Chief of Space Operations visits North Dakota

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colin Perkins
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, visited Cavalier Space Force Station and Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, following his keynote address at the 17th Annual Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Summit and Expo, in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

The UAS Summit and Expo is a yearly event that draws UAS experts and aviation professionals from around the world to connect them to North Dakota’s UAS ecosystem.

“The technology that supports the UAS enterprise is very similar to the technology that supports space operations now and in the future,” said Saltzman. “With very few exceptions, satellites are remotely piloted and we have to figure out the technology and user interfaces to make sure we can effectively operate our remotely piloted platforms. We have to be very cognizant of how we take advantage in terms of lessons learned and best practices.” 

Saltzman highlighted the importance of the growing Space Development Agency mission at Grand Forks AFB, and how the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture and UAS capabilities will enable future operating concepts for the Department of Defense at large.

“You’ll hear a lot of discussion of what’s called Joint All Domain Command and Control,” said Saltzman. “All domain - how do you domain ‘all’ operations? You start with the two most critical, space and air, and you make sure they can work seamlessly together. The UAS community and space operations community are very tightly linked in this regard. It’s important we keep this community robust and continue to share capabilities.”

Following his keynote address, Saltzman traveled to Cavalier SFS to speak with Guardians of the 10th Space Warning Squadron, a geographically separated unit of Space Delta 4, located at Buckley SFS, Colorado, that oversees the operations and maintenance of the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System (PARCS).

Saltzman enjoyed a meal with Guardians and discussed the journey they have had being part of the DoD’s newest military branch and the unique culture and connection the remoteness of Cavalier SFS has cultivated.

“Coming from a much larger organization to a smaller one, I immediately noticed how close knit everybody is,” said U.S. Space Force Sgt. Cail Jennings, crew chief for the 10th SWS. “It definitely feels more personal, I feel closer to my coworkers.”

Saltzman then observed and visited with the Guardians responsible for tracking over half of all Earth orbiting objects and providing deterrence against pacing challenges, acute threats and persistent threats.

The primary mission of the PARCS is to watch for sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles traveling toward North America. The system collects launch and predicted impact data, referred to as missile warning data. Additionally, the PARCS operates as a collateral sensor providing critical information to the Space Surveillance Network regarding space launches and orbiting objects.

“We have this theory in the Space Force about success, about protecting what we need to protect in space and providing the joint force space capabilities; but then also denying the enemy the use of space capabilities to target our forces – that’s the conundrum we are in now in space,” said Saltzman. “Avoiding operational surprise is one of the things that’s at the heart and soul of the mission at Cavalier. If we can’t see things happen, if we can’t attribute irresponsible behavior, things can escalate very quickly and we can find ourselves in a crisis.”