By Tom Squitieri
Red Snow News
WASHINGTON — Select Air National Guard states with space capabilities have stepped up to fill the gap of backing up the Space Force as a force multiplier in the space domain while being liaisons with militaries in other nations.
Right now, Air National Guard units from New York are conducting a major space awareness operation with Brazilian counterparts, one of the many under-the-radar examples of how state guard units are supporting and enhancing the fledging U.S. Space Force at home and abroad.
The exercise with Brazil, called Global Sentinel, runs from July 25 to August 3 and is focusing on space awareness. Elements from seven states and one territory are participating in the exercise with the Brazilians, taking place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
It will be followed by a second exercise with Brazil from September 11 to 16 that is to focus on a “realistic adversary threat scenario,” according to Lt. Col. Christopher Graziano of the New York Air National Guard.
“Space is too big for the U.S. to do on its own,” Graziano said. “We are really going to need help from our partner and allies…to provide that space security.”
Graziano joined counterparts from the Colorado and California Air National Guards to brief a handful of reporters on the backbone contributions of Air Guard operations to the U.S. Space Force.
At the briefing, officials outlined initiatives and partnerships they say prepare them to fill the gap behind the newly formed U.S. Space Force. While the U.S. Space Force has been established, no reserve component exists for this new service.
The goal, they said, is to help meet U.S. Space Command’s top objective to strengthen and expand collective space power with allies and partners through security cooperation agreements and exercises.
An estimated 1,000 ANG Citizen-Airmen based in seven states and one territory perform or support space missions every day, in mission areas of missile warning; space domain awareness; satellite command and control; military satellite communications; space electromagnetic warfare operations; space test and training; analysis of space intelligence.
Col. Adam Rogge of the Colorado Air National Guard said those units make up 15 percent of the U.S. Space Force operations.
A key component of that work is the Guard partnership programs with foreign nations, a program that will turn 30 in 2023. More than 80 nations want to establish partnerships with the U.S. space command, which is looking to the Guard to leverage those relationships.
The uptick in exercises and cooperation with Brazil is an example of how the Air Guard is able to fill a void.
“(Space operations) are somewhat limited in the southern hemisphere and Brazil doing this is very important to us,” Graziano said. “While Brazil may be relatively new to the space….we are really looking to capitalize on their investment going forward. Space Command sees Brazil as one of the highest priorities in SouthCom (U.S. Southern Command).”
Members of the Brazilian Air Force Aerospace Operations Commander (COMAE) traveled to Rome, New York, in June for training and to enhance cooperation between the two nations’ space efforts. For example, Brazil can contribute to this effort because it will have telescopes and sensors located near the equator, which can fill in gaps in the current tracking system
“The engagements have ebbed and flowed over the years,” he said. “In the 22 years, this is the most engaged we have seen them. They are very, very (interested) in what we can provide in the space realm.”
(Air National Guard Photo by Senior Airman Daniel Meade)