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Space Brigade commander discusses multi-domain


On right, Col. Rick Zellmann, commander, 1st Space Brigade, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, participates in the Multi-Domain Battle Panel during the 20th Space & Missile Defense Symposium at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala., Aug. 8. (Photo by Dottie K. White (SMDC/ARSTRAT)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- – A U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command leader discussed intelligence support of the space domain during the Multi-Domain Battle Panel at the 20th Space and Missile Defense Symposium Aug. 8.

Col. Rick Zellmann, commander, 1st Space Brigade, USASMDC/ARSTRAT, highlighted three things from the space domain perspective during his opening remarks as part of the six-person panel.

He first discussed intelligence support to the multi-domain fires.

“I don’t know that we are necessarily tooled to support multi-domain fires as we need to be. And that’s really not surprising,” Zellmann said.

The intelligence enterprise has been supporting the land and maritime domains for hundreds of years, the air domain for decades and for the newer domains – cyber and space – it’s years, Zellmann explained.

“And so what are the ramifications of that,” asked Zellmann. “I think what we’re finding on the space operations side is that when we employ our forces, not only do we have to employ the forces on the battlefield but we have to do a lot of our own intelligence support. That intelligence support is not something that is easily gained, and the entire intelligence preparation of the environment takes some time.”

He said the lesson learned from that is the Army may need a portion of the forces forward stationed in order to obtain the intelligence to be prepared.

The second topic Zellmann highlighted was threat replication.

“So we’re building this multi-domain task force very quickly, and we’re not going to get it right the first time,” said Zellmann. “We’re going to make some mistakes, we’re going to learn some lessons along the way, and we’re going to feed back that information, and then we’re going to iterate. And at the end, we should come up with a force structure … TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and doctrine that is sound. Really all that is predicated on the fact that you have adequately represented the threat.

“In the space domain, I would argue we probably have a very good understanding in what the order of battle is, but we don’t necessarily understand the TTPs or the doctrine in which our adversaries will employ them,” he said. “So when we’re developing the multi-domain task force, we don’t necessarily have a doctrinal template for the adversary to put out there. So if we don’t have that right, we’re going to learn some of the wrong lessons.”

Lastly, Zellmann discussed beyond-the-horizon targeting. He said there are people who are good at long-range precision fires, and part of the multi-domain concept is to enable those long-range precision fires to open windows of advantage for others. Long-range precision fires require a couple of things: 1) intelligence to find the target in the first place, and 2) more intelligence to observe those fires.

“If you look at how the A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) environment works, a lot of our ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) assets from the aerial layer are pushed out, and they don’t necessarily have the assets required,” Zellmann said. “The space layer is also somewhat challenged. Some of our assets will be denied, and some of them will be destroyed. So if we look in combination, we lose some of our aerial layer, and we lose some of our space layer. So then how can we still provide long-range precision fires?”

Zellmann argues that there are probably several approaches to solving that problem. One would be to take advantage of current systems on orbit that don’t necessarily participate in targeting by spending a little money on those technologies to make them targetable.

Another would be to launch some small satellites to provide more dilemmas for the adversary, he said. Multiple small satellites on orbit while not nearly as capable as some of the very large enterprise version ISR systems would present the number of dilemmas that some of those systems would survive long enough to provide that precision target that is required.

And third, Zellmann talked about the high-altitude approach, or the layer between the air domain and space domain at around 65,000 feet to 75,000 feet, where one can put a high-altitude platform.

“That high-altitude platform can have many different payloads,” he continued. “It could have ISR payloads. It could have an assured GPS payload. It could have a SATCOM (satellite communications) payload. The advantage is you could put many of these up there, and you could stand off in the rear area and still have the slant range required in order to provide the precision ISR needed.

“Of course many folks ask wouldn’t they just launch a missile and take out your balloon,” Zellmann said. “The answer is yes they probably would. Expensive missile, cheap balloon – I encourage that calculus. Please continue. At the end of the day, I think they’ll run out of missiles or they’ll go broke.

“I think it is imperative to realize that multi-domain battle is not new. The other services have been opening windows of advantage for us for years,” he said. “Really we’re just switching the paradigm.”

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