JFCC Space completes Exercise Global Thunder 17

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Joint Functional Component Command for Space completed participating in Exercise Global Thunder 17, an annual command post and field training exercise, Oct. 31.

U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), in coordination with U.S. and partner nation government agencies, conducted the exercise, which began Oct. 24, to train USSTRATCOM forces and assess joint operational readiness across all the command’s Unified Command Plan-assigned mission areas.

The notional scenario for Global Thunder 2017 drove integrated planning and training in response to a number of strategic threats to the nation. The exercise tests the resilience, redundancy and survivability of U.S. strategic deterrent forces by stressing USSTRATCOM capabilities provided to geographic combatant commanders during a crisis or contingency.

“The scenario afforded USSTRATCOM’s headquarters staff, component commands and partners opportunities to validate existing operational plans and procedures while developing and testing innovative approaches for addressing complex and uncertain global security challenges,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, USSTRATCOM director of global operations. “Global Thunder 17 also provided us a chance to increase our interoperability between each of the combatant commands involved as well as our interagency partners and allies.”

For JFCC Space, Global Thunder 17 provided opportunities to exercise its ability to deliver synchronized space effects through a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment.

“Consistent with our National Space Policy, we stand ready to deter interference or attack, protect and defend our space systems and contribute to the defense of allied systems, and, if necessary, defeat efforts to deny, disrupt or degrade our access to the vital space capabilities upon which the entire world relies," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Buck, JFCC Space commander.

Building on the success of previous exercises, JFCC Space continued to expand the role of the Commercial Integration Cell in exercise play. Operating through six Cooperative Research and Development Agreements under the oversight of the Air Force Research Laboratory, the CIC is a method of pursuing greater cooperation and synergy in the space environment by integrating liaison personnel from the commercial space operator sector within the Joint Space Operations Center.

“As a fully embedded mission partner the CIC can facilitate rapid identification, diagnosis and resolution of on-orbit anomalies while also increasing the overall resilience of USG satellite operations,” said Buck.

During Global Thunder 17 the CIC provided crucial industry perspective and access to capabilities that increased the efficacy and resiliency of JFCC Space operations.

JFCC Space also used the exercise to pursue more robust allied partnerships. For the second time in a Global-series exercise, the Director General Space, Canadian Armed Forces, embedded in the Joint Space Operations Center. Canadian Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Blaise Frawley spent the majority of the exercise working side-by-side with U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brian Brown, JFCC Space deputy commander.

“Having General Frawley on-station for the exercise was invaluable,” said Brown. “Allied partnerships are critical components of our national security space enterprise, and the ability to exercise with our Canadian allies in real-time was a big win for us.”

Global Thunder 17 also marked the first time the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) participated in exercise. Created to foster unity of effort between the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, this joint and interagency center is responsible for the space defense mission. By partnering with co-located IC elements to aid on-orbit activity characterization and provide enhanced Indications and Warning, the JICSpOC enables complimentary DoD and IC space operations and better unity of effort in response to threats across diverse space communities.

“Adding JICSpOC to the mix really elevated the level of coordination with our interagency and IC partners,” said Buck, “and enabled us to enhance unity of effort in the space defense arena.”

“I am extremely proud of the effort put forth by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, DoD civilians and contractors who comprise this command, as well as our partners across the USG and our allies, as we all work toward the common goal of ensuring the joint and coalition warfighter, and the world writ large, never have to know a day without space,” Buck said.

JFCC Space is a component of USSTRATCOM and is responsible for executing continuous, integrated space operations to deliver theater and global effects in support of national and combatant commander objectives. JFCC Space coordinates space operational-level planning, integration, and coordination to ensure unity of effort in support of military and national security operations, and support to civil authorities.