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By 1st Lt. Tyler Whiting, Space Operations Command Public Affairs
/ Published December 21, 2020
Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, Commander of Space Operations Command, takes a group photo with the Guardians, Airmen and civilians who were involved in the Space Flag exercise Dec. 17, 2020, in Colorado Springs. During his visit, Lt. Gen. Whiting took the opportunity to speak with each of the participants to discuss their role and mission set within the simulated scenario. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Bertain)
Capt. Chris Huynh demonstrating the ability to react to a thinking adversary and operate as a warfighter to SrA. Delia Vega at Schriever Air Force Base on Dec. 7, 2020. (U.S. Space Force photo by Judi J. Tomich)
Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, right, Commander of Space Operations Command, gets his temperature checked before entering the Space Flag exercise Dec. 17, 2020, in Colorado Springs. Although pandemic protocols placed limits on the size of Space Flag 21-1 training audience, STAR Delta exercise controllers implemented mitigation procedures to ensure a safe combat training environment. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Bertain)
As the United States Space Force celebrates its first birthday on Dec. 20, the tenth iteration of Space Flag, SF 21-1, concludes successfully in Colorado Springs, Dec. 18.
Aligned with the Chief of Space Operations Planning Guidance published earlier this year, Space Flag provides training beyond mission system awareness and offers participants the opportunity to train in a virtual, contested environment against a replicated near-peer adversary.
“As we reach this major milestone, we need to further enhance exercises such as Space Flag,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, commander, Space Operations Command, USSF. “Space is a distinct source of power for America and its allies, the training and skills that sustained its space operations for the last several decades are not the same skills necessary to fight through current and emerging threats and win in today’s contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment.”
Led by Space Training and Readiness Delta Operating Location Alpha, SF 21-1 involved a total of 36 participants, comprised of Guardians and Airmen, including representatives from Delta 2 – Space Domain Awareness; Delta 3 – Space Electronic Warfare; Delta 4 – Missile Warning, Delta 7 – Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Delta 8 – Satellite Communications and Navigational Warfare; Delta 9 – Orbital Warfare; and the National Reconnaissance Office.
The O-6 led STAR Delta, which stood up in July at Peterson Air Force Base, serves as the parent organization for the training, education, test, and evaluation units transferred into the USSF, including STAR Delta OL-A.
“STAR Delta is dedicated to readiness through high-fidelity training,” said Col. Peter J. Flores, STAR Delta commander, USSF. “Creating the most realistic training environment available enables our space operators to better recognize and react to adversary threats as they hone their warfighting skills.”
Although pandemic protocols placed limits on the size of SF 21-1 training audience, participants successfully showcased their warfighting expertise by employing tactical effects to achieve campaign objectives. Blue Cell participants were exposed to tactical orbital engagements to test their ability to gain and maintain space superiority against a thinking adversary.
“The operators we train today, through exercises such as Space Flag 21-1, will be better prepared to protect and defend America’s assets in, to, and from space,” said Capt. JamieLynne “Royal” Hart, USSF, SF 21-1 Exercise Director and STAR Delta OL-A Weapons and Tactics Chief.
Space Flag originated in 2017 under Air Force Space Command and was inspired by the United States Air Force Red Flag exercises, however, orchestrated to meet the demands of the space domain.
“Our mission is to prepare space warfighters to defend the United States’ and its allies’ interests in space,” said Flores. “Delivering the space-enabled combat edge for friendly forces requires us to maintain our competitive advantage and ensure freedom of action by continually improving how we train, how we equip and, if called upon, how we fight and we win.”
During the exercise, SF 21-1 participants were organized into three cells with different mission sets, including Blue Cell participants, a simulated Red Force represented by the 527th and the 26th Space Aggressors Squadrons, and an Exercise Control Group.
“Space Flag participants were challenged to be bold, innovative and agile in the face of adversity,” said Whiting. “Witnessing all we’ve accomplished this first year in USSF history I could not be more proud of our people, however we can’t stop here, we must continue advancing our forces to prevail in a contested, degraded, and operationally-limited environment through the education and training of space professionals.”