Cyber, intel integration underscored by SpOC commanders

  • Published
  • By Matthew Ebarb
Space Operations Command presented an overview panel at the inaugural Space Force Association Spacepower Conference, Dec. 12, in Orlando.

The panel of Space Delta commanders, moderated by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, SpOC commander, provided a detailed look at the organizational structure and strategies of the United States Space Force’s operational and warfighting arm.

Whiting opened by underscoring SpOC's commitment to being intelligence-led, cyber-secure and combat-credible.

“We all show up every day to protect America and our allies in, from and to space, now and into the future,” Whiting said. “Our number one priority is to present combat-ready forces to the combatant command, the joint force and the nation.”

The panel featured three Space Delta commanders: U.S. Space Force Colonels Christopher Kennedy of Space Delta 6 - Cyber, Brett Swigert of Space Delta 7 - Intelligence, and Mark Bigley of Space Delta 9 - Orbital Warfare. Each commander took the opportunity to delve into their respective Delta's missions and explain the importance of intelligence and cyber, and how they integrate into every SpOC mission set.

Swigert spoke of the advances made with intelligence operations within SpOC, including embedded intel detachments in numerous Space Deltas. He clarified that his Guardians do more than meets the eye alongside their peers.

“We have Guardians integrated with the units, in some instances sitting on the ops floor with operators. They’re the face of intel,” Swigert said. “What they don’t see are those collecting the intelligence that operators specifically need to perform their missions; analyzing and reporting that intelligence in minutes to hours and turning it around in real time.”

Kennedy highlighted the significance of both cyber security and cyber defense, with Space Delta 6 specializing in providing both capabilities for space mission systems. He also emphasized the Delta’s training program, which is training Guardians to think like attackers and gain a deeper understanding of threats and how to counter them.

“The biggest strength of Delta 6 is our ability to recruit, train and retain talent. The force we’re creating in-house, with specialized skillset, are prepared to protect and defend our networks,” Kennedy said. “There is no space without cyber and so we need to ensure that we continually invest and be diligent in that domain.”

Bigley showcased how cyber and intelligence are integrated into his unit, collectively keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in the space domain.

“The integration of cyber and intel capabilities embedded across the mission has been instrumental to our Delta’s success,” Bigley said. “Cyber provides capabilities to secure and defend our key cyber terrain. Our intel team brings second-to-none intel analysis, tools and programs to the operations floor. We’ve been able to bring together the units, personnel and training to really master that vision of mission success.”

When asked by Whiting, Bigley further expounded on other partnerships vital his mission. Bigley, who operates out of Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, used his working relationship with Space Base Delta 1 as an example.

“I have the luxury of only worrying about the operations. Since SBD1 takes care of everything else on the base, like the security forces, civil engineers and contracting … I can focus my resources, personnel and on meeting the mission.”

Whiting concluded the panel by reiterating how the SpOC warfighters are working together to enhance combat capabilities across the Space Force.

“Our Guardians have a steadfast commitment to keeping us the most preeminent force in space.” Whiting said. “We appreciate all of our teammates across SpOC, and the Space Force, who help us get after our mission.”