When U.S. Strategic Command split its component organization for space and global strike into two separate groups last year the goal was to provide additional focus on each mission.
Space is so critical to the missions of all of the Joint Functional Component Commands (JFCCs) that it made sense to have a single JFCC dedicated to the space mission, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, commander of the JFCC-Global Strike Integration (GSI).
Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, former commander of Strategic Command, established the JFCCs in 2005 to handle the day-to-day aspects of space and global strike; missile defense; network warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. He also established
a Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction. Putting the JFCCs in charge of operations
gave Cartwright more time to focus on strategic-level planning and advocacy. Cartwright now serves as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During a Sept. 14 interview, Elder said
security constraints prevent him from
discussing publicly the details of how his group and the other JFCCs work with JFCC-Space – and in fact, many other details about the work of the JFCC-GSI. However, he said that it is hard to recall instances when
JFCC-Space was not part of an operation that his organization coordinates. “Just about everything we do has some kind of a tie with JFCC-Space,” Elder said.
Elder acknowledged that the close working relationship with JFCC-Space could beg the question: Why did Strategic Command elect to split the former JFCC-Space and Global Strike into separate organizations? However, keeping them together could have made it difficult to give space the needed attention, Elder said.
Splitting the former JFCC-Space and Global Strike into separate groups also has allowed
Elder to devote more attention to coordinating the work of the various JFCCs, a responsibility
that now resides with JFCC-GSI. Elder said
the JFCC-GSI ideally works
on behalf of the other JFCCs to provide them with the information
they need and prevent conflicts in
operations, rather than directing their work.
Without such integration “one activity can get in the way of another,” Elder said.
In some cases an action taken by one JFCC could affect another adversely, Elder said. For example, if one JFCC recommended moving an asset out of a particular theater of operations, it
could affect the work of another JFCC in that area, he said.
One step that the JFCC has taken recently to improve its coordination work is the establishment of the Stratcom Information Operations Center at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The center, which began operations in June, provides a coordinated channel for the various JFCCs to receive information from the intelligence community, Elder said. The center works with the officials dealing with intelligence matters at each JFCC to ensure that the intelligence community meets their requirements, he said. The center also conducts operational assessments, and looks for gaps or shortfalls in intelligence capabilities that may be important to the JFCCs, Elder said.
The JFCC-GSI has
a 2007 budget of more than $38 million, and expects that figure to grow to more than
$40 million in 2008, according to Air Force Maj. Thomas Knowles, a spokesman for Strategic Command.
400 authorized billets, 98 percent of which currently are filled, said Navy Lt. Denver Applehans, another spokesman for Strategic Command.
While the JFCC-GSI is located with Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt, Elder is based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where he serves also as commander of the 8th Air Force and the Air Force’s new Cyberspace Command.
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James F. Caldwell serves as Elder’s deputy, working on site at Offutt.
Elder noted that wearing three hats can be a handful, but said it also allows for a certain degree of synergy. Having a single official in charge of the 8th Air Force and the JFCC-
GSI gives the commander of Strategic Command a way to gain knowledge about what is happening in the air in the various theaters of operations around the world through
the 8th Air Force’s connection to the air operations centers in those areas, he said.
While Strategic Command maintains its long-standing mission of deterring attacks against U.S. territory and overseas bases through the looming threat of its nuclear arsenal, the JFCC-GSI works to provide other options for deterring an attack as well, Elder said. Elder said he could not talk about specifics, but noted that another element of deterrence can be demonstrating to enemies that a potential method of attack against the United States will not cripple its ability to continue fighting.
also can aid the deterrence mission by helping the Pentagon illustrate to enemies the broader consequences of a potential action. In a hypothetical future situation where an enemy might want to test an anti-satellite weapon, as China did in January, the JFCC can help provide information and analysis that would show how such a test would have negative consequences for a variety of nations, including the one conducting the test, with the creation of space debris that could harm satellites, he said.
In the event that a global strike is
needed, the JFCC-GSI’s
job is to ensure that nuclear missiles are not the only option on the table. In addition to conventional weapons, the JFCC provides options for non-kinetic strike methods.
Non-kinetic methods, which often involve disrupting the flow of information to an adversary,
likely will become increasingly used in the years to come, as people all over the world become more and more dependent on electronic networks that require radio frequency spectrum to communicate, Elder said. That spectrum is becoming so important to the daily functioning of societies that nations potentially could fight over it in the future in the same way that they have fought over water rights in the past, Elder said.
Other items on Elder’s agenda in recent months have included helping Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who the Pentagon tapped in July to take over as commander of Strategic Command, prepare for his new job.
Coordinating military operations for U.S. Strategic Command; synchronizing global strike and deterrence capabilities
U.S. Strategic Command
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder
U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James F. Caldwell
Created in 2005 as part of JFCC-Space and Global Strike; separated in 2006 and renamed JFCC-GSI
Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Neb.; Cruise Missile Support Agencies in Hawaii and Virginia
More than $38 million in 2007; expected to be more than $40 million in 2008