LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE – EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --
In July 2018, General Jay Raymond, now the U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations, presided over a ceremony to re-designate the former Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base as the Combined Space Operations Center, or CSpOC. That event signified a pivot in U.S. Strategic Command’s intent for maintaining superiority in space by expanding space domain awareness information sharing and collaboration between U.S. military and coalition and commercial partners.
“No one nation can do this alone,” said Raymond at the time. “The partnerships we are forming today will no doubt lead to a more stable and sustainable space domain for years to come.”
Fast forward to 2020, and those strategic intentions are becoming a reality.
The latest breakthrough achieved by the Space Command and Control Program Office, often referred to as “Kobayashi Maru,” is the recent development and implementation of an operational platform that can host coalition-releasable mission workflows and applications for utilization by coalition exchange officers at the CSpOC.
This “releasable” platform was developed by the Kobayashi Maru Platform and Services Team in collaboration with Pivotal, VMware and the Naval Information and Warfare Center. The cloud-native platform leverages commercial best practices, cutting-edge deployment technologies and requisite security procedures to provide a resilient operational backbone in order to host coalition-focused Space C2 capabilities. This includes hosting the applications in development by SMC at Los Angeles Air Force Base, as well as third-party commercial capabilities such as those developed under contracts awarded during the first Air Force Space Pitch Day in San Francisco last November.
“This agile developmental approach accelerates the CSpOC’s ability to meet the strategic intent set in motion by General Raymond in late 2018 and tightly couples the collaborative ownership of space domain awareness among partner nations,” said Lt. Col. Stevie Medeiros, material leader within the Kobayashi Maru program office. “This development enables a two-fold effect that significantly advances the United States’ newest military branch the ability to operate effectively with its coalition partners.”
According to Medeiros, exchange officer partners stationed at the CSpOC can now fully utilize the Space C2 capabilities hosted on the newly accredited platform. Secondly, coalition-focused applications being developed for U.S. military personnel are now available at various coalition partner space operations centers around the globe, specifically those who are part of the FVEY alliance (known as “Five Eyes”), which consists of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UK/USA agreement for joint cooperation in signals intelligence, human intelligence, and other forms of military intelligence and have been the focal point for collaboration within the space community.
“The most immediate and tangible result of all this is that coalition partners assigned to the CSpOC can fully utilize the high-interest event tracker (Space Board) that provides space domain awareness across the Department of Defense space community. Additionally, those same partner nations can now display the same U.S.-based applications at their respective operations centers,” said Medeiros.
Developed by Kobayashi Maru’s organic team, Section 31, the Space Board application was the first mission capability to go through Air Force Space Command’s (now U.S. Space Force) newly revamped operational acceptance process and has been utilized by U.S. CSpOC operators since August of 2019. The application replaced an inefficient and manually-intensive legacy system and now provides a real-time data display of high-interest information pertaining to the global space community such as upcoming space launches, potential satellite conjunctions, atmospheric re-entries of objects in space, sensor status, and other pertinent information.
“As a result of the new platform becoming operational, coalition members at the CSpOC can now fully employ the application, sharing that mission responsibility with our U.S. military members,” said Col. Scott Brodeur, 614 AOC Commander and CSpOC Director. “Secondly, the Space Board application is now displayed at the UKSpOC, the CANSpOC, and the AUSSpOC, increasing our space mission resiliency and ensuring a common understanding of space domain awareness between our FVEY coalition partners.”
Since Col. Brodeur took the helm of the CSpOC, the organization has made significant strides toward achieving General Raymond’s intent of being a collaborative, coalition-capable organization. In fact, Brodeur recently appointed Group Captain Darren Whiteley, a member of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, as his deputy director.
“The allied partners’ ability to utilize [coalition releasable] Space C2 application is vital if we are to realize true multi-national force operations in the space domain and collectively strengthen deterrence against hostile actors in space,” said Whiteley, a Colonel equivalent, and one of many coalition partners currently stationed at the CSpOC who have been eagerly awaiting delivery of a coalition-capable network and applications like Space Board.
“Providing our mission partners, both here at the CSpOC and at their own national SpOCs, with access to these applications allows us to plan and execute space operations as rapidly and collaboratively possible. Access enhances situational awareness and decision making at the operational level and allows for a federated approach to C2, increasing redundancy and increasing mission-sharing possibilities,” said Whiteley.
Within the Kobayashi Maru program office, the same development team that produced Space Board (Section 31) recently gained operational acceptance on their second application, Surefire. Surefire is a centralized deconfliction support request tool that provides accurate and timely radio frequency windows for military, commercial, and mission partners. Surefire has been deployed to the Kobayashi Maru platform, enabling further collaboration with the aforementioned FVEY partners. The application will be fully accessible by the coalition partners with numerous Space Command and Control-related applications to follow, once they reach the appropriate maturity level of usage by the space community.
Section 31 is the organic coding arm within the Kobayashi Maru program office that is responsible for standing up this coalition friendly network and development of the three applications that have been operationally accepted; Space Board, Surefire, and most recently Vue, which is a Space Object Identification tasking tool that allows the intelligence community to conduct analysis on specific satellites over time by precisely matching satellites to radar collection sites. All of these tools are currently in use on the operations floor today and have set the tone for collaborative mission capability within the FVEY coalition.
“The Section 31 team is meeting one of Gen Raymond’s top directives to deliver capabilities to the FVEY partners by enabling Space Board access at all FVEY SpOC's,” said Capt Davis Gunter, chief of platform within Kobayashi Maru. “Our vision is to create a digital Space Force where extraordinary software propels space dominance,” said Capt. Carlo Viray, Section 31 Director of Product. “We’re truly leveraging software as a warfighting edge, enabling both U.S. and coalition forces to be the most advanced, capable and lethal force in the space domain.”
As the technical capabilities continue to advance and further mission capability is delivered by the Kobayashi Maru program office, the collaboration with the Space Force’s partner nations will continue to grow, enabling a more robust and resilient ownership of the space domain.