Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike
When U.S. Strategic Command began reorganizing in 2005 to coordinate all the new missions it inherited at its creation three years earlier, its organization dedicated to space operations emerged as the key to helping Strategic Command’s widely dispersed and disparate organizations work as one. The Joint Functional Component Command (JFCC) for Space and Global Strike is specifically responsible for coordinating the collaboration between the other JFCCs that were established in January 2005, according to U.S. Navy Rear Adm. David Philman, deputy commander of Space and Global Strike JFCC.
Lt. Gen. Kevin Chilton, Philman’s boss and the organization’s commander, heads a coordinating board that allows the leaders of each of the JFCC’s to interact at a senior level. Chilton wears a second hat as well, serving as the commander of the 8th Air Force.
After taking over at Strategic Command in 2004, Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright created the concepts for the JFCCs as he looked for ways to improve Strategic Command’s operations based on commercial business models.
The other JFCCs are: Integrated Missile Defense; Network Warfare; and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. Also included in the mix is a planning cell at Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., for issues related to weapons of mass destruction.
The JFCC for Space and Global Strike is headquartered at Strategic Command in Omaha. Supporting organizations for space activities include the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is run by the 14th Air Force, and the Department of Defense Manned Space Flight Support Office at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
Strike activities are supported by the Air Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana; the Joint Information Operations Center in San Antonio, Texas; and Cruise Missile Support Activities Atlantic and Pacific, which are headquartered in Norfolk, Va., and Camp Smith, Hawaii respectively.
The JFCCs are intended to help break with traditional vertically integrated, chain-of-command-style decision making at Strategic Command, which plays a supporting role in countless military missions, Philman said in a Jan. 11 interview.
In keeping with the business model they try to emulate, Stratcom’s JFCC commanders refer to the military organizations that rely on them to provide all of the logistical support that is required for a major military operation anywhere in the world, as their customers.
And while some of those customers have given positive reviews about the end results, some officials involved with the Space and Global Strike JFCC have had a difficult time adjusting to the change in the way things are done, Philman said.
Those officials have spent their careers making decisions through the traditional vertical military chain of command and are not yet comfortable with the more horizontal, collaborative method of the JFCC, he said.
“Some of the older folks who have been around for a long time have been taken out of their comfort zone.”
Finding the right people to staff up the organization is also a challenge, Philman said. The Space and Global Strike JFCC is authorized to have more than 400 employees, according to a command fact sheet, but is still working on filling more than 100 of those positions, Philman said.
Even when those positions are filled, Cartwright is hoping that the new command structure and modern technology will enable all of the command’s JFCCs to perform their work with fewer people than they traditionally have, Philman said. One area where industry can help the command is to develop new tools like software that can help foster collaborative planning, he said.
Despite the emphasis on virtual connectivity, some in-person contact is needed, Philman said. Chilton has been traveling to meet with officials from the various military combatant commands around the world to help them understand the types of capabilities that the Space and Global Strike JFCC can bring to the table, Philman said.
Those capabilities range from satellite communications to surveillance of objects in space, Philman said. Most space operations are handled by the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force, he said. With the collaboration between the JFCCs, the global strike capabilities may look far different than they have in the past, Philman said.
One example is the destruction of enemy air defenses. Philman, who has flown more than 4,500 hours in tactical jet aircraft, noted that the Pentagon has traditionally used bomber aircraft to destroy air defense systems to clear the way for further U.S. air strikes.
However, the JFCC for Space and Global Strike could work together with its sister organizations to coordinate an attack on the computer networks used by the enemy air defense systems, preventing the use of those weapons without expending ordnance or causing additional casualties, Philman said.
“Without blowing up a building or killing people, you can still achieve a military effect,” Philman said.
Officials with the JFCC for Space and Global Strike spent much of their first year developing the concept of operations for the command and writing various supporting documents, a process that remains ongoing, Philman said.
These concepts were put to the test during an event called Global Lightening, an annual Strategic Command-sponsored command and control training exercise intended to test and validate the ability of Strategic Command and its components to deter a military attack against the United States, according to a Strategic Command news release dated Dec. 1.
During the exercise, Strategic Command officials worked with their counterparts at places like European Command and Special Operations Command to examine how they will work together for the command and control of conventional and nuclear forces, Philman said. This will help Strategic Command better define the responsibilities for the officials within the JFCCs, he said.
Based on the JFCC for Space and Global Strike’s performance in the exercise, Strategic Command declared the organization now has initial operational capability.
“The declaration of [initial operational capability] for the Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike marks an important step in the continued strengthening of the nation’s defense,” Chilton said in the news release.
The Global Lightening exercise may have helped convince skeptics of the efficacy of the JFCC concept, Philman said.
“There were naysayers, but Global Lightening showed that it’s possible,” Philman said.