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Space Forces Have Become Indispensable

The enormity of space within modern defense planning is continuing to have a wide impact (J.Roche left) AFP Photo
 by Tech. Sgt. Scott Elliott
for Air Force News
 Washington - Sep 30, 2002
Even as the Air Force strives to meet the conventional demands of a new era driven by transformation and the war on terrorism, the service's secretary remains focused on national security space management.

"We must ensure our space forces, equipment and concepts of operation remain as innovative and capabilities-based as those we develop for air-breathing systems," Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James G. Roche said recently.

"Space capabilities in today's world are no longer nice-to-have," he said. "They've become indispensable at the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war."

Recent space-based contributions to the war on terrorism include locating the enemy by using intelligence and surveillance assets, tracking and targeting them through the combined employment of weather and communications systems, and engaging the enemy and assessing battle damage with navigation and reconnaissance systems.

Looking to the future, Roche said he sees America's military capability growing beyond the traditional role of force enhancer, to being more active in preventing, fighting and winning wars.

"Our adversaries have noted the advantages we gain from space," he said.

"Given the total interdependence of air and space power, we cannot risk loss of space superiority."

But, as important as the space hardware is, the secretary is committed to the individual airman.

"The resource most critical to ensuring (our) space superiority in the years to come is not technological or fiscal -- it's people, like everything else in the Air Force," Roche said.

"We must develop a well-thought out approach to what it is we want from our space systems and our space cadre, and then educate warfighters throughout the joint community on how these capabilities can positively affect warfighting."

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