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News | April 28, 2020

Senior Army space officer to receive first star

By Mikayla Mast U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

The confirmation of a senior U.S. Army space operations officer for promotion to brigadier general by the U.S. Senate on March 20 is significant to the future of Army space forces.

Jerry Pepin, acting director of the Army Space Personnel Development Office, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, said the promotion of former U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command officer, Col. Richard L. Zellmann, who is currently serving as the deputy chief of staff for U.S. Space Command’s Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate, is an important step and showed the need for Army representation in joint space operations.

“Col. Zellmann's promotion recognizes the growing importance of the space domain and the capabilities that operate through and from space,” Pepin said. “For the Army, Army space and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in particular, it ensures that Army equities are represented in the joint arena in such areas as space capability development and employment of ground space forces on current and future battlefields.”

Zellmann said it was important for the Army to be represented in these joint ventures because the U.S. Army is the largest user of space-based capabilities.

“Without access to the force multiplication that space services provide, our Army has a much tougher fight across all of the warfighting functions,” Zellmann said. “The plans we develop in Space Command, which leverage all services, will ensure that Army forces have access to the satellite communications; position, navigation and timing; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and missile warning and defense assets it needs to succeed against peer adversaries.”

Zellmann’s understanding of Army space utilization and needs came from his extensive career in Army space operations, which began in 2004. He said this experience, including his time with the 1st Space Brigade, helped broaden his space experience, preparing him for his role at USSPACECOM.

“I learned my trade as an Army Space Support Team leader and then moved to the 1st Space Battalion staff to learn more about all of the battalion missions,” Zellmann said. “When I served as the brigade S-3, I had to learn about the 53rd Signal Battalion. As I moved to the SMDC staff, I had to learn how the 100th Missile Defense Brigade, the SATCOM enterprise, and the Mission Management Center worked.” 

Zellmann said what he learned and experienced through each progression of rank at USASMDC will have vital applications in his new role, as he continues to learn new skills and concepts necessary for his position.

“It's no different moving to Space Command,” Zellmann said. “I can leverage all I've learned from a lot of smart people in SMDC, but I also have to learn some new things such as space situational awareness and the application of maneuver warfare to the space domain.”

Zellmann said he already understands the importance of striking a balance of the limited inventory of space professionals between services and combatant commands.

“Even with the creation of the Space Force, the U.S. Army requires space experts at all echelons,” Zellmann said. “The space community is under a lot of pressure to sustain space cadre billets in the Army, to resource new Army space billets in Space Command, and determine what part, if any, of the Army Space Enterprise transitions to the U.S. Space Force.”

“As senior leaders, our role is to provide direction and gather resources,” Zellmann said. “Many of the senior (Functional Area)-40s in U.S. Space Command worked on the development of the manning document for the command. There are large increases in joint FA-40 billets, which will offer significant experience in joint warfighting to our cadre in the coming years.” 

Pepin said with the stand-up of the U.S. Space Command, the Army will see 52 new FA-40 billets within the next five years. As joint space operations grow, the need for the Army to be represented also increases.

“Col. Zellmann is able to articulate Army requirements from a senior, experienced ground warfighter's perspective to the joint warfighter,” Pepin said. “With more than 2,500 pieces of space-enabled equipment in the average Brigade Combat Team and growing capabilities in organizations capable of multi-domain operations, it is imperative for the Army to be well-represented in the joint and DOD space operations community to influence the development of space capabilities that the Army needs.”