Press Release

Space shapes today’s front lines

By SpaceRef Editor
January 5, 2007
Filed under , ,

by Staff Sgt. Monte Volk,
U.S. Central Command Air Forces

1/4/2007 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) — Its existence is only acknowledged by its
absence. It doesn’t attract attention, yet it changes our behavior. It is there
without asking; thus it is often taken for granted. Theater space operators put
the power of space at the fingertips of warfighters.

“We are combat integrators,” said Maj. Troy Endicott of the Combined Air
Operations Center director of space forces staff. “We take space down that last
tactical mile.”

Space assets typically provided strategic surveillance behind the Iron Curtain
during the Cold War. A little more than a decade later, theater space operators
use space assets to support a range of tactical missions including
communications, navigation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance: keys
to victory for today’s war fighter.

“Today, space is a critical integrator and enabler on the modern battlefield and
the operators are not just Airmen,” Major Endicott said.

At the division level or higher, about 90 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines
work to integrate space at the operational and tactical levels of war.

“This group of theater space specialists operates at key echelons to merge space
into combat operations and strengthen coordination between theater and global
space organizations,” Major Endicott said.

The Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia is the primary command and
control node for theater space operations. More than a dozen space
professionals, including the director of space forces, work in the strategy, the
planning and the operations divisions to integrate space at all levels.

“We contribute to (the war on terrorism) by providing GPS satellite navigational
accuracy to precision weapons,” said Staff Sgt. Cristina Kavanagh, a CAOC space
duty technician, deployed from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. “We also run GPS
predictions for resupply missions which use air drop systems such as JPADS
(joint precision aerial delivery system) to precisely airdrop supplies at
forward-operating bases.”

The supplies are critical to the warfighters on the frontlines. Space also lends
a hand in protecting and rescuing warfighters in need by listening for survival
radios to help locate injured or missing personnel.

“We must be faithful to our fallen comrades,” Sergeant Kavanagh said. “(We also
must) warn and protect American and coalition forces and innocent bystanders
from missile threats.”

The director of space forces is the senior space advisor to the Combined Forces
Air Component commander and executes the CFACC’s day-to-day theater space
coordination duties.

The director advises the CFACC on space employment and how to integrate space
into the CAOC processes from drafting operations plans to detailing space
effects in specific tasking orders. He also works to strengthen theater space
coordination and planning across all U.S. Central Command components and task
forces.

To do this, they integrate new technologies, like the Talon NAMATH GPS
enhancement system, that have a direct contribution to the warfighters on the
ground. The Talon NAMATH system is employed with the Air Force’s newest
precision weapon, the guided bomb unit-39 or small diameter bomb.

“Talon NAMATH boosts the bomb’s accuracy, thereby reducing the chance for
collateral damage,” Major Endicott said.

Theater space professionals have made great strides to deliver space effects to
forces throughout operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“By coordinating all joint theater space operations and integrating space into
the fight, we are establishing the precedence on how space effects will be
provided to U.S. and coalition forces for the next decade,” said Col. Jay
Raymond, the director of space forces.

SpaceRef staff editor.