By Maj. Ken Scholz, Air Command and Staff College
/ Published October 16, 2020
Military members from all branches of service, including the new U.S. Space Force, and international officers from five countries are coming to Air University in Montgomery, Alabama, to study space.
Their studies are with the Schriever Space Scholars at Air University’s Air Command and Staff College.
Schriever Space Scholars began in 2018 as a study concentration and the nation’s first space-centric military developmental education opportunity. The Schriever Space Scholars is now housed in its own department, the Department of Spacepower.
“We started with one seminar of students,” said Dr. Andrea Harrington, Spacepower Department chair. “We’ll teach two seminars this year and four next. So, the department and the number of students we are educating is growing rapidly. That’s important because space, and our place in it, has never been more essential.”
What does such a space school look like? For one, it functions both as a specialized study program for competitively selected seminar members as well as a means of increasing and deepening space education for all mid-career military students attending Air Command and Staff College.
“In our seminars, we’re really focused on developing the world’s premier space strategists and leaders,” said Dr. Brent Ziarnick, Spacepower I course director. “This includes not only U.S. military officers but international partners and government civilians. At the same time, we’re fostering critical thinking about the space domain in each of the leaders who attends the larger ACSC class, regardless of their service or job. We’re doing that by growing the amount of space curriculum in core classes as well as opportunities for students.”
For students in the Schriever Space Scholars, those opportunities include participating in space war games, traveling to meet with leaders and experts throughout the U.S. military, interagency and civilian space enterprise and developing a personal research capstone project to present to U.S. Space Force leaders at the culmination of their studies.
It makes sense then, that beyond growing tomorrow’s national space strategists, the department faculty actively advise U.S. leaders in the Department of Defense, Department of State, National Science and Technology Council and global organizations such as the United Nations on a variety of space policy and strategy issues.
“Our number one job is to teach,” said Dr. M.V. “Coyote” Smith, Spacepower II course director. “But because our faculty members have been in the space policy, legal or military worlds and studying this stuff for decades, we take every opportunity for outreach or to write about current space issues. Doing so keeps our scholarship, and our students, up to date about developments in the domain.”
One recent graduate of the program, Army Maj. Benjamin M. Staats, said the program expanded his comprehension and thinking.
"When conducting space operations, you always have to consider the strategic implications," he said. "So deepening my understanding of space policies and strategies has vastly enhanced how I now approach thinking about the space domain. Learning from some of the best scholars in this field and engaging with space experts from across the country, I am now more prepared to help solve the complex and challenging space problems we're facing today and in the future."
Originally sponsored by Air Force Space Command, the Schriever Space Scholars concentration now teaches space history, strategy, operations and policy to support the U.S. Space Force and joint force professionals.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Dr. Everett Dolman, Schriever Space Scholars research director. “We’re expanding this department for a new service branch in an already accomplished academic institution. We also realize how important and needed this education is. Those we teach now will be the ones leading America’s future in the final frontier.”
(Editor’s note: The author is the deputy, Schriever Space Scholars)