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Space Flag holds first exercise with coalition partners

Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, joins senior space military leaders from the U.S., Australia, Canada and Great Britain, as part of Space Flag’s first exercise with coalition partners, Aug. 16, 2019. Space Flag is an Air Force Space Command-sponsored exercise focused on using current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain. Space Flag is one of many AFSPC efforts to expand its cooperation with Allied partners in joint, coalition space education and training opportunities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Grim)

Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, joins senior space military leaders from the U.S., Australia, Canada and Great Britain, as part of Space Flag’s first exercise with coalition partners, Aug. 16, 2019. Space Flag is an Air Force Space Command-sponsored exercise focused on using current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain. Space Flag is one of many AFSPC efforts to expand its cooperation with Allied partners in joint, coalition space education and training opportunities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Grim)

Coalition partners from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States join Space Flag’s first coalition exercise, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aug. 12-16, 2019. Space Flag 19-3 integrated its Allied partners in Air Force Space Command’s “Fight Tonight” exercise focused on using current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain. (Courtesy photo)

Coalition partners from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States join Space Flag’s first coalition exercise, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aug. 12-16, 2019. Space Flag 19-3 integrated its Allied partners in Air Force Space Command’s “Fight Tonight” exercise focused on using current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain. (Courtesy photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --

Coalition partners from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the United States recently participated in a Space Flag exercise for the first time at Aerospace Corporation’s facility here, Aug. 12-16, 2019.

Space Flag 19-3 integrated approximately 160 coalition participants, observers and distinguished guests in Air Force Space Command’s “Fight Tonight” exercise focused on using current capabilities to deter, deny and disrupt adversarial actions in the space domain.

U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson and each participating nations’ top space military leaders met with Space Flag personnel to learn more about the exercise and its criticality in training warfighters in the space domain.

“The threat in space is real, and we must train like we fight – alongside our international partners – to maintain space superiority and deter conflict in the space domain,” said Wilson after meeting with Space Flag players.

SF 19-3 brought new challenges and opportunities to learn from coalition partners, who were chosen based on their current positions through existing agreements with the 21st Space Wing, 460th Space Wing and Combined Space Operations Center.

“The coalition forces brought a different perspective that forced everyone to think outside our typical way of doing things as we integrated intelligence in space packages throughout mission planning.” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Johnson, NCO in charge, 20th Space Control Squadron Intelligence Operations. “As we brainstormed response methods, no idea was discounted, which speaks to the professionalism of each player.”

“Being able to participate in the first ever coalition Space Flag was a privilege,” said Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt. Gene Elliott, Chief of Training, 460th Operations Support Squadron. “It was a great opportunity to bring our perspectives and talents to the fight given Australia’s relative infancy in the warfighting domain of space.”

The senior space representatives agreed SF 19-3 was a critical move to normalize coalition training opportunities with junior and mid-level officers and enlisted members.

“Space Flag is a fantastic opportunity for the U.K. to participate and expand its role in future exercises,” said Royal Air Force Group Capt. Steve Blockley, Director of National Air Defence and Space Operations. “Just as we do for operators in the air, land and sea domains, this is a chance for our space operators to work alongside Allies and create partnerships that will last throughout their entire careers.”

Royal Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. Kevin Whale, the Director General and Component Commander for Space, spoke on Canada’s lasting partnership with the U.S. and how he sees Canada’s future participation in Space Flag.

"Canada has a long history of collaboration with the U.S. in space under NORAD and, more recently, the expanding and multinational Combined Space Operations initiative,” said Whale. “Our integrated participation in Space Flag this year is a welcomed evolution of our collaboration that directly contributes to our shared interests in space."

Royal Australian Air Force Air Commodore Robert Denney, Director General for Air Operations, said, “Space Flag is a great opportunity to build-up the space cadre unlike we’ve done before with our Allies.”

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, HQ AFSPC Director of Operations and Communications, briefed Space Flag’s plan to expand its cooperation with Allied partners in future exercises amid AFSPC’s broader initiative to include international partners in joint, coalition space education and training opportunities, such as Schriever Space Scholars, AFSPC Weapons and Tactics Conference, Space 300 and Schriever Wargame, among others.

“All operators here understand what warfighting means in the space domain,” said Burt. “They are energized and motivated to continue these friendships and partnerships they’ve built over the course of this exercise, and we must continue building on these types of opportunities for the defense of the space domain.”

Other coalition space opportunities include the following:

SCHRIEVER SPACE SCHOLARS

This year, the Schriever Space Scholars Program enrolled its first international student, a space officer from France, and plans to incorporate additional international students in the coming years.

Schriever Space Scholars is the nation’s first year-long, space-centric intermediate-level education program dedicated to developing space strategists for the nation. Sponsored by AFSPC, the program combines the time-tested warfighting curriculum of Air Command and Staff College, War Theory, International Studies, and Joint Warfighting courses, with space-focused classes that offer deep dives into space history, strategy, operations, and policy. 

AFSPC WEAPONS AND TACTICS CONFERENCE

The AFSPC Weapons and Tactics Conference, or WEPTAC, later this year will include the first coalition-led mission area working group to discuss current issues, look at future challenges, and present solutions for integrating coalition tactics development and documentation for the space domain.

Additionally, an AFSPC representative participated in this year’s U.K. WEPTAC, providing expertise on how U.S. space capabilities fit into multi-domain operations. AFSPC leadership is also assessing the U.K.’s Qualified Space Instructor course with plans to develop opportunities for course integration among U.S. and U.K. space operators.

SPACE 300

Earlier this year, four students from Australia, and three from the U.K., became the first international students to graduate the Space 300 course.

They joined U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy service members for the capstone space course designed to develop senior officer and enlisted space professionals as strategic thinkers for an international geopolitical environment and increase understanding of national space policy.

SCHRIEVER WARGAME

This year’s Schriever Wargame, scheduled for next month, will include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S., as long-standing wargame partners. France, Germany and Japan became partners in last year’s wargame and will participate in planning cycles this year before full integration in Schriever Wargame 2020.

Schriever Wargame, an annual event focused on ten years in the future, identifies future force planning and systems integration requirements.

“Space is a warfighting domain - just like air, land and sea,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, Commander of Air Force Space Command, while visiting SF 19-3. “We must continue to look at opportunities to expand our Allied participation to train and fight with our partners just like any other domain. We are stronger together!”