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News | April 8, 2022

CFSCC conducts advanced SATCOM training event with allies, partners

By Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison Combined Force Space Component Command Public Affairs Office

The Combined Force Space Component Command hosted its first “Rapid Tiger” advanced training event from Mar. 28-31, 2022. Rapid Tiger 22-1 focused on commercial Satellite Communication (SATCOM), where a small team of five from the CFSCC Operations Directorate worked with several different operations centers to complete four vignettes that tested CFSCC’s capabilities to support and maintain satellite communications to the warfighter across the globe despite disruptions to the system.

“I’m very pleased with our first effort to apply this new type of ‘stress test’ to our space command and control operations,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, the CFSCC commander. “Our exercise planning and readiness section has been on the lookout for opportunities to bridge training events with operations in such a way that they can also offer timely solutions to the most pressing issues.”

Scheduled to take place three times a year with participants from all around the world, the Rapid Tiger Events will offer ways to test out new ideas in a low-risk environment.

“Rapid Tiger bridges the gap between table-top exercises and full-scale exercises, which offers another platform to try ideas out,” said Maj. Michelle Williams, the CFSCC Operations Directorate’s chief of exercise planning and readiness. “We will go into each Rapid Tiger event expecting to push the limits, knowing that not every idea we try will pan out; we may fail at times and that’s okay, as long as we learn from it.”

The “Rapid Tiger” moniker was coined by Williams’ team, who knew that the training would be accomplished at a quick pace, and also wanted to pay tribute to CFSCC’s prior connections to the 14th Air Force’s “Flying Tiger” heritage.

During this iteration of Rapid Tiger, the scenario covered various satellite communication vignettes. In addition, each vignette included information gleaned from an emerging capability provided by Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Hybrid Architecture Demonstration (HAD). The HAD uses unclassified commercial satellites to augment existing CFSCC capabilities.

The first vignette simulated a live directed communication switch from one commercial satellite communication spacecraft to another in response to an emergent threat warning, where the switch was not planned and required immediate action. 

The second addressed what actions would need to be taken, and what coordination would be required, to restore communication after Australian partners utilizing Iridium satellite communications experienced electro-magnetic interference.

The third vignette posed a scenario where the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC), located at Vandenberg SFB, and other organizations had to respond to a short-notice deployment of a naval vessel in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. This exercised the process to gain additional commercial satellite communication bandwidth to meet mission requirements. 

The last vignette exercised a short-notice move of operating locations for the SATCOM Integrated Operations Division (SIOD) if the primary location was inoperable.

“All in all, this iteration of Rapid Tiger was a success,” added Williams. “Some of the biggest lessons learned included how to work more seamlessly with our allies and partners, as well as what improvements to our current tactics, techniques, and procedures were needed. I also want to give a special thanks to one of our many partners in this exercise, Mr. Mark Gruenewald and his SIOD team at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, for their hospitality and enthusiasm to turn this idea into a reality.”

The next Rapid Tiger advanced training event is expected to take place this July, when CFSCC will primarily partner with the National Space Defense Center, located at Schriever SFB, Colo.