.

Grenadier Brat, the Blue Force tracking system, took only two-and-a-half to three years. The Future Operational Capability Tactical Operations Center is a fusion device for all these various battles and digital links. We did that in nine months. I can give you a string of successes that we were able to do because we have all thisâ??from concepts to operationsâ??and we can put in the operatorâ??s hands very quickly.

Now the other services have seen the value of this, especially the Air Force and as a result of the Space Commission recommendations, the Air Force is organized now like SMDC. They moved the Space and Missile Center, which is their space and missile material development activity, from the Air Force Material Command to Air Force Space Command. Now in Air Force Space Command, they look like we do. So they have seen great value in the way weâ??re organized. They have upgraded their Air Force space position to a single four-star position. Previously the Air Force space commander-in-chief was a triple-hatted job, in charge of NORAD, Air Force space and SPACECOM.

As a result of the Space Commission, the Navyâ??s view on the value of space now and in the future has evolved to the point that it has stood up a three-star position where there was a one-star positionâ??Navyâ??s Space Command and Navy Network Warfare Commandâ??to get at what they believe as one of their key issues: how do we maintain command, control and communications, and provide all these space services to the fleet? How do we do information operations for the Navy? 

I think the Army has all along understood this over the last decade and as an organization that gets all those needs right now, we do not focus on space launches and we really donâ??t even fly satellites. We are responsible for building ground stations of all types that can be in the hands of soldiers to facilitate the use of space. Weâ??re just part of the space team and Air Force is quarterback because they are the lead service. They spend about 16 to 17 billion dollars a year on space. The Army spends about $600 million so we leverage our dollars a lot and weâ??re quite happy with that. As long as we continue to have a forum where we can get our capabilities met and our requirements enforced, weâ??re okay.

Q: What specifically is SMDC doing in response to the space reorganization?

A: We had already been organized fairly well in terms of Army Space Command,  but the Space Commission also said that each service would develop a space cadre of educated officers and enlisted personnel. As a result of that, the Army has stood up a professional designation called Functional Area 40 Space Operations for officers, and we have already graduated two courses.  The takeaway point is that we have developed, and the Army has agreed, to train and are beginning to train a cadre of officers. And in the future they will be space professionals who will carry this business of space to the ground force and ensure that they understand the value of what it does and the capabilities it can bring. 

Q: What is SMDC doing in the areas of space control?

A: We obviously understand the value of space, not only military space but also commercial applications of space. Space control was used in this most rudimentary sense in the war in Afghanistan when we bought up all the shutter time for IKONOS when National Imagery Mapping Agency bought up all the shutter time.  Just to give you an order of scale here, 30 years ago I think there were around 250 satellites and half of those were military and the other half were scientific and engineering. There were very few commercial satellites. Today there are more than 1,000 satellites and half of those are military. Two hundred and fifty are scientific and engineering, and there are more than 250 commercial satellites that have a range of applications, which we use and sometimes our friends and adversaries use to get imagery of various types. So the ability to control not only military but also commercial applications is very important. 

Q: Describe the Armyâ??s information operations activities in the war.

A: From the beginning, information operations have been a part of this war on terrorism and information operations is one of those new mission areas that all commanders have to consider. It involves ensuring that we have access to information and can deny or control our adversaryâ??s use of information.

In this war on terrorism, for the first time, USCINCSPACE has deployed a Space and Information Operations Forward Element in support of Gen. Tommy Frankâ??s US CENTCOM. No single CINC has the mission of information operations.  Information operations is a cross-cutting area that deals with everything from psychological operations to civil affairs to space control to computer network operations, and there is no one person in charge. But CINCSPACE decided that he would fill the void. He offered to stand up a Space and Information Operations Element under the J-3 for Gen. Franks if he would want that. He said yes. For the first time, all these pieces were put together in a formal sense and the director of this Space and Information Operations Element (Forward) was a one-star Air Force general. In that one element, they synchronized all these activities that I was talking about. As you develop an operations plan, the operations plan has the normal intelligence piece and those kinetic kill pieces where you try to find and destroy. Also, now this element adds a new piece, called information operations, to this plan. With it Gen. Franks was able to, at the same time, drop humanitarian supplies and use Commander Solo aircraft to talk to the indigenous population, while he was trying to find the Taliban and Al Quaeda and destroy them with kinetic munitions. All that was happening at the same time. As I mentioned, space control was a part of that too-denying them the use of any space-based assets whether it was getting pictures from IKONOS satellites or denying them the use of any satellite communication that they might have, such as cellular phones, etc. Also, the CINC stood up a space and information operations rear element in Colorado Springs to support the one that was deployed with Gen. Franks and the other CINCs worldwide if they needed information operations support. I think it was a success story and really is a glimpse into war fighting of the future.

Q:  Will the importance of space-based operations increase as the Army transitions to the Objective Force?

A: The Army is designing this fleet of future combat systems that will be apart of our objective force. We will start filling those future combat systems at the end of this decade and move into this era called the objective forceâ??a lighter, more deployable and sustainable forceâ??and space is key to that. In the future, things like space-based radar, space-based infrared programs-both high and low-WIDEBAND, which is a wide band communications systems, and [GAPFILLER is a] space-based soldier system that is an experiment to try to provide space information directly to an individual warfighter. These are all programs being looked at to support the family of future combat systems that make up the objective force.

Q: Can we touch on the Mobile Tactical High-Energy Laser (THEL) program? Whatâ??s going on there and whereâ??s the funding?

A: The Mobile THEL is the next phase of THEL development for the Israelis. The service has asked for that funding as a part of its budget request. We think itâ??s going to be supported. In the past, most of the dollars we have for those programs were dollars that were provided by congressional plus-ups, but now we have our service and OSD convinced there is some utility [there]. Now itâ??s part of the Presidentâ??s budget.

Q: What is the status of the Advanced Tactical Laser? Is it funded or in the appropriations?

A: This is part of whatâ??s called an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration and it really has multiservice interest. Weâ??ve awarded a contract to Boeing to get at this concept definition and so weâ??re trying to do a set of experiments to see if this advanced tactical laser has utility. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has recently issued a program decision memorandum to fund this program, called Advance Tactical Laser, which is a chemical oxygen iodine laser mounted on a platform. Theyâ??ve told the Special Operations Command to take the responsibility for this and to provide the funding for the ATM program. The interesting thing is weâ??re providing the technical advice for Special Operations Command.

Q: What role could direct energy play in the future of fighting vehicle programs?

A: One of the roles is it can be used in an air-defense mode. We think that possibly the solid state heat capacity laser may have that capability. Weâ??re trying to design some of our platforms that have hybrid-electric capabilities so if we were able to solve some of our engineering problems out at our High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility and build the diodes and the beam director and all these pieces that are small enough to fit on this 20x platform, that will be our future platform. Then you can see that you would be able to power those diodes with this hybrid-electric power from the platform and youâ??d solve one of the major issues that weâ??ve had with high-energy lasersâ??its power source. We believe that when we make and develop an air defense capability that it would be able to shoot down cruise missiles, UAVâ??s, rockets, and [mortar rounds]â??those kinds of things. There may be some utility for high-powered microwaves in the future for non-lethal applications. Weâ??re looking at all those applications.

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