U.S. Army Col. Joseph Guzman speaking Aug. 16 at the 2016 Space and Missile Defense Symposium at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: Eric Schultz / Rocket City Photo

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Space and Missile Defense Symposium formally kicked off Tuesday morning (Aug. 16)  when Army Col. Joe Guzman made the case for the service to play a greater role in Defense Department space operations.

Guzman, who leads the Army’s strategic plans and policy efforts for space at the Pentagon, said the Army adopted a new policy in June that calls for the service to contribute to the Defense Department’s space capabilities and not just use the capabilities provided. The Air Force generally builds and operates the Defense Department’s most expensive space systems, but the Army is often referred to as those systems largest user. The June update marked the first revision to the Army space policy since 2009, he said.

“It’s completely within [the Army’s] lane to lead space operations,” he said.

While the Army is still a long ways from flying its own satellite constellations, Guzman said, the service “must make its voice heard on next-generation systems.” He noted the Army has a seat on the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, a key Pentagon acquisition review board that helps shape national security space programs.

In the meantime, Guzman said the Army must learn to operate in a more contested space environment where enemies have jammed GPS and communications satellites by training for those scenarios. Just as the military prepares to operate in an area where chemical weapons have been used, the Army needs to be able to “operate through” such situations that “replicate the effects of counterspace weapons.”

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.