New Mission Deltas Better Integrate Space, Cyber, and ISR, SpOC Boss Says

When the Space Force first unveiled its Integrated Mission Delta concept in September 2023, leaders emphasized how the concept would unite operations and sustainment under one roof, accelerating upgrades and fixes.  But nearly a year later, the head of Space Operations Command says the new design better aligns space, cyber, and intelligence units and their people.  

SpOC boss Lt. Gen. David N. Miller Jr. said the new deltas fill a “gap” that existed within SpOC in the way deltas were initially constructed.

“We didn’t integrate in that [original] formation all of the elements that we think are principal focus areas for the presentation of forces,” he said. “We focused on the space squadrons. We didn’t integrate into those deltas the [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] squadron or detachment or the cyber unit.” 

The Integrated mission deltas include those elements and have produced better results, Miller said, citing an example: “We had an anomaly on one of our newer birds that we had launched in PNT,” Miller said. “And because [commander] Col. Andrew Menschner had the ISR unit to actually focus on the threat right then, and the capability to work the sustainment and fixes to that, he was able to fix something in hours that might have taken days in the past.” 

Now commanders have a “clearer picture of the mission need,” he said, as well as the capabilities to defend their assets in space and cyberspace. 

The Space Force has just two Integrated Mission Deltas right now. One focuses on GPS, while the other is focused on electronic warfare. But soon two more IMDs will be formed. The head of Space Systems Command, Lt. Gen. Philip A. Garrant, said in May that two missile warning and space domain awareness IMDs will stand up this summer, and more could be coming. Miller said this week that SpOC’s aim is that “over the next year, we will complete the transition of all the deltas that need to be integrated mission deltas into IMDs.”

Miller’s timeline is even more aggressive than the year and a half projected by Garrant less than two months ago. 

All told, SpOC has eight mission deltas, including the two integrated mission deltas.

Miller also echoed praise for how the IMDs have allowed operators and program managers and engineers to work together. 

“We streamlined the chain of command, and we said that the sustainment function and the capability to ensure the ability to both repair if needed, but also to a limited extent, improve the combat capability as spiral upgrades are coming in, are under the control of a single commander,” Miller noted with pride.  

Yet not all SpOC deltas will become IMDs. Deltas focused on ISR and cyber specifically likely won’t make the shift. 

“In missions where we are providing capability as part of the combat force, either presented or sustained, where we need to integrate those three mission capabilities of space, cyber, and ISR, I think you’ll see those as potential candidates for integrated mission deltas,” Miller said. As for Delta 6, SpOC’s cyber delta, and Delta 7, the ISR delta, “I’m not sure that those need to be integrated mission deltas.” 

They could still see changes in structure, however, Miller said. “For example, our targeting squadron: As a programmer I was the one who laid in the requirements to build that squadron. I know that I don’t have enough capability there to meet all the needs of the combatant commanders. I think there’s growth in some of those missions in particular, I just don’t know that they need to be integrated mission deltas.”