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STARCOM ... USSF Lead Operational Test Agency
by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Charles Rivezzo
December 28, 2023

The U.S. Space Force has a new lead for the testing and evaluation of space systems.

The Secretary of the Air Force designated Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) as the U.S. Space Force’s independent Operational Test Agency (OTA) for space programs following the signing of a memorandum by Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman on December 15, 2023.

Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) was designated the U.S. Space Force’s independent Operational Test Agency for space programs on December 15, 2023. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force graphic by Ethan Johnson.)
Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) was designated the U.S. Space Force’s independent Operational Test Agency for space programs on December 15, 2023. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force graphic by Ethan Johnson.)

As the service’s independent OTA for space programs, STARCOM will serve as the lead organization responsible for the execution of all U.S. Space Force operational tests and evaluations of space systems, capabilities, and tactics on the oversight list managed by Director, Operational Test and Evaluation.

U.S. Space Force Maj. Gen. Timothy Sejba, Commander of STARCOM, emphasized the strategic importance of this designation.

“STARCOM's role as the OTA for the U.S. Space Force marks a transformative step,” he said. “By bringing OTA under STARCOM’s responsibility, we are not just streamlining processes but also equipping our space forces with credible, combat-ready capabilities at unparalleled speed. This is a pivotal moment in our mission to master space as a warfighting domain.”

U.S. Space Force Col. Sacha Tomlinson, STARCOM’s Deputy Operational Test Authority, echoed Sejba’s comments noting the criticality of space professionals evaluating space weapon systems.

“The [OTA] is responsible for credible and timely evaluation of the combat capabilities of Space Force weapon systems in the context of great power competition,” said Tomlinson. “STARCOM’s designation as the Space Force’s OTA is critical to ensuring space warfighters evaluate space weapon systems. The OTA validates the capabilities we bring to the fight, delivering warfighting solutions for our nation. We leverage lessons learned and best practices from our sister service OTAs with a focus on our service’s priorities and revolutionary developments like Zero Trust and Artificial Intelligence.”

Before the designation, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center had served as the U.S. Space Force’s OTA since the service’s establishment in December 2019. Since that time STARCOM, in coordination with AFOTEC, has been working toward the OTA transition.

“The transition has been a heavy lift for all involved over the last three years but the work is really just beginning,” said U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Allen Wold, Deputy Chief, Test Enterprise Division, Headquarters STARCOM. “Now STARCOM must concurrently execute operational test and lead integrated test forces in evaluating our combat capabilities’ readiness for great power competition. The test community will be sprinting for the foreseeable future to arm our warfighters with operational truth to meet the test community’s mantra ‘No surprises in combat.’”

STARCOM prepares combat-ready U.S. Space Force forces to fight and win in a contested, degraded, and operationally-limited environment through the deliberate development, education and training of space professionals; development of space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures; and the test and evaluation of U.S. Space Force capabilities. The command, established in 2021, is comprised of five subordinate Deltas, prepares every Guardian to prevail in competition and conflict through innovative education, training, doctrine, and test.

U.S. Space Force | U.S. Department of Defense

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