WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Command announced Nov. 15 it is adding a new component to its organization to help coordinate operations and speed up the delivery of satellite-based services to military forces in the field.
The new organization, called Combined Joint Task Force-Space Operations (CJTF-SO), marks another step in the evolution of the U.S. military’s space enterprise, officials said.
“To outpace our strategic competitor, the People’s Republic of China, I am rapidly building the command to compete and win in the space domain, deter aggression from extending to space, and, when necessary, prevail in conflict,” said Gen. James Dickinson, head of U.S. Space Command.
U.S. Space Command, located at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, is a military combatant command responsible for operations in outer space
The CJTF-SO will serve as a bridge between the command’s headquarters and its two large field organizations; the Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; and the Joint Task Force Space Defense (JTF-SD) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
The CFSCC ensures space capabilities such as GPS navigation and satellite-based communications are available to U.S. commanders and allied nations. It also runs an operations center where U.S. and allied personnel track objects and activities in space.
The JTF-SD, a joint military and intelligence community unit, runs the classified National Space Defense Center, and tracks potential threats to satellites in orbit.
The former commander of the JTF-SD Maj. Gen. Thomas James will temporarily run the new task force until a permanent three-star commander is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
“Moving forward, the establishment of CJTF-SO will ensure unity of effort among the functional components’ operations while USSPACECOM’s headquarters staff focuses on achieving national security objectives,” James said in a statement.
The CFSCC and JTF-SD field units will report to the CJTF-SO. This is intended to create “unity of effort between operations and intelligence, allied, and commercial partners,” he said.
The CJTF-SO will form a headquarters staff of about 125 personnel from across the military services, Maj. Gen. Brook Leonard, CJTF-SO director of operations, told SpaceNews.
“With a growing and developing threat, the standup of Space Command, the standup of a Space Force, we’re continuing to mature the space enterprise organizations across the DoD,” said Leonard.
What has been missing is the “operational integration and warfighting focus that space needed, the layer between strategic and tactical,” he said.
“We needed a dedicated organization to look at competition and conflict and lead those endeavors,” Leonard said. The new task force will help create a culture where “it’s everybody’s job to protect and defend, and deliver those space capabilities.”