COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Commander of Space Training and Readiness Command, Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton, outlined the vision for the National Space Test and Training Complex, or NSTTC, at the 2023 Space Symposium’s Satellite Forum Breakfast on April 19.


Bratton began his presentation by noting the many advantages the U.S. Space Force has—launch systems, satellites, sensors, and the signals linking it all together.


The biggest advantage the Space Force has though, according to Bratton, is its people—its Guardians.


“There are incredible space capabilities out there for all countries to use,” Bratton said. “But in the United States Space Force, we believe our biggest advantage—and really our competitive advantage—comes from our people.”


Speaking to a room filled with space leaders from government, military, and industry, Bratton explained that Guardians are such a big advantage because they embody each of the military space professionals to come before them: engineers, operators, integrators, and warfighters.


“The Space Force demands that Guardians be a little of each of these traditions,” he said. “That’s what makes them our biggest advantage. And my job is to maximize that advantage. I owe them the best training, education, doctrine, and test and evaluation to maximize the advantage they bring to the Space Force.”


Bratton proceeded to give a glimpse into each of those four areas, beginning with training. He mentioned STARCOM’s revamp of basic military training, whereby the U.S. Space Force is now teaching new space-focused curriculum to all-Guardian flights; instructing Guardians, from day one, to think about and understand their newfound roles in a contested space domain.


Beyond initial training, Bratton enumerated on the field command’s push toward providing Guardians with advanced training throughout their careers. He discussed STARCOM’s highly realistic exercises such as SPACE FLAG and the SKIES exercise series, where Guardians are challenged to overcome realistic threats in the space domain, focusing less on simulation and planning and more on live combat training.


Bratton said that STARCOM is equally as focused on education as it is on training.


“You can think of training as preparing Guardians for the known,” he said. “And education is preparing for the unknown. We teach Guardians how to partner with allies, how to understand adversary threats, and how to navigate the policy and legal aspects of the space domain.”


Bratton also spoke to the benefits associated with Guardians learning alongside international and joint partners in the classroom, stating that STARCOM currently partners with 55 nations through its education programs.


Perhaps the “biggest win” in the Guardian education realm, according to Bratton, is the recent announcement of the Space Force’s partnership with Johns Hopkins University for intermediate and senior officer education.


In addition to training and education, STARCOM is maximizing the advantage that Guardians provide by developing and writing Space Force doctrine, Bratton said.


“What does warfighting in space look like?” he asked the audience. “Normally you develop doctrine from experience in warfighting, and you gather those lessons that worked and were successful and write them into your service’s doctrine.


“We have never fought in space,” he further stated, “and we don’t ever want to fight in space, but we must have a warfighting doctrine. We have to provide that [doctrine] so we can train and educate the force on it so we can be ready and maximize the advantage of our forces.”


To develop doctrinal concepts, STARCOM runs an idea or theory through “a campaign of learning” including wargames and exercises. Bratton said that once that concept is proven out, it is then codified in doctrine and becomes a common operating procedure for Guardians.


Bratton then mentioned that test and evaluation is the fourth way he maximizes Guardian advantage, noting his role as the operational authority for Space Force test and evaluation.


He added that STARCOM is standing up new test organizations to “wring out the best from our capabilities,” and to be able to “combine it with that human element—with those Guardians—to maximize their advantage.”


Bratton culminated his presentation by saying that training, education, doctrine, and test all come together in a single place – the National Space Test and Training Complex, a network of ranges designed to provide realistic, threat-informed test and training environments.


“Other services are able to just carve out a piece of real estate where no one else goes in the desert, at sea, or in the sky,” he said, “we don’t have that luxury in the Space Force … there’s no sovereignty in space.”


As such, the Space Force needs to build a new kind of range.


Bratton outlined a “rough blueprint” of the range, noting that it will have several layers that tie together all aspects of the Guardian mission.


A Range Control layer to oversee safe and professional behavior during testing and training events. Orbital (NSTTC-O), Electromagnetic (NSTTC-E), and Cyber (NSTTC-C) layers that include live and simulated assets. And a digital layer (NSTTC-D) connecting and collecting data from across the layers during comprehensive testing and training events.


“Our version of operational test and training infrastructure, the NSTTC or the range as we call it, is the best way we can maximize the advantage that Guardians provide the Space Force,” Bratton said.


Bratton announced STARCOM’s upcoming NSTTC Industry Day scheduled for June 22 to share early progress on building the NSTTC, and to hear feedback from industry partners.


“This is a challenge,” he said. “There’s a ton of work to do here, and we need your creative ideas on how to build a range for our Guardians.”


Photo note: U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Shawn N. Bratton, Commander of Space Training and Readiness Command, gives remarks as the featured speaker for the 38th Space Symposium Satellite Forum Breakfast in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 19, 2023. (U.S. Space Force photo by Ethan Johnson)

People who read this article also found these articles interesting :