U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific News

STARCOM debuts another service-level exercise in POLARIS HAMMER 23

  • Published
  • By Space Training and Readiness Command Public Affairs

SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. – The 392d Combat Training Squadron under Delta 1, Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM), developed and delivered POLARIS HAMMER 23, which provided command and control training to both U.S. and Australian forces, Feb. 6-9, 2023, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
POLARIS HAMMER is the first exercise in the Department of Defense exclusively focused on the command and control of space warfighting forces. Initially developed as a command post exercise, the first iteration of POLARIS HAMMER was a table-top exercise in preparation for a full command post exercise in fiscal year 2024.
Over the last several years, the command and control of space forces has evolved considerably. As such, a table-top exercise was needed to first ascertain key readiness indicators prior to rehearsing them in a full up, live simulation command post exercise. POLARIS HAMMER is the second-newest service-level exercise in the U.S. Space Force, joining the call of SPACE FLAG and BLACK SKIES exercises to train and prepare space forces to win.
“The POLARIS HAMMER exercise program is unique in which instead of focusing the exercise on winning the campaign, it is focused on a very specific operation within the campaign, allowing command and control entities to rehearse specific concepts of employment,” said U.S. Space Force Maj. Benjamin Skee, the POLARIS HAMMER 23 exercise director.
Heeding the call of the Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Chance Saltzman, Maj. Skee’s team built an exercise that not only helps to field combat ready forces, but partners to win, which are two of the three fundamental lines of effort Saltzman established for the service. 
The POLARIS HAMMER exercise program started with a primary training audience that included the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC), Space Forces Indo-Pacific, and the Australian Space Operations Center.  Other participants in the exercise included the 328th Weapons Squadron (Space Force Weapons School), STARCOM Space Delta 10 OL-B (Wargaming), STARCOM S2/3, and the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron.
“Our role at the CSpOC is to command and control space forces to meet theater objectives. To do that well, we must adapt to changes in the operational environment,” said U.S. Space Force Col. Phillip Verroco, Delta 5 commander and CSpOC director. There is no bigger change than the establishment of space component commands. POLARIS HAMMER helped us forge tighter ties with Space Forces Indo-Pacific and the Australian Space Operations Center, enabling us to see where CSpOC can evolve to better team and support theater component commander needs.”
STARCOM Delta 11’s 527th SAS presented a highly complex problem set that replicated a specific threat in which the DoD and the Australian Ministry of Defense could solve through effective mission command at the operational level of warfare.
“The aggressor mission to know, teach, and replicate was vital during the exercise as we helped participants refine command and control decision making processes,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. James Turner, 527th SAS member and leader of the Red Team during the exercise. “We’re excited to see how future iterations of POLARIS HAMMER provide training to space components and improve their readiness to defeat the threat.”
The 392d Combat Training Squadron began initial planning for POLARIS HAMMER in 2021, two months before the squadron officially activated in September of that same year. Key areas of interest for the exercise were to evaluate the efficacy of operational authorities, roles and responsibilities, and to identify duplicative lines of effort and gaps in personnel preparedness, effectiveness, and training for command and control missions.
With the establishment of Space Force component commands, POLARIS HAMMER offers the only service-organic opportunity to access Space Force abilities to plan and execute integrated operations in support of theater campaign objectives.
Recognizing the importance of the exercise, U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, the first commander of Space Forces Indo-Pacific hosted the exercise on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. This permitted 24 participants to train face-to-face in-theater, allowing them to experience firsthand command and control challenges of the newly established service component.
Details for the next iteration of POLARIS HAMMER have not been finalized. However, the 392d CTS currently plans to conduct each exercise with multiple space components and at least one coalition partner.