Army's first space brigade stands up
by Maj. Laura Kenney
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (Army News Service, May 2, 2003) - Army Space Command activated the service's first and only space brigade April 11 with formation of the 1st Space Brigade (Provisional) in a ceremony held at the command headquarters, Peterson Air Force Base.
Elements of the brigade's three battalions have been deployed in Iraq and the surrounding theater in support of Marine Expeditionary Force 1, V Corps and Central Command.
"This activation represents a huge step forward in the normalization of Space," said Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Cosumano Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. "And what better time to do it, than these historic times we find ourselves in, with Army Space forces deployed on critical missions, supporting the warfighters of Iraqi Freedom.
"The new 1st Space Brigade (Provisional) is the first and only Space Brigade in the Army. Army Space Command just marked its 15th birthday, although the history of the Army in Space is much longer than that. We've postponed celebrating that anniversary while our soldiers are in harm's way, but, this is still a great time to stand up the new brigade."
The ceremony itself involved, first, the uncasing and unfurling of the 1st Space Brigade flag by Cosumano. It was posted in the waiting empty stand, already flanked by the Army Space Command and three battalion flags. Then, while the official activation orders were read, Cosumano passed the formal, framed copy of the order to the brigade commander, Col. David Shaffer.
The mission of the 1st Space Brigade, as detailed in the order, is to "conduct continuous, global space support, space control and space force enhancement operations in support of U.S. Strategic Command and supported combatant commanders enabling the delivery of decisive combat power."
Army Space Command officially came into being April 7, 1988. Its three battalions - the 1st Satellite Control Battalion, the 1st Space Battalion and the 193rd Space Battalion, Colorado National Guard - provide satellite communications, force enhancement and early missile warning to the warfighter.
Shaffer insisted that the honors of the day belonged not to him, as first commander of the first-ever Space Brigade, but to that brigade's deployed soldiers, whom he and Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Reginald Ficklin could only represent.
"Our soldiers are over there, as we speak, doing tremendous things. This ceremony is for them, as they sweat and work around the clock, helping the combatant commanders achieve the spectacular success they have," said Shaffer.
Cosumano extended a special welcome to another general officer attending the event, Air Force Maj. Gen. Mason C. Whitney, Adjutant General for Colorado's Army and Air National Guard.
"We couldn't be doing the tremendous job we're doing, supporting the warfighter in current operations, without his people. Case in point, the 193rd Space Battalion, activated just before Sept. 11. What a great asset they have been. They, as well as their sister battalions, have been doing a magnificent job in supporting the warfighter, wherever he is deployed."
"And make no mistake, we are a crucial part of that war effort," Consumano said. "We've got Army Space Support Teams and Joint Tactical Ground Stations sections, and a host of other elements providing communications, early missile warning - everything we have in terms of operational capability is involved in current operations.
"In OPERATION DESERT STORM, we'd just begun offering the benefits of the Global Positioning System. Today, we're providing force enhancement and force protection. We've come a long way in 15 years, and the stand-up of this brigade today is an indicator of all the challenges we'll meet in the future," Cosumano concluded.
Shaffer addressed those future challenges: "Today's activation as a provisional unit is a major step in the process to becoming a permanent Army unit. The great thing about today is that it opens the door to expansion. By increasing the size of the brigade, we increase the support we give to the warfighter. This ceremony, unlike that of a change of command, which is all about welcoming a new commander and saying farewell to the outgoing, this ceremony is about the unit, about its soldiers, past, present and future," said Shaffer.
Under Army regulations, a provisional unit may be organized and designated by the commander of an Army field command. Provisional units may be organized for a limited period of time, not to exceed two years. At the end of the two-year period, the commander will make a recommendation whether or not to permanently organize the unit.
(Editor's note: Maj. Laura Kenney is a member of the Army Space Command public affairs team.)
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