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By Stephen Brady, P-S Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published February 16, 2021
Space Delta 3, the U.S. Space Force’s space electronic warfare Delta, is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The Delta focuses on enabling and protecting the electromagnetic spectrum, which allows for space-based communications. (U.S. Space Force graphic)
The advent of the U.S. Space Force has realigned specific space-related missions to protect U.S. and allied interests in space, and to provide space capabilities to the joint force.
One of those agencies is Space Delta 3, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base.
Space Delta 3, formerly the 721st Operations Group, was re-designated during a ceremony July 24, 2020. Its mission is to conduct space electronic warfare to dominate the space domain.
“The transition to the Space Force has not changed the way we present forces to the [geographic combatant commands],” said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Laliberte, Space Delta 3 senior enlisted leader. “We continue to provide deployers to the combatant commanders.”
Comprised of the 4th Space Control Squadron, 5th SPCS, 16th SPCS and 721st Operations Support Squadron, Space Delta 3 is led by Col. John Thien. Delta 3 has about 300 personnel among its ranks providing space electronic warfare capabilities to the warfighting organizations.
Space electronic warfare is not a new concept – the Air Force has been practicing electronic warfare for years. Space electronic warfare, as its name alludes, focuses on enabling and protecting the electromagnetic spectrum which allows space-based communications.
“What we define as space electronic warfare in essence is no different from what the Air Force does with respect to electronic warfare,” said Lt. Col. Jon Slaughter, Space Delta 3 deputy commander. “There is essentially trade space that an enemy could be operating in [in the electromagnetic spectrum] that we’re going to go after from a non-kinetic perspective. So countering an enemy’s capability to communicate.”
Space Delta 3 includes both offensive and defensive space control operations. Offensive space control is intended to prevent an adversary's hostile use of space capabilities, while defensive space control focuses on identifying and geolocating interference with U.S. capabilities, thereby protecting space capabilities from attack or interference.
“We need to have space superiority, that’s one of the things that the U.S. Space Force is driving, and Space Electronic Warfare will be critical to our ability to gain space superiority” Slaughter said. “Currently in the USSF, we are the primary providers of space electronic warfare, and as we step forward in future military operations—and it’s been said by multiple leaders—we’ll be looking to have space superiority in any fight. So just as air superiority has been important for us to win a war, I think it’s a commonly accepted factor that in the future we will have to have space superiority.”
As Space Delta 3 reflects on becoming part of the USSF, it remains ready to support the warfighter by defending and protecting U.S. space interests.
“The Delta 3 today might be different from the Delta 3 tomorrow,” Slaughter said. “I think that one of the things that we’ve accepted with the transfer to the Space Force is that things are moving quickly and that we are going to continue to expand and grow in different capacities, different squadrons, different missions, [and] different pieces of equipment that we utilize.
“Regardless of the fact that we’ve transferred to a different service, Delta 3 will continue its role to regularly deploy formations and missions downrange,” he said. “We’ve got teams of people in different locations right now, doing this mission, getting wins, and our expectation is that we will continue to drive forward.”
“I believe that Delta 3 really is the tip of the warfighting spear for the Space Force,” Laliberte added. “We maintain a continuous presence in four different deployed locations across three geographic combatant commands. We’ve had Delta 3 personnel deployed for more than 5,000 consecutive days. It does not stop for Delta 3,” he said. “We always have people in the fight.”