TRAINING AND SIMULATION
I/ITSEC NEWS: STARCOM Weighing More Live Training
Space Force photo
ORLANDO, Florida — Space Force's guardians may need more live and crew-based training, the leader of Space Training and Readiness Command said Nov. 29.
Founded in 2021 as the field command for training, education and testing within the Space Force, STARCOM is currently working to build up the capabilities of the National Space Test and Training Complex where guardians can “get some reps and sets in,” said Commander Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton.
The space domain presents a unique set of training challenges because warfighters do not physically fight in space, Bratton said during the opening ceremony at the National Training and Simulation Association's annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando. NTSA is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association.
“In air, land and sea domains, you can train in those environments … you can go to sea, you can put the aircraft in the air,” he said. “Unless you're one of just a handful that becomes an astronaut, no guardian is ever going to go into the domain. So, the experience of the domain is always done virtually, is always done remotely. And so that’s the first challenge … how do you explain the domain when you can’t put the person into it?”
Because of this, most guardians have traditionally trained for space operations via simulation and never actually operated spacecraft until they joined their operational units, Bratton said.
As the Space Force looks to quickly increase readiness, the service is weighing conducting more live training, he said. However, measuring the value of simulation versus live training is a challenge, he added.
“It’s something we’re certainly thinking through and looking for help on is .. if I put a guardian in a simulator, simulator, simulator and then put them on the [operations] floor live to fly GPS or communications satellite or any of the space capabilities, is that the best preparation? Or is it better if, in training, they do some of those live activities?” he said.
STARCOM's leadership is working through "how much live training do we move back into STARCOM’s lane so that I can deliver to the Space Operations Command just the most prepared crew force that they can have," he said.
Space training going forward also must involve more crew-based activities that reflect how the Space Force operates satellite constellations, Bratton said. For example, the command could take some lessons from the Navy on "how do you train as a crew that operates a single vehicle — or in our case, a constellation of spacecraft."
"None of our spacecraft are operated by a single individual, it's always a crew that sits. And we bring all three disciplines together — space, cyber and intelligence together — to operate the spacecraft or constellations. … In some cases, we're training too much the individuals and not enough of the crew force,” he said.