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News | Dec. 20, 2021

DTRA Conducts First Joint Mission Assurance Assessment on the Space Coast

By Jessica Lewis Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Members from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Mission Assurance Assessments Department concluded their first Joint Mission Assurance Assessment (JMAA) with the 45th Space Launch Delta to assess and identify vulnerabilities affecting defense critical assets, task critical assets and critical infrastructure.

The 45th Space Delta assigned to the U.S. Space Force is responsible for all space launch operations from the East Coast. Located at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base, Fla., Space Delta 45 Operations operates the Eastern Range and launches space vehicles for the Department of Defense (DoD), NASA, the U.S. and international commercial customers. They are also responsible for mission success through their seamless partnership with launch and satellite systems directorates in order to satisfy National, Civil and Combatant Commander requirements for space access.

DTRA’s Mission Assurance Department conducts various high fidelity assessments to identify vulnerabilities in critical systems, networks, and architecture that could potentially be exploited by state or non-state adversaries or could be significantly impacted by natural or accidental hazardous events. Each assessment conducted by DTRA provides a strategic analysis of the vulnerabilities and mitigation recommendations to identified risks to strategic missions in alignment with national security objectives.

The JMAA teams identify vulnerabilities affecting DoD critical assets and supporting infrastructure related to defense critical mission areas. JMAA teams work with installation and mission personnel to identify risks that may lead to mission degradation or failure, and provide recommendations for risk reduction based on DoD Mission Assurance Assessment Benchmarks.

The assessment at Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station conducted by a JMAA Team composed of subject matter experts in Security Operations, Engineering, Emergency Management, and Cyber/Information Operations will assist senior leaders in protecting critical mission assets and personnel.

“All identified critical assets and supporting infrastructure are assessed by subject matter experts on my team to ensure we get a full understanding of potential vulnerabilities and risk to mission,” said Colonel Nathan Puwalowski, JMAA Team Chief. “We are looking at everything from the installation’s security posture to critical infrastructure, cyber communications, and the installation’s preparedness to respond to potential hazards or threats.”

As the Joint Staff’s field agent, DTRA conducts risk assessments at the request of combatant commanders or military services and starts months in advance of the two-week on the ground assessment with a pre-assessment site survey (PSS) led by our mission analysts. During the PSS, the team gathers information on assets and specific key missions identified by DoD leadership and ensures assessments address any additional interest items.

Once on the ground, the JMAA team conducts interviews with the asset owners and assesses critical assets and infrastructure for vulnerabilities to determine if the mission could be degraded or lost. All the information that is gathered is used to develop the Risk Analysis Workbook, which contains the list of critical assets, their value, list of threats and hazards, and vulnerabilities that could impact the overall mission or assets.

The team is developing a formal report with recommendations for risk reduction, based on DoD Mission Assurance Assessment Benchmarks, that allows the installation and higher headquarters to determine the best courses of action for vulnerability remediation or mitigation. Distribution of the formal report is limited.


The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is the DoD Agency that confronts WMD challenges and emerging threats. Our mission is to protect the United States and its allies by enabling the DoD and international partners to detect, deter, and defeat WMD and threat networks. As both a Defense Agency and Combat Support Agency, DTRA preserves peace and prepares for uncertainty by delivering innovative capabilities, objective analysis, effective programs, and world-class expertise.

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