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Army Space - Small Command; Extraordinary Mission

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lee E. Schroeder, Commanding JTAGS, D Det. 1st Space Co.

With only 2,800 military and civilian personnel, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Force Strategic Command is one of the Army’s smaller commands. However, this three-star command has forces and elements strategically forward-deployed or stationed in 23 different locations across 11 times zones.

The command’s motto, “The sun never sets on SMDC/ARSTRAT,” illustrates its global reach. The SMDC/ARSTRAT headquarters itself is co-located, splitting its four major subordinate elements. The Technical Center, responsible for space and missile defense material development efforts, and the Future Warfare Center, which leads the capability development efforts for the command, are located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The 1st Space Brigade and the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) headquarters are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Misawa Air Base’s Joint Tactical Ground Station, or JTAGS, “Delta Detachment” is an element of the 1st Space Brigade’s 1st Space Battalion. This battalion plans, integrates, synchronizes and executes global theater ballistic missile warning, space situational awareness, space and technical operations support, and assigned contingency activities in support of the Army, joint and combined forces, and civil authorities.

The 1st Space Battalion comprises three companies: 1st, 2nd and 4th, each with unique missions providing critical space support to the warfighter.

1st Space Company’s primary mission is to provide [in] theater ballistic missile early warning. This is achieved by manning and operating forward-based JTAGS units in Italy, Qatar, Korea and Japan. These units provide in-theater 24/7/365 missile warning to geographic combatant commanders giving them near real-time data of significant events captured through the use of overhead persistent infrared, or OPIR, sensors.

The 2nd Space Company has six Army Space Support Teams that provide situational awareness of space capabilities, space assets, space products and the impact of space on operations. When teams deploy, they integrate directly into a staff at the division, corps, joint task force, Marine expeditionary force, theater sustainment command and Army Service Component Command headquarters level. The 2nd Space Company continually supports the war on terrorism and has deployed teams to Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Bahrain. It also maintains two ready Space Support Teams for contingency operations worldwide.

4th Space Company, is a company that primarily deals with Space Situational Awareness. This is mainly for the health and status of satellites. This unit is geographically dispersed and provides support to not only geographical combatant commanders but also to U.S. Strategic Command by supplying critical information and timely data on the health and status of various satellites.

Delta Detachment Soldiers can be seen around the base, in the community and supporting local events outside the installation such as American Day both in the parade and at static displays. While the unit’s mission is to provide in-theater missile warning, it has played an important role in the Misawa community. The best testament to the role of Delta Detachment Soldiers within Army space would be the support provided during the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. During this time, the detachment requested temporary mission relief to load tactical vehicles with thousands of bottles of water and distribute them throughout the local community. Delta Detachment is committed to both the accomplishment of the mission but also service to the community of which they are also a part. Army Space-Always Forward!