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Nuclear Brief, December 1, 2005 (updated December 2, 2005)

Global Strike Command Becomes Operational

(Update August 8, 2006: Space and Global Strike has been reorganized and is now called Global Strike Integration. Space is a separate Component Command)

On November 18, 2005, U.S. Strategic Command's new Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike (JFCC S&GS) achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

The new Space and Global Strike command is tasked with implementing the new Global Strike mission assigned to STRATCOM in January 2003. As such, Space and Global Strike command is responsible for implementing and executing the administration's preemption policy. This includes nuclear preemptive strikes under CONPLAN 8022 (Global Strike), if ordered to do so by the President.

Planning Versus Intention

The role of Space and Global Strike in nuclear scenarios directed against North Korea appears to contradict at least the spirit of the pledge made by the Bush Administration on September 19, 2005 in a Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks:

The United States "has no intention to attack...[North Korea] with nuclear... weapons."

According to a press release received from STRATCOM, IOC was achieved "following a rigorous test of integrated planning and operational execution capabilities during Exercise Global Lightning." Not mentioned in STRATCOM's press release is that Global Lightning was a nuclear strike exercise that according to documents obtained by William M. Arkin practiced nuclear war with North Korea.

During this exercise, according to the STRATCOM press release, Space and Global Strike command "demonstrated its mission of providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of USSTRATCOM missions."

North Korea is described in the exercise scenario as the "Northeast Asian Country of Purple [that] continues to develop nuclear and missile capabilities." The Global Lightning exercise concept included the following:

  • Provides Nuclear Combat Readiness, Proficiency and Training Focus
  • Facilitates USSTRATCOM / JFCC / TF Mission Integration
  • Provides a Bridging Exercise Between Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Forces

Global Lightning exercised both OPLAN 8044 (previously SIOP) and CONPLAN 8022 (Global Strike).

Space and Global Strike is scheduled to take part in U.S. Pacific Command's Terminal Fury exercise on December 2-10, 2005.

The Mission

According to STRATCOM documents, Space and Global Strike command is tasked to provide "integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of USSTRATCOM global missions." The new command’s primary effort is to "integrate all USSTRATCOM global capabilities supporting the combatant commanders around the world with the full spectrum of military effects." The term "full spectrum" includes nuclear forces.

Space and Global Strike command is the first of four operational-level Joint Functional Component Commands (JFCC) that are being set up to execute the new missions assigned to STRATCOM by the Unified Command Plan Change 2 from January 2003. The mission tasks are:

  • Global Strike Planning and Operations
    • Provide deliberate and adaptive planning for kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (e.g. information warfare and space) capabilities
    • Provide rapid Course Of Action (COA) development capabilities
    • Execution capability only when directed
  • Joint Space Operations
    • Plan and execute day—to-day military space operations
    • Exercise OPCON of DoD manned spaceflight support functions
    • Provide missile warning and NORAD support
  • Mission Integration and Synchronization
    • Create a framework to share information, integrate effects, and synchronize ongoing operations among mission partners

Space and Global Strike command "optimizes operational-level planning, execution, and force management for the USSTRATCOM mission of deterring attacks against the United States," according to STRATCOM.

Space and Global Strike command is becoming operational through participation in a series of exercises. Click on image to download full briefing.

At the activation ceremony on August 9, 2005, STRATCOM commander General James Cartwright said that Space and Global Strike command will help shape "the new kind of deterrence" that has emerged after the end of the Cold War. This new deterrence requires new capabilities, including kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (e.g. information warfare and space) capabilities, Cartwright said. "[T]rying to bring all of those pieces together to what will become deterrence, those things that will keep our adversaries at bay whether they are nation states, like the former Soviet Union was, or whether they are as simple as a terrorist, and trying to deter a terrorist from coming to our soil, that is what Global Strike and Space is at the heart of," General Cartwright said, "trying to bring that new kind of deterrence to the fore, trying to find the ways to keep this country safe."

The initial Space and Global Strike commander, Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlsen, explained: "We’re involved in ongoing operations, building OPORD’ers, and building capabilities to attack and defend against our enemies."

His successor, Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, the first commander of the operational Space and Global Strike command, explained that integration of capabilities was key to making the new deterrent credible. Through integration of capabilities, by making "them an invincible whole…we will be able to design a more integrated and powerful effect across the spectrum of warfare."

According to STRATCOM, the formal activation of Space and Global Strike command "marks an important step in the continued strengthening of the nation’s efforts to defeat global terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and provide a continued nuclear deterrent."


Unlike the other Joint Functional Component Commands, Space and Global Strike command headquarters is co-located at the USSTRATCOM headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. According to STRATCOM, Space and Global Strike command "integrates all elements of military power in collaboration with all USSTRATCOM components, National Agencies, and other combatant commands to support or execute space and global strike operations." Space and Global Strike commander oversees the following military organizations around the nation: 

  • The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., to direct day-to-day planning and execution of assigned military space forces.
  • The Air Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., which supports Space and Global Strike command with critical planning expertise to develop fully integrated global strike course-of-actions across the spectrum of joint operations for both deliberate and time sensitive planning tasks and assist in executing missions as directed.
  • The Cruise Missile Support Activities, in Norfolk, Va., and Camp Smith, Hawaii, for Navy Tomahawk cruise missile planning capabilities.
  • The Department of Defense Manned Space Flight Support Office, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., for coordination of military support for manned United States space flight operations.
  • In addition, the Joint Information Operations Center in San Antonio, Texas, is available to deliver information operations expertise for planning and execution.

Space and Global Strike was formally established on January 10, 2005. At the stand-up ceremony, the command included 270 personnel but is projected to grow to more than 400 by the end of 2006.


Despite its young age, Space and Global Strike has already been involved in several exercises, spanning from regional operations to strategic nuclear warfare:

  • August 22-September 3, 2005: Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) 2005, a U.S. Pacific Command exercise conducted with US Forces Korea (USFK) and the armed forces of the Republic of Korea (ROK). The exercise was a US-ROK, simulation-driven, OPLAN oriented Command Post Exercise (CPX) comprising of two events: Ulchi - a ROK national mobilization exercise involving several hundred thousand ROK citizens practicing wartime activation and traveling to mobilization sites; and Focus Lens - a CFC warfighting CPX. Although there are a significant number of personnel involved with the mobilization portion, this exercise is separate and distinct from the CPX. UFL is the Combined Forces Command (CFC) CDR's premier annual war fighting exercise. During the exercise 3,000 U.S. personnel were moved to the Korean Peninsula to augment the CFC/USFK staff. The executive agent for UFL is USFK.
  • August 4 (changed from September 19-25), 2005: Operation Able Warrior involved Task Force Baghdad Soldiers attempting to defeat terror cells operating west of the Baghdad International Airport in the early-morning hours of Aug. 4. The objective of Able Warrior was to disrupt car bombing cells and roadside bomb emplacers, and prevent them from planning, preparing and carrying out terrorist attacks in the area. In less than three hours, Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division conducted a series of simultaneous attacks and captured 41 suspected terrorists, including three foreign fighters.
  • November 1-10, 2005: STRATCOM’s Global Lightning nuclear weapons exercise. According to William M. Arkin, the exercise was scheduled to rehearse military operations during a trans-/post-attack nuclear environment, including reconstitution, redirection and targeting of STRATCOM forces.
    During this exercise, according to STRATCOM, Space and Global Strike underwent "a rigorous test of integrated planning and operational execution capabilities" and "demonstrated its mission of providing integrated space and global strike capabilities to deter and dissuade aggressors and when directed, defeat adversaries through decisive joint global effects in support of USSTRATCOM missions."
  • December 2-10, 2005: Pacific Command's Terminal Fury high-level exercise to be held at at US Pacific Command (PACOM) Headquarters located at Camp Smith, Hawaii.

IOC was initially planned for November 15, 2005. Full Operational Capability (FOC) is tentatively scheduled for September 30, 2006.

See also:

» Space and Global Strike Component Command Concept of Operations
» Report: Global Strike Chronology

© Hans M. Kristensen/Federation of American Scientists | www.nukestrat.com | 2004-2006

download documents:

» U.S. Strategic Command, Media Release No. 05-1201, "Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike Achieves Initial Operational Capability," n.d. [received December 1, 2005].

» Briefing, Jim Creighton, Col/USAF, USSTRATCOM, "JFCC Space and Global Strike, Command Update to the Space & Missile Conference," August 2005. [1.06 MB]
Partially declassified and released under FOIA.

» Briefing (excerpts) on Vigilant Shield, Global Storm, and Global Lightning, 2005.
Obtained by William M. Arkin.

background information

» Hans M. Kristensen, "Preparing For Deterrence Failure," Royal Canadian Military Institute SITREP, Vol. 65, No. 6, November/December 2005.

» Hans M. Kristensen, "Global Strike," Federation of American Scientists, March 2006.

» William M. Arkin, "Not Just A Last Resort," Washington Post, May 15, 2005, p. B01.

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  © Hans M. Kristensen