Army transfers satellite communications mission to USSF: All military SATCOM under one service for first time  

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anna-Marie Wyant
  • Space Operations Command

 The U.S. Army’s satellite communications mission officially transferred to the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Aug. 15, 2022.  


This transfer from the Army to the Space Force marks the first time all Department of Defense military satellite communication functions have been consolidated under a single military service.   


U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and U.S. Space Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command, presided over the ceremony.   


“This is a historic moment for the Department of Defense and military satellite communications as we bring all military SATCOM capabilities under one service for the first time ever,” Karbler said. “My thanks to the U.S. Space Force, and in particular Lieutenant General Stephen Whiting and his team for their tremendous teamwork throughout this transition period. I know our SATCOM professionals will continue to provide world-class service and support while embodying the proud heritage of the Army SATCOM mission.”  


The SATCOM mission will be transferring from USASMDC’s Satellite Operations Brigade, which includes the 53rd Signal Battalion and SATCOM Directorate, to the 53rd Space Operations Squadron and SATCOM Office, which fall under SpOC’s Space Delta 8.  


During the ceremony, approximately 200 civilian and 300 military billets transferred from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Air Force.    


“Thanks to Lieutenant General Karbler’s leadership and his team’s can-do spirit, we are ready for this transfer and postured to continue our vital missions without any disruptions,” Whiting said. “We are proud to continue the Army’s legacy as we assume this mission, and we are committed to never forgetting the users of this remarkable SATCOM enterprise—namely, the entire Joint Force, including U.S. Army Soldiers.”  


With the official mission transfer, the 53rd SOPS is the only DOD organization that conducts payload and transmission control for the Defense Satellite Communications System and Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite constellations. These constellations provide mission-critical communications connectivity for users ranging from the president of the U.S. to interagency and international partners conducting global operations.  


The 53rd SOPS at Schriever SFB was activated June 29, 2022, and has detachments at Fort Detrick, Maryland; Fort Meade, Maryland; Landstuhl, Germany; Wahiawa, Hawaii; and Fort Buckner, Japan. These detachments were previously under the 53rd Signal Battalion.   


The SATCOM Office manages wideband payloads on the Wideband Global SATCOM and Defense Satellite Communications System, narrowband payloads on Fleet SATCOM, Ultra High Frequency Follow-On, and the Mobile User Objective System Global Broadcast Service. It is responsible for four regional SATCOM support centers located at Peterson SFB; MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; and Patch Barracks, Germany.   


Activated in 1941, the 53rd Signal Battalion traces its heritage to World War II, and in the 1960s transitioned its mission to satellite operations. Its legacy and history will remain an integral part of the 53rd SOPS identity moving forward.    


Delta 8 provides SATCOM and the world-class position, navigation and timing signals, providing the focal point for U.S. protected and assured military SATCOM, as well the only global utility for PNT signals to military and civilian users.  


The Navy Satellite Operations Center along with three detachments transferred to the 10th SOPS, which also falls under Delta 8, on June 6, 2022. With Guardians, Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers coming together for essential SATCOM operations, Delta 8 is a fusion of military culture that benefits from its members’ the diverse backgrounds and vast experiences. The Army and Navy members will transition to Space Force Guardians over the next year. 


SpOC generates, presents and sustains combat-ready intelligence, cyber, space and combat support forces and serves as the USSF service component to U.S. Space Command.