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Space Tacticians Course broadens participants, welcomes French Space Operators

Members of the Space Tacticians course stand together for a group photo in front of the Combined Force Space Component Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Sept. 29, 2022. The course, which aimed at enhancing global space operations by training in effective tactical planning, consisted of Airmen, Guardians, Coalition partners and for the first time, eight French Space operators from the French Space Command. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

Members of the Space Tacticians course stand together for a group photo in front of the Combined Force Space Component Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., Sept. 29, 2022. The course, which aimed at enhancing global space operations by training in effective tactical planning, consisted of Airmen, Guardians, Coalition partners and for the first time, eight French Space operators from the French Space Command. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – Space Operators from the French Space Command, locally known as Commandment de l’space (CDE) in Paris, underwent the Space Tacticians Course here, Sept. 26 – 30, 2022, to enhance space mission planning with the U.S. at the tactical level.

Hosted by Space Delta 5’s 55th Combat training squadron (55CTS), the course’s previous iteration in July of this year opened its doors to Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY) members for the first time. Now, the course has continued to expand participants by welcoming eight French Space Operators as the first-ever, non-FVEY version.

“The U.S. is getting more accustomed to working with our FVEY partners in the space domain, but we don’t have nearly that level of familiarity with our French counterparts,” said Lt. Col. Forrest Poole, 55 CTS commander. “In fact, this tacticians course was the first time that U.S. and French space operators have planned at the tactical and operational level. It is far better to identify the barriers to planning at a tacticians course instead of a critical real-world operation.”

In 2019, France released a National Space Defense Strategy making space a priority for France and outlining a ten-year strategy to protect the nation’s space assets and discourage adversaries. This strategy includes cooperation with European partners and the United States.

“The current contested space environment favors combined approaches,” said a French space operator from U.S. Space Command and participant in the course, “This includes deconfliction, coordination, but also potentially planning and providing complementary courses of actions. The 55 CTS perfectly grasped the operational expectation of the French Space Command in facing the adequate level of threat and representative scenarios to be confronted.”

The combined space trainee teams went through Space Operations Planning academics, before being challenged in delivering robust mission plans. The course allowed everyone to provide insight to their own nation’s capabilities and planning strategies.

“The U.S. students realized that our allies have very different ways of approaching and thinking about military problems,” Poole said. “We showed the French operators how the U.S. Space Force plans for a satellite protection mission, the first time they had ever seen this type of methodology.”

Poole continued by stating the U.S. and its partners must begin to plan and exercise in meaningful ways to better understand where they work well together and where they need to improve.

According to Defense News, France has invested heavily in its space capabilities by first standing up the CDE in 2019, and then renaming of the French Air Force to the French Air and Space Force in 2020 to ‘recognize the importance of space as its own war fighting domain.’

“If space was the ‘new frontier’ of the 1960s, there is no doubt that today it is a ‘new front’ on the battlefield,” said Mrs. Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces in France, in a recent op-ed for Defense News.

Courses such as this one improve integration and build cohesion within the international community to enable the safety, stability, security and long-term sustainability on the ‘new front’ of space.