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News | May 1, 2023

Sole active-duty Marine brings operational planning expertise to the JTF-SD

By Ms. Bridget Bonnette Joint Task Force-Space Defense Public Affairs

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Benjamin Tuck, special technical operations chief for the Joint Task Force-Space Defense, is the sole active-duty Marine in the organization who brings critical operations planning knowledge and strategy to the protect-and-defend mission.
In a post-9/11 world, Tuck initially thought he wanted to Fly Navy, taking inspiration from his grandfather, who served as a U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mate. “I used to think I wanted to fly. My grandpa served in the Navy, and he pointed me towards the Naval Academy,” said Tuck.

In 2003, Tuck began his journey as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Naval Academy prepares Midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically to serve as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.  Tuck, after seeing the focus and purpose of the Marines at the Naval Academy, knew that he wanted to be one of them.

“So, when we talk about Marines, they're not born, they're made,” said Tuck. “The big plank in my time at the Naval Academy was the example set by Marine officers there and that's what I wanted to be.”

Taking inspiration from Marine Corps officers, Tuck chose the Marine path. On May 25, 2007, Tuck graduated from the USNA and earned the title, Marine.

Subsequently, Tuck gained a wide array of experiences ranging from his time at Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, providing humanitarian aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, to his time alongside Republic of Korea Marine Corps forces conducting counter-battery fire in North Korea, to his time in the Indo-Pacific, providing disaster management support in Vietnam.

“Our job as Marines is to stop bad guys and to help people in trouble. We are America’s force in readiness, the 9-1-1 force,” said Tuck. “An old boss of mine would sometimes quote, ‘Our job is to get there firstest with the mostest!’”

As a communications officer by trade, Tuck is responsible for operating, defending, and preserving information networks to enable command and control for the Marine Air Ground Task Force in all domains, and to support and conduct MAGTF operations in the information environment.

“First and foremost, we train ourselves to be MAGTF officers. As a Marine Corps, our fighting formations all have a command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element and logistics combat element,” said Tuck. “All of those components together bring that fighting force so we're ready at a moment’s notice with the ability to project combat power and sustain ourselves.”

After earning a master’s degree in computer science with a focus in cyber warfare and space systems from Naval Postgraduate School, and completing Naval War College where he studied operational art, Tuck was a perfect fit for the JTF-SD. In 2021, Tuck arrived here and began applying his unique skillsets directly to the space domain.

“Maj. Tuck brings a unique perspective and can-do attitude to the JTF,” said U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Dennis Bythewood, JTF-SD commander. “His MARFORPAC and operational and exercise planning experience has been instrumental in taking our operational planning to the next level.  He may be the only Marine in our formation, but he packs the punch of ten.”
Tuck views his role as a non-space entity in the unit as a critical one that helps shape joint force planning.
"I view space differently.  I'm not a space guy; I'm a Marine here at JTF-SD, but I'm first and foremost a MAGTF officer. The goodness of being here at JTF-SD is to bring the MAGTF focus, sometimes we call it 'MAGTF-ery,' into our joint planning and specifically how space can enable fires and maneuver."
Tuck now brings his operational planning perspective into the JTF-SD as the STO chief, helping shape planning efforts to ensure the plans truly enable the force flow for the supported command.
“At the Joint Task Force, where a lot of our focus and mission is in more of the classified domain, I can help shape operational plans to look at how does the U.S. Space Command fight support the joint force,” said Tuck. “So, a lot of what we look at is how can I, in my role as a STO chief, help build plans to enable the joint fight.”
Tuck continuously incorporates his Marine Corps perspective in all he does at the JTF, to be the force that is most ready when the nation is least ready.
“Marines are called to get the job done regardless, so we must be ready even if space is not there. Here at the Joint Task Force, our mission is protecting and defending the on-orbit assets,” said Tuck. “So, you've got satellites for communications, you've got satellites for intelligence, you've got anything you can think of on-orbit. How do you make sure you protect and defend those capabilities? Because space is no longer benign and there are other nations that have capabilities that can put our assets at risk.”
Tuck was recently selected to the rank of lieutenant colonel and will return to the fleet in the summer of 2024, but emphasized the significance of the JTF-SD’s mission.
“The protect-and-defend mission is absolutely critical,” said Tuck. “What we bring to the joint force and what our focus is on to ensure access to critical space capabilities to enable the joint force, such as maneuver, fires, intel, command and control, force protection is absolutely critical.”
The JTF-SD’s mission is, in unified action with mission partners, to deter aggression, defend capabilities and defeat adversaries throughout the continuum of conflict to maintain space superiority in the USSPACECOM area of responsibility.