Space Force Lays Out Its Vision As a Digital Service

Space Force Lays Out Its Vision As a Digital Service

Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations and head of the U.S. Space Force, routinely stresses that this new military service is vastly different than its predecessors. Created in the 21st Century, it is being built from the bottom up as a digital service. Today he released a report explaining what that means.

Maj. Gen. Kimberly Crider, Mobilization Assistant to the Chief of Space Operations. Credit: U.S. Space Force

Raymond and Maj. Gen. Kim Crider, his Mobilization Assistant, told reporters that the Space Force must “fully embrace digital” or it will “not be able to stay ahead of the threat” to space systems on which the military and the public depend.

“When you think about our strategic competitors and the threats that we currently face, becoming a digital service is much more than an opportunity, it’s a necessity,” Raymond said.

Their vision of an “interconnected, innovative, digitally dominant force” is spelled out in “U.S. Space Force: Vision for a Digital Service.

One key to achieving the vision is a “digitally fluent workforce” and the report is replete with call-out boxes along with an extensive glossary to define terms like digital fluency.

In short, Crider explained, the goal is a digitally dominant force that translates “digitally minded people, digitally enabled processes and digitally advanced technology into potent force-multiplying effect to outsmart, outpace and outmaneuver any potential threat and consistently deliver competitive advantage.”

Crider was asked if a digital force is more vulnerable not only to cyberattacks, but to the risk that one piece of bad data could lead to incorrect decisions. For example, during the launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station two weeks ago, U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) alerted NASA and the four-person crew of a potential collision with a piece of space debris, causing the astronauts to redon their spacesuits and close their visors as a precaution.  Later, USSPACECOM backtracked and said there never was a collision threat and the warning was based on an “inaccurate report.”

Space Force supports USSPACECOM, but tracking space objects and issuing collision warnings is the latter’s responsibility. Raymond and Crider declined to comment on the Crew-2 incident or on the current tracking of China’s Long March 5B rocket body that is expected to make an uncontrolled reentry this weekend. Crider did agree that all digital capabilities carry risk and Space Force is being very deliberate about how it proceeds. The cloud-based platform they are using has security built-in and they have “very strong processes for data management and ensuring the integrity of the data that we are bringing into our systems.”

The next step is developing a roadmap to implement the vision. “It’s going to take leadership at all levels of the Space Force to implement it,” Raymond said. “I’m excited for where this is going to take us.  It’s not just important, it’s a necessity.”

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