News

Commanders will soon have space operations officers

by Marco Morales

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., (Army News Service, May 13, 1998) -- Army field commanders will soon benefit from the integration of space systems and products, thanks to the expertise of space operations officers.

The new functional area, FA 40 will be part of the Information Operations career field. As one of the Army's newest officer functional areas it is designed to meet Army requirements into the 21st century.

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command's Force Development and Integration Center is responsible for the command's proponency and integration efforts. The FDIC has developed the space operations functional area to give commanders a bench of officers who are space-knowledgeable.

"As we transition to space as our fourth operating medium, the use of space-based assets has become essential to virtually every Army operation, from tactical to strategic levels," said Col. Robert K. Billings, director of the FDIC.

FA 40 officers will provide future commanders with the staff expertise necessary to fully exploit the space component of information operations. This will enhance a command's ability to task, collect, process and act on space-based products, information and warnings.

According to the new Officer Personnel Management System XXI, FA 40 officers will deal with activities regarding warfighting implications of space operations. This includes communications, command and control, position navigation, weather, terrain, and environmental monitoring satellites, to satellite-based intelligence collection and surveillance operations, joint space activities, information operations, and future applications for space support as they are identified and developed.

The OPMS XXI projects that a large number of FA 40 jobs will be located within joint commands. They will be assigned into the joint arena as they progress through increasing levels of responsibility.

In addition to basic leadership and management skills, the OPMS XXI says that a space operations officer must develop a significant understanding of orbital mechanics, mathematics and physics, as well as an aptitude for automation technology and engineering. An officer with a degree in astronautical or aeronautical engineering, mathematics, remote sensing, satellite communications, or physics would be a primary candidate for FA 40 selection.

Officers whose basic branch is air defense, signal corps, military intelligence, engineer, and field artillery would also be excellent FA 40 candidates.

An officer who is either selected or volunteers for FA 40 could expect to serve in Army and joint staff assignments, theater space planner positions, satellite watch officer positions, Army space support teams as team leader, branch or division chief in the SMDC Force Development and Integration Center, or staff officer assigned to the Army Space Command, the U.S. Space Command or the North American Air Defense Command.

The SMDC and the Army Personnel Command are working to ensure an assignments officer for FA 40 is on board by the end of fiscal year '98. Officers interested in the FA 40 program may find more information at http://www.army.mil/opms, or contact Lt. Col. Mary Fletcher at DSN 327-2622 or commercial (703) 607-2622, or Maj. Wilburn Fitzpatrick at DSN 327-1964 or commercial (703) 607-1964.

(Editor's note: Morales is with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command's public affairs office.)