By 1st Lt. Tyler Whiting | United States Space Force Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Space Flag, the tactical-focused exercise for space warfighters, successfully concluded its ninth exercise iteration (Space Flag 20-3) at the Boeing Virtual Warfare Center in Colorado Springs Aug. 21. This was the first Space Flag exercise completed as part of the new Space Training and Readiness Delta Provisional.
The U.S. Space Force stood up STAR Delta Provisional in July at Peterson Air Force Base.
“The stand-up of the provisional Space Training and Readiness Delta is a critical step to aligning education, training, test and evaluation units for the Space Force,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, Director of Operations and Communications, USSF.
The O-6 led STAR Delta Provisional will serve as the parent organization for a number of education, test and evaluation units transferring to USSF, including the unit responsible for Space Flag.
“Space Flag is one of the many ways we are working to prepare our crew force to ensure freedom of action in or domain so that we can continue to deliver the space-enabled combats edge to the joint and combined force,” said Col. Peter J. Flores, Star Delta commander, USAF.
Despite an adjusted construct and measures taken due to the COVID environment, the two-week exercise where space crews learn how to fight through and prevail against a thinking adversary in potential future conflicts began Aug. 10.
“While we have made many changes to our typical exercise in terms of participant numbers and sequence of events, we have fully embraced the opportunity to train future space warfighters,” said Capt. JamieLynne Hart, Space Flag Exercise director, USAF.
Space Flag originated in 2017 under Air Force Space Command and is modeled after the enduring success of U.S. Air Force Red Flag exercises, but set in an orbital domain.
The exercise continues to grow the tactical and organizational relationships between the National Reconnaissance Office and USSF, further optimizing America’s ability to provide critical space capabilities to users around the globe. Space Flag 20-3 involved a total of 34 participants.
“Our mission is to prepare space warfighters to defend America’s interests in space. The key to maintaining space superiority is integration and ingenuity, and Space Flag is the optimal platform for USSF to sharpen these skills,” said Hart.
Based on lessons learned, a refined approach to spin-up for the exercise was taken to cut it down from two days to one. This offered participants more time to really get after the training the exercise is meant to provide. Decreasing the number days allotted for spin-up also allowed the team to maximize throughput of the training audience and lessen impacts from COVID-19.
During the exercise, participants were organized into three cells with different mission sets which included the Blue Cell, White Cell, and Red Cell.
“Our participants were challenged to be bold, and they carried that warfighter ethos throughout mission planning and execution. I was impressed,” said Hart.
Twenty-four participants were Blue Cell players. Blue Cell simulates orbital engagement maneuvers to gain and maintain space superiority against space threats. These players were derived from the newly established Deltas, which included Delta 2, Space Domain Awareness; Delta 3, Space Electronic Warfare; Delta 4, Missile Warning; Delta 8, Satellite Communications; and Delta 9, Orbital Ware, as well as NRO representatives.
The Space Flag construct already inherently aligns the Blue Player participants within their fundamental missions, so the transition of units from USAF wings to USSF Deltas was seamless to the exercise.
Ten players made up the White Cell, which provides command and control functions. These players were from STAR Delta Operating Location-Alpha, previously known as the Distributed Mission Operations Center-Space.
The Red Cell, which simulates what the thinking and determined adversary aims to accomplish were made up of participants from the 527/26 Space Aggressors Squadron. They act and react to Blue Cell movements to present challenges and complications that may occur within the space domain.
“We continue to forge the USSF into a lean, agile, and forward-looking warfighting-focused Service, which will rely on the latest technology and our greatest asset – our people,” said Burt. “These participants involved in the exercise are crucial to the mission.”