SPACE

I/ITSEC NEWS: Training, Simulations Still a ‘New Frontier’ for Space Force

11/29/2023
By Laura Heckmann

ORLANDO — As a relatively new service, the U.S. Space Force has a unique path to forge when grappling with how the evolving world of training and simulations will help it achieve its missions, a senior service officer said.

The Air Force’s Operational Test and Training Infrastructure is the service’s vision for a realistic and integrated operational training environment, focused on achieving aircrew readiness. What that looks like for the Space Force is still forming, Brig. Gen. Todd Moore, deputy commander of Space Training and Readiness Command, also known as Starcom, said.

The infrastructure is “going to be the place where we’re going to figure out how we need to do our operations in this new domain we’re in,” speaking at a panel discussion at the National Training and Simulation Association’s Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference in Orlando on Nov. 28.

The Space Force in May chose Orlando as Starcom’s headquarters, partially because of its proximity to launch facilities, and partially because of the region’s reputation as a hub for the modeling and simulation industry, a Space Force statement said.

The service’s use of modeling and simulation so far has been somewhat limited, Moore said, but it has room to grow. It could help the Space Force’s understanding of the unknown, he added.

“There are a lot of things we don't know,” Moore said. “I've already hinted that we're learning a lot. There’s gonna be a lot of things we don't know. There's gonna be a lot of things we're going to pursue that will be dead ends, but we'll learn something from it and we'll move on to something else.”

Modeling and simulation, he said, “is going to give us that opportunity to do that, and hopefully smarter and faster.”

A problem the Space Force currently has with modeling and simulation is that it is, by and large, physics-based modeling of the region, he said.

“Which is great, but if I'm not doing the kinematic performance, if I'm not doing the spectral performance, if I'm not looking at all the other elements that are potentially part of a kill web or a kill chain that inform the performance of a thing, I might come to some really bad conclusions.”

The service has plenty of visualization of the physics domain, he said. What it needs is “good partnerships with industry to help me be smarter about the requirements that I write so that you're able to produce a good product. We're going to have to learn shoulder to shoulder on this issue.”

There are a lot of space simulators that “really do a great task training, great orientation, to just being able to maintain the space capability, but have very little tactical relevance.” Tactical activity is “very much focused on maintenance, very stovepiped, very much designed for an uncontested environment.”

As the Space Force looks to integrate simulators into its training environment, Moore said what it really needs from industry is advanced training capabilities that are tactically dynamic, “being able to have that replication of the adversary, doing more than just physics representation of space, but getting after the kinematic modeling, the spectrum modeling, the electromagnetic modeling, and being able to produce that as if we were in the space domain, actually operating there.”

Moore said the Space Force is not looking for perfection when it comes to advancing its training techniques, but “just trying to go for how much can we learn and how much can we move because we're up against the clock.”

“But that is something we have not had a need for in the past,” he added. “And so we are now on that precipice where we're looking over going, we've got to go have this and we need to have a place where we can … really measure performance, where we really can do tactics development with something other than PowerPoint, which is not an analytical tool.”

Orbital warfare is going to be “distinctly different” from cyber and electronic warfare, which means training will look different, as well. But all domains still have to work together, he said. “They have to be in sync with each other. It has to be part of a … maneuver in support of a combatant command.”

Additional training challenges facing the Space Force include security and interconnectivity, he said. Space capabilities are “inherently fragile. If I demonstrate what they can do and they are observable, I compromised that capability,” he added.

Being able to collect data on a classified network is another challenge, he said. “I need to be able to route it to where I need it and be able to take it apart, analyze it, put it back together, change variables and produce a product. That's another significant one as well.”

Thirdly, and most significantly, he said, is the simple fact that a war has never been fought in space.

“This is brand new, and God forbid, right? I mean, there's nothing more we want than competition and deterrence. But we really don't know what this looks like yet.”

Investments are being made in analysis and requirements development, but “there are a lot of assumptions in what we're choosing to invest in, simply because we have never done it,” he added.

Topics: Training and Simulation

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