CSpOC offers opportunity for deeper understanding of allied partners

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

With more than 15 exchange and liaison officers assigned to various units across Vandenberg SFB, there is a good chance that U.S. military and civilians here will have the opportunity to interact with and work side-by-side with them at some point. To help introduce the international officers to a greater number of people here and increase understanding of what they do as part of the space enterprise, the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) held a “Coalition All Call” on base Oct. 15.

About 40 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force officers from the Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) and CSpOC attended the all-call, which was limited in size to adhere to COVID safety restrictions. Three international partners stationed here, led by Royal Air Force Group Capt. Darren Whiteley, CSpOC deputy commander, took time to explain their roles here and answer questions.

“International partnerships are essential allow us all to expand and improve our network and capabilities with fewer resources, deter adversaries from attacking our systems and coalesce our thinking of space security operations and concepts” said Whiteley. “This all-call only helps to strengthen our partnership, allowing for more interaction and transparency between militaries and cultures.”

In addition to Whiteley, Royal Canadian Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Boileau, the commander of the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command Space Detachment, and Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader Adam Tooth, deputy of the plans branch at the CSpOC, spent nearly two hours speaking about their military career paths and answering questions from the audience.

Topics discussed included officer rank structure and career progression in their respective militaries, a snapshot of their military assignments, and the space operations capabilities of their respective countries. The discussions were at an unclassified level under Chatham House rules, which allowed for frank discussion in the room.

The idea to conduct this all-call came from an unlikely source—a question from a judge advocate captain who visited the CSpOC earlier in the year.

Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, the 65th Cyber Squadron commander, said that Capt. Jenny Gallegos, Space Launch Delta 30 judge advocate, asked whether or not the CSpOC hosted something to give allied partners a chance to talk about their military experiences. That one question got him thinking even more.

“When you’re working side by side with coalition partners, it’s sometimes too easy to focus on the day to day work, and never take a step back to look at the bigger picture – that multiple nations can work together to achieve mutual goals,” said Thompson. “I hope that this open forum allows officers from both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force to learn about our coalition partners from that bigger picture perspective, rather than in the workcenter. The better we understand the way each of us thinks or conduct military operations, the better we’ll work together in times of crisis.”

Maj. Brian Thorn, 65th CYS director of operations, coordinated the all-call, keeping in mind the entire time how important his past experiences working with allied forces were in shaping his mindset of partnerships.

“I was fortunate enough as a second lieutenant to have an RAF officer as my flight commander when I was assigned to the 2nd Space Warning Squadron at Buckley AFB in 2011. The squadron was, and I believe still is, a combined USSF/USAF, Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Royal Australian Air Force squadron, so I received mentoring from a variety of coalition officers, NCOs and senior NCOs who helped me grow by leaps and bounds as an officer. I’m hoping that these type of meetings will do the same for the officers here at CSpOC.”