Schriever Wargame Drives Command-and-Control Change at CSpOC

US Space Command and Air Force Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond speaks at AFA's Air, Space & Cyber Conference on Sept. 17, 2019. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

The military will stand up a specialized command-and-control cell as part of Vandenberg AFB, Calif.’s Combined Space Operations Center, an action item that came out of the most recent Schriever Wargame.

That new group, which the annual wargame tested out, should be in place by the end of the year, US Space Command and Air Force Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond told Air Force Magazine on Sept. 17.

The two-week Schriever Wargame at Maxwell AFB, Ala., imagined how US, allied, and partner space operators would react to an advanced adversary “seeking to achieve strategic goals by exploiting multi-domain operations” in 2029, with a focus on US European Command, Air Force Space Command said when the event concluded Sept. 13.

“The scenario also included a full spectrum of threats across diverse, multi-domain operating environments to challenge civilian and military leaders, planners, and space system operators, as well as the capabilities they employ,” AFSPC said in a release.

Over the course of the wargame, participants practiced ways to shape the people, processes, and technologies that SPACECOM could use to accomplish its various operational missions; looked at the opportunities and challenges of protecting and defending space assets using civilian, military, and commercial means; considered how to work across classification levels and with various organizations; discussed “responsible behaviors” in space; and mulled how actions in and out of space might escalate or not.

“One of our big takeaways was just how important the coalition is and partners are in space,” Raymond said. “That provided a great advantage during the game. We’ve learned a lot every time we’ve played that game as it relates to our allies. It is clear that we’re stronger together. It’s also clear that our focus, again, is to deter conflict.”

He added that including the new combatant command in the wargame “helped streamline the relationship with our joint warfighting partners around the globe” and sharpened the focus on collaboration with other nations.

About 350 military and civilian participants from 27 US space- and cyber-focused commands and agencies, plus people from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom joined the wargame. American organizations outside of the Defense Department included NASA, the Office of Homeland Security, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Transportation, State, and Commerce departments.

“As adversaries increasingly threaten US freedom of action in space, US Space Command is a critical partner for the NRO,” Christopher Scolese, the office’s director, said in a Sept. 13 release. “Space Command’s mission to protect and defend all US satellites will enhance the survivability of NRO intelligence collection satellites and enable continuation of the national intelligence mission deep into conflict. Exercises like the Schriever Wargame provide us an opportunity to test and improve our joint planning process and shared defensive action ‘playbook’ to preserve assured access to space.”

Raymond recently said that in “higher states of conflict,” the NRO will answer to the SPACECOM commander, who will protect and defend the intelligence organization’s satellites and other assets. He did not elaborate on what circumstances would trigger that shift.

“The ultimate purpose of this new agreement is to achieve unified action across the continuum of conflict,” SPACECOM said Sept. 13. “Although this agreement does not constitute a formal command relationship, nor does it transfer satellite control authority, it signifies the strong partnership between the NRO and US Space Command.”