AUSA NEWS: Army Outlines Strategic Priorities for Space Capabilities

By Mandy Mayfield

Photo: iStock

The Army is crafting a new space strategy focused on four key aspects of warfighting, a modernization leader said Oct 16.

The mission areas include: communication; positioning, navigation and timing; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; battle management and command and control, said Willie Nelson, director of the Army's positioning, navigation and timing cross-functional team. The PNT team is one of eight cross-functional teams that the service has established to spearhead its top modernization priorities. 

The U.S. military now considers space to be a warfighting domain on par with land, air, sea and cyberspace. The space strategy initiative began approximately 18 months ago when then-Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville asked the PNT cross-functional team to develop a synchronized and integrated roadmap to guide the service's space strategy, Nelson said during the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

“We did that, presented that to the boss, had a series of funded and unfunded activities which are now all fully funded,” and then decided on the four main strategic focus areas, Nelson said.

For communications, the service is looking to move beyond its current capabilities by leveraging commercial constellations of small satellites in both low- and medium-Earth orbit, said Joseph Welch, deputy program executive officer for command, control and communications.

“We're highly reliant on geosynchronous satellites that are providing us relatively low bandwidth compared to everything else that exists in the commercial world and at very high latency,” he said.

The service is planning to integrate low- and medium-Earth orbit satellite terminals to beef up its tactical network capability. It hopes to have prototype capabilities available by 2023, according to Welch's presentation slides.

For the positioning, navigation and timing component of the strategy, the Army wants to develop technology that would allow warfighters to have situational awareness and access to weapon systems in places where GPS signals could be jammed, Nelson said.

For ISR, the strategy includes using high-altitude sensors to collect data that could be passed to commanders and troops on the battlefield. 

Robust command-and-control capabilities are needed. "Without that, you've just got a lot of really cool space [technology] up there," Nelson said. The strategy will address "how do you bring it all together in an integrated, synchronized battle management system the warfighter can use," he added.

The Army is also cooperating with the Pentagon's Space Development Agency as it seeks capabilities to locate time-sensitive ground targets.

The aim is to have "the ability to detect and track and maintain custody of many things .... and be able to actually get a targeted fire control solution to a weapon in the field, in real-time, anywhere on the globe at any time,” said Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency. "We are working very closely with the Army to make sure that we’re tied together," he added.

Topics: Army News, Space

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