DEL 3 strengthens future of Japan’s space operations

  • Published
  • By Emily Klinkenborg
  • Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

U.S. Space Force Capt. Caleb Funkhouser and Master Sgt. Jamal Huntley, detachment commander and senior enlisted leader for 16th Electromagnetic Warfare Combat Detachment – Alpha, hosted Guardians from U.S. Forces Japan and key leaders from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Space Operations Group for the first Bilateral Space Professional Enhancement Collaboration at Camp Kinzer, Okinawa, Dec. 6, 2022.

The Space Operations Group, headquartered at Fuchu Air Base in Tokyo, Japan, is a new element dedicated to conducting JASDF’s space operations. The forum provided leaders with an opportunity to enhance trust and global security by discussing Japan’s future progress with their own space force service.

“[The Space Operations Group] is around 150 members, so about the size of a normal squadron in the [U.S.] Space Force, but they have big plans to branch out and grow in the next coming years,” said Funkhouser. “They are all pioneers trying to develop a way forward and find out what the next step is for the JASDF moving on as the Japan Air and Space Self-Defense Force.”

Funkhouser and Huntley briefed the attendees on several topics including the organizational structure of the USSF, the equipment used by Guardians, and how they can best implement practices and lessons learned into their own formations to build shared air and space capabilities.

“The more our allies know about our mission, the more we can help them enhance their militaries,” said Huntley. “The BSPEC was a great way to continue deepening our bonds with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and further assist them with bringing up their own version of the [U.S.] Space Force.”

The 16th EWCD-A is a forward-deployed unit with Space Delta 3’s 16th EW Squadron that serves U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in six-month rotations at Okinawa. Their mission is to defend the space domain with space EW systems for our Nation, joint forces and allies.

The two USFJ Guardians in attendance at the BSPEC served as liaisons between the Space Operations Group and the 16th EWCD-A. USFJ conducts operations, activities, and actions within Japan to support USINDOPACOM, and manages the U.S. and Japan alliance through planning, coordinating and supporting U.S. defense issues in Japan.

“[The BSPEC] was a productive and informative discussion to deepen our mutual understanding and foster strong [ties] as allies,” said JASDF Warrant Officer Ueji “George” Tadayoshi, senior enlisted advisor of the Space Operations Group. “I believe that the BSPEC is very effective to both organizations and nations for making good relationships.”


More JASDF service members may have the opportunity to transfer into space-related career fields as the Space Operations Group continues to grow. While personnel in the USSF are called Guardians, no specific term has been identified for JASDF members serving in the Space Operations Group.

The partner nations plan to hold the BSPEC annually to continue cultivating unity and strengthening the collective force against shared adversaries.

“This is a team fight, and we believe in that,” said Funkhouser. “If we are going to persevere, in the air and on the ground, everyone needs to be involved on the same level, working hard toward the same goal, and making sure that our allies are as well set up as we are."