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Ann Arbor Spark

February 4, 2021

Innovative partnership to bring the space domain into MING missions

The Michigan National Guard (MING) is expanding its technological capabilities by partnering with a Michigan based company focusing on space domain integration by linking deep space technology to operational and tactical fires. According to the Defense Space Strategy Summary, space is now a distinct warfighting domain, demanding enterprise-wide changes to policies, strategies, operations, investments, capabilities, and expertise for a new strategic environment.

Clyde Stanfield, vice president of radar processes, Orbital Effects and U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua McKee, fire control noncommissioned officer, 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard, work in the Orbital Effects office during Northern Strike/”Winter Strike 21” at Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center, Michigan Jan. 28, 2021. Orbital Effects used satellites during the exercise to assist troops on the ground with targeting and mission planning.
Photo By Senior Airman Tristan Viglianco

“Space is vital to national security and this partnership demonstrates an enduring solution for the Department of Defense Joint Fires applications by integrating the space domain from joint targeting to battle damage assessment,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director, Department of Michigan Veteran Affairs. “The technology Orbital Effects offers is near-real time direct downlink of satellite radar imagery and intelligence data from space to tactical user within minutes of overflight and demonstrates the rapid integration of technology prototyping and capability evolution into emerging Joint All Domain doctrine.”

The Michigan Guard and Orbital Effects, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, teamed up to jointly advance emerging doctrine and develop associated tactics, techniques and procedures. The Guard offers the use of their facilities for Michigan-based defense industrial base companies to demonstrate and test their technologies.

“The Michigan Guard identified a need to integrate the Space Domain into the National All Domain Warfighting Center and Orbital Effects identified a need to develop and test their sensor to tactical end-user techniques and procedures,” said Ryan Farris, co-founder and chief financial officer, Orbital Effects. “This agreement benefits both organizations and originated during an industry day held at the 2020 Northern Strike Exercise at Camp Grayling, Michigan.”

This partnership can serve as a vehicle for MING to develop future partnerships with sensor-to-end-users and Army Futures Command and to be the Army’s platform for space-based joint fires integration and effects delivery.

“Our technology provides a theater level direct tasking and dissemination service model that enables tactical commanders to directly/dynamically-task/or retask an asset as part of an integrated intelligence plan,” said Farris. “This space based radar technology promotes operational and tactical intelligence systems as a way to increase effectiveness of the joint force.”

Others agreed the partnership and advanced space technologies serves a bigger purpose. Space-based capabilities are integral to the Michigan National Guard and are an indispensable component of U.S. military power. One base located in northern Michigan is receiving first-hand experience with this technology. Camp Grayling, the largest Army maneuver training center in the reserve component, is a premier, full-spectrum, four-season joint training center and provides year round, customer-focused training support and high quality facilities to enable military commanders and civilian leaders to meet their unit readiness requirements.

“As a premier, world class Joint Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling is a leader in providing efficient, unparalleled and the highest level of modern training,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kent Smith, Camp Grayling, Michigan National Guard. “This provides an enduring solution for Department of Defense Joint Fires applications.”

“This also integrates space from joint targeting and supports current and emergent Army modernization priorities and serve as a preferred option for program testing requirements supporting all-domain warfare to include Space,” said Smith.

The Michigan Guard-Orbital Effects partnership offers other benefits as well.

“The addition of Orbital Effects to our robust defense industry partners’ portfolio allows the National All Domain Warfighting Center the ability to provide the warfighter with an immense training capability,” said Smith. “This partnership provides the warfighter with near-peer and peer adversaries space sensor capabilities to enhance their tactics.”

“This is a real game-changer for the scenarios that the National All-Domain Warfighting Center can present to our warfighters and provides for limitless ways to test their proficiency in countering ever present space domain threats in a training environment,” he said.

This partnership can serve the MING to develop future collaborations with Sensor-to-Shooter cross-functional team/Army Futures Command and be the Army’s platform for space-based joint fires integration and effects delivery.

“Bringing the Space domain to the Camp Grayling training complex is an important step in improving force readiness and also producing better trained, equipped and ready forces,” said Farris. “Space is the newest military domain and it will take several years of experimentation and training to maintain our nation’s advantage.”

Orbital Effects mission capabilities are robust that will benefit not only the Michigan National Guard, but the Department of Defense (DOD) as this helps to ensure space superiority and to secure the Nation’s vital interests in space now and in the future.

“We are razor focused on providing the DOD and intelligence community, with space based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance as a Service”,” said Farris. “We also offer secure, rapid tasking, collection and delivery of SAR data, on-site SAR processing and automation of the Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination process to drastically compress user timelines and improve information advantage. “

The collaboration between the MING and Orbital Effects will help shape the future of not only the Michigan National Guard but also make the MING vital for future defense missions and increase the Michigan Space Economy.

“This partnership will bring additional operational focus to deterring threats and shaping the security environment in space,” said Rogers.