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News | Sept. 1, 2023

Defence Space Command joins JCO global construct

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

The Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations Cell (JCO) welcomes Defence Space Command (DSpC) to its global construct, Sept. 1, 2023.

The JCO is a U.S. Space Force-led initiative that utilizes commercial providers to deliver diverse, timely space domain awareness (SDA) capabilities and drive critical partnerships.

The JCO aspires to be a global system, operating across three regional cells – America, Pacific and Meridian.

“Our partnership with the Defence Space Command will provide a significant increase in space domain awareness capabilities,” said U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Dennis Bythewood, JTF-SD commander. “The JCO looks forward to incorporating the Australian team into our mission to protect and defend the space assets that our countries rely on.”

DSpC’s No.1 Space Surveillance Unit (1SSU), will commence site lead duties leading to a JCO-Pacific (JCO-PAC), leveraging Australia’s geography, to provide timely SDA contribution to the global space community as part of a planned broader Pacific Cell.

“Space is of global significance. Defence is collaborating with international partners to maximise resilience in a contested space domain. SDA allows us to monitor activities in space, detect and respond to potential threats,” said Defence Space Commander, Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts. “JCO operational integration is also one of the ways we develop our space workforce.”

JCO-PAC will contribute to JCO’s ‘follow-the-sun’ model, with each cell around the world collaborating at different times in shifts, taking control of a mission during local daylight hours – enabling continuous global SDA operations.

JCO intends to harness the commercial space industry, providing a diverse sensor network, leveraging industry innovations.

DSpC MAJ Thomas Bittner has received his qualification as the first Australian JCO site lead and the 1SSU is expected to have six more qualified operators following the JCO-200 course in September.

“The 1SSU crew are very excited to start operations today. This is an incredible opportunity to collaborate with partners across the global JCO community and learn from each other,” said Bittner.

The JTF-SD, through the JCO, is maintaining and expanding its operational support by adding commercial SDA sensors and analytics for their protect and defend mission, enabling allied and partner nations to contribute resources to mission-share and burden-share in support of 24/7 operations globally.