Space Support Teams Give Ground Commanders Planetary View


It can sometimes be hard for commanders to get a full picture of the battlefield, whether that's on the ground in Syria or in the forests of Colorado. The “Space Cowboys” of the Colorado Army National Guard’s 117th Space Battalion aim to solve that problem.

Colorado Army National Guard Sgts. Nathan Faith and Cassandra Quinones discuss an infrared satellite image of the West Fork Complex wildfire with Matt Gibson of the U.S. Forest Service's Lolo Interagency Hotshot Crew from Missoula, Mont.
Infrared Satellite Image
Colorado Army National Guard Sgts. Nathan Faith and Cassandra Quinones discuss an infrared satellite image of the West Fork Complex wildfire with Matt Gibson of the U.S. Forest Service's Lolo Interagency Hotshot Crew from Missoula, Mont., in Pagosa Springs, Colo., June 27, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the 117th Space Battalion, and this was the first time the unit was called to support a domestic operation. Colorado Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf

Just the Facts

  • The 117th Space Battalion is the only unit of its kind in the National Guard.
  • Its 12 space support teams work with commercial and classified space-based assets to support command requirements.
  • The 117th has the highest concentration of space support teams anywhere in the Army.
  • Army Space Support Teams are made up of six soldiers -- two officers and four enlisted -- each with unique skills. The teams deploy around the world to enhance intelligence and operations planning abilities.
  • “The [space] support team allows the warfighter to see and overcome enemy forces using the most appropriate amount of lethality available to them,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Fred Korb, the 117th's senior enlisted leader. “For example, this allows the maximum effectiveness for targeting enemy forces while limiting danger to the coalition warfighter and noncombatants.”
  • More than 55 percent of soldiers in the unit have advanced degrees.
  • “Support can include producing imagery products, deconflicting GPS issues, missile warning, missile defense, satellite communications, and space as well as terrestrial weather effects on operations,” said Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Fauskee, the noncommissioned officer in charge of one of the battalion's space support teams.
  • The 117th’s soldiers also produce the imagery needed to support wildfire fighting efforts in their home state. This year, some of its soldiers responded to the Spring Creek fire, the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history.