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Joint Task Force-Space Defense

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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2022

JCO executes DRAGON Army Ops days to ensure commercial space integration

By Ms. Bridget Bonnette Joint Task Force-Space Defense Public Affairs

The Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations cell (JCO) hosts bi-weekly Defense Readiness Agile Gaming Online Network (DRAGON)  Army Operations days in order to continuously develop, test and refine the organization’s operations.

DRAGON Army Operations is an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) program that aims to break down paradigms seen in legacy space operations and system development to drive cooperative space domain awareness across the Department of Defense, commercial, academic and allied partners.

DRAGON Army Ops days are operational and developmental test and evaluation events that align with the DRAGON Army development 14-day sprint cycle.
 
DRAGON Army provides the software development support which enables JCO operations and a wide array of systems and tools that directly support JTF-SD operations.

“AFRL's DRAGON Army provides a low barrier-to-entry, nonproprietary software sandbox that enables rapid integration for prototype demonstration, maturation and operational deployment," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Rishi Patel, program manager for DRAGON Army. “This allows for a continuous feedback loop from the operators and allows the developers to make changes in a matter of days versus years.”
 
Ops days provide the JTF-SD and its National Space Defense Center, a continuous design, build, and test cycle for software support as well as opportunities to refine operations, train personnel, and on-board new capabilities.
 
"I have been consistently surprised at how valuable this feedback loop has been, not only for our in-house development team and for the DoD to 'try before we buy,' but for our commercial partners and innovators, as well,” said Dr. Emily Bohner, technical director for DRAGON Army. “This enables them to identify their highest return on investment and quickly dial into solutions that provide high value to our operators.”
 
Furthermore, in conjunction with Sprint Advanced Concept Trainings, they allow commercial industry partners the opportunity to showcase innovative capabilities to the DoD. JTF-SD officials conduct three SACTs annually to further U.S. Space Command’s task to protect and defend the space domain.
 
“The JCO provides a framework to bring in the best of commercial space domain awareness capabilities and drive critical partnerships with Allies,” said U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Dennis Bythewood, deputy commander of the JTF-SD. “The DRAGON Army builds the ‘glue ware’ that binds individual capabilities into a comprehensive picture of the dynamic space domain.” 
 
Additionally, ops days present the opportunity for JCO operators to provide live feedback to developers, to stress test existing systems, deploy and test new capabilities, and refine operations as well as the opportunity to collaborate with our allies and mission partners.
 
The latest Ops day was split between July 26 and July 28, 2022, and focused on ensuring partner cells were postured for success in the triannual SACT that occurred throughout the first week of August. The Pacific cell included Australia and New Zealand, the Meridian cell included the U.K. and France, and the Americas cell included Canada and Chile.

In this iteration, participants included JCO operators, DRAGON Army developers and contributing operators, JCO operational sensor providers, and new companies interested in uniting with the JCO.
 
Additional participants could include allied military personnel, U.S. National Guard personnel and academia.

For additional information on DRAGON Army Ops days, visit https://youtu.be/JI5vQlqZrM0.