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By 2nd Lt. Remington Sawade, Peterson-Schriever Garrison
/ Published January 21, 2021
Space Delta 7 activated July 24, 2020 as a functional component of the U.S. Space Force. Space Delta 7 is the operational Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) element of the USSF. The ISR Delta provides critical, time sensitive and actionable intelligence for space domain operations to allow for the detection, characterization and targeting of adversary space capabilities. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Maj. Nathaniel Amsden, Senior Master Sgt. Justin Michaels and Tech Sgt Cory Martin)
Space Delta 7 is the operational Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance element of the U.S. Space Force, whose mission is to execute global ISR operations to gain and maintain information dominance in the space domain. Given the U.S. Space Force’s formal induction as the 18th member of the U.S. Intelligence Community on Jan. 8, 2021, the significance of Space Delta 7’s mission has never been greater.
“Space Delta 7 was activated July 24, 2020 to deliver tactical ISR to the leading edge of space operations like no unit has delivered before,” said Space Delta 7 Commander Col. Chandler Atwood. “To provide critical indications and warning of potential hostile acts to our space assets, the space ISR enterprise must shift to a more tactical, time-driven mind-set, driving actionable intelligence to space operations. Space Delta 7 is ready to answer that call,” said Atwood.
Space Delta 7, located at Peterson Air Force Base, is critical to the USSF mission.
“Our job is to know and understand more about our adversaries than they know about us, and to inform the rest of the USSF operations community of how to counter the threats,” said Space Delta 7 Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Drake.
Space Delta 7, comprised of former intelligence flights previously spread throughout the prior Air Force space operations squadrons, is at the forefront of a very unique and challenging ISR mission for the USSF.
“While other branches of the service may conduct ISR through and from space, we are conducting ISR through, from and for space operations,” said Drake.
This methodology behind their operations allows Space Delta 7 Airmen and Guardians to test the boundaries and abilities of traditional intelligence operations compared to Air Force ISR squadrons, said Tech Sgt. Kevin Fristoe, TISROC Flight Chief, 72nd ISR Squadron. He also said a distinct aspect of Space Delta 7 is its focus on supporting real world operations, whereas traditional ISR tends to assist with intelligence acquisition and development.
“The ISR missions under Delta 7 will continue to follow the rules and regulations of conducting [intelligence operations], but will also explore new ways to advance intel support directly to the warfighter,” said Fristoe.
The structure of Space Delta 7 is based on the goal of maintaining the most effective intelligence stream from analysts to operators possible. Tech Sgt. Stephen Zielinski, NCOIC Intel Operations, Detachment 8, 71st ISR Squadron described it as a simplified structure placing all intelligence personnel into one organization.
“Having all intelligence personnel who support the space domain under one commander drives fusion between all space force intelligence capabilities. This allows intelligence personnel to leverage our unique capabilities and provide the space warfighters with the most accurate and relevant information to support the mission,” said Zielinski.
The mission Delta’s independence to utilize its people and assets has made it an invaluable partner for the other Space Deltas.
“Our partnership with the other [Space] Deltas is probably one of the biggest success stories of Delta 7. We have, in each and every one of the mission Deltas, a Delta 7 intelligence detachment baked into [them]. That provides seamless, on-demand and integrated ISR support for each of the other Deltas,” said Drake.
The integrated support of partner Deltas is made possible by the information dominance focus of Space Delta 7. In his own words, Fristoe explained information dominance for the Space Force as having a strategic advantage over adversaries in relation to their space capabilities.
This can prove to be a complex objective due to the sometimes informal and always evolving space domain. Despite the challenge, Zielinski was confident the Guardians and Airmen of Delta 7 were more than capable of accomplishing the mission.
Staying ahead of competitors in the space and information domains will continue to hold the focus of Space Delta 7 going forward as well. According to Drake, they will remain operationally focused and continue to ensure the ISR data collected meets the needs of the other Deltas.
“The key for us is [information dominance]. It can’t just be a buzz word. We have to own the information environment so we can make decisions at the speed of relevance and at the speed of war,” said Drake.