Space Force Grappling How to Define Readiness

 In U.S. Air Force, Defense, Cyber/ICT, Air, Space, Forces & Capabilities, Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste

The U.S. Space Force is trying to figure out what “readi­ness” means for space oper­a­tions, seek­ing to sever itself from the Air Force’s air­craft- and deploy­ment-cen­tric model.

The Air Force’s Air and Space Expeditionary Force model doesn’t work as a mea­sure of Space Force readi­ness, Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, deputy chief of space oper­a­tions for oper­a­tions, cyber, and nuclear, said in an AFA Mitchell Institute vir­tu­al event Oct. 16.

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Video: Mitchell Institute on YouTube

Mission capa­ble rates and other tra­di­tion­al mea­sures of readi­ness don’t trans­late to Space Force, Saltzman said.

“Readiness is that term of art to express: can you do your mis­sion or not?” he observed. He said he was about to take a brief­ing on readi­ness and expect­ed to be “under­whelmed,” because “quite frankly, we took a system that was pri­mar­i­ly designed to show how Air Force expe­di­tionary units made them­selves ready for deploy­ment or a high-end fight, and we tried to make that system work for Space Force,” which usu­al­ly oper­ates from gar­ri­son and is doing its mis­sion every day.

Readiness assess­ments “never had the same flavor because we never had to pick up and go some­where and join in a fight,” he said. Today, it boils down to, “do you have enough people to man your con­soles 24 hours a day? That is one small, but impor­tant piece, of what readi­ness is” for Space Force.

The new ser­vice is trying to deter­mine what will decide if its orga­ni­za­tions are ready, in the form of the advanced train­ing, exer­cis­es, and “expe­ri­ences they need to be ready … on-orbit, against a near-peer com­peti­tor.”

The “day-to-day” won’t change, Saltzman said, “but I want to make sure we’re cap­tur­ing the broad­er advanced train­ing, oper­a­tional test, [tac­tics, tech­niques, and pro­ce­dures] devel­op­ments, and enhance­ments … All the things we’ve learned it takes to be truly ready for the high-end fight.”

“We have to under­stand the space mis­sion dif­fer­ent­ly,” he added.

Space Force must do the bal­anc­ing act of being unpre­dictable while at the same time not spook­ing adver­saries into think­ing an attack is under­way, Saltzman said.

“You want to be provoca­tive, unpre­dictable, so that you can kind of keep your com­peti­tors … off bal­ance, and at the same time demon­strate norms of behav­ior that we would call ‘safe,’” he said. The ter­res­tri­al analo­gies would be “safe inter­cepts … in the air world, and the laws of the sea that keep people safe over the waters. In an ideal world, that’s what we would want to pursue.”

Once every agrees to safe prac­tices and norms in space it will be easier to iden­ti­fy nefar­i­ous activ­i­ty, Saltzman said. For now, he added, it’s “hard to tell if some­thing is provoca­tive, an act of war, or just sloppy behav­ior, or maybe oper­a­tor error.”

Air Force Magazine source|articles

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