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Space Superiority Essential In War

whispers of the high frontier
by Capt. Chris Watt
for Air Force News
Ramstein, Germany - Apr 27, 2004
The global war on terror is not limited to Earth's air, land and sea -- its being fought in space too, according to Air Force Space Command's most senior officer.

"The war in space really started when they (Saddam Hussein's military) attempted to jam our global positioning system satellite signal," Gen. Lance W. Lord, AFSPC commander, said in an interview here April 8. General Lord emphasized that the Air Force needs to take a defense counter space mind set so we can protect U.S. space assets.

"Space superiority is important for us. Its just as important as air superiority and, as we've learned over here in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, you can't take the medium of air for granted -- you have to protect that air," said General Lord. "It's essential to how we conduct operations. Space superiority is the same thing."

In order to maintain space superiority, aggressive modernization programs are being worked to update and replace existing satellites including launching the Global Positioning System 3 by the beginning of the next decade, said General Lord.

"(The modernization) will increase the signal strength on a satellite," he said. "If somebody tries to jam it from the ground, that signal will be raised so we can identify it and then we can go after it and the person trying to jam that satellite. We take this very seriously. That's part of the defensive counter space mind set."

Another modernization program that will enhance space support to future warfighters in USAFE and downrange are the Transformational Communication Military satellites.

"Eventually when the full constellation of transformational communication satellites are in place, it will be almost an Internet in the sky," said the general. "People will have Internet protocol-like access to communications.

"As we've found out in virtually every military operation, we never have enough communications capability and bandwidth. Space-based communications are essential. We have protected communications now, we'll continue to modify that and modernize to get to this transformation communications architecture," said General Lord.

The benefits of the new TCM system will be applied directly to the continuously changing battlefields of modern warfare.

"What we'll end up with is not only more band width capability, but we'll have 'comm on the move,' so when troops are engaged they'll have unfettered access to communication while they're on the move. It will really enhance military operations," said General Lord.

"As you've seen, we've kind of shifted the way we do business. What we're doing is substituting the precision application and tremendous accuracy we now get by using weapons systems from a combination of platforms -- great aircraft, great crews and joint direct attack munitions (which are Global Positioning System enabled). We're kind of substituting precision for amassing of these tremendous forces. So 'comm on the move' is essential to make sure that we can really facilitate operations and have the right forces at the right place at the right time.

"We've taken the strategy of which I call 'commanding the future,'" said General Lord. "We could react to something happening to us or we could try to get out in front and shape and create the future. We're trying to think creatively to make sure we can protect these assets.

"We've got a whole group of people here in USAFE and all over who are increasingly understanding how space is essential to their capabilities," said the general. "Part of my job is to make sure we educate that cadre of people and really grow the abilities from the ground up so we can maintain our advantage in space."

One of AFSPC's new initiatives to educate American Airmen about space and space assets is Space University.

"We've knit this together with Gen. (John P.) Jumper and Secretary (of the Air Force Dr. James G.) Roche's overall Force Development Plan for enlisted professionals as well as officers and civilians," he said. "Space University is really a coalition of schools and capabilities that help us have an educational center of gravity so we can do the training and education we need.

"We're going to have a cooperative arrangement with several schools and universities. The center of gravity will probably be in Colorado Springs, but it will spread all over. The folks here in Europe will have access and where ever people are, they'll be part of the university," said General Lord.

"We've got to protect our advantage and the essential ingredient of that is understanding the medium of space. We're involved in every operation -- whether you see us or not," said General Lord.

To illustrate what space means to the warfighter, the general shared an experience that happened soon after the initial combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We asked one young Marine, 'What'd you think about all those satellites in space?' He said, 'Well, I don't need any satellites in space, I've got this little box that tells me where I'm going and where I need to be with this navigational information.' And that's okay," said General Lord.

"That's the global positioning system. It's become almost part of everybody's life. We want them to know that space is there for them. We're going to exploit space to help them do their job in a great way, and part of that group will grow up and help us continue to exploit the medium of space. In that respect everybody's part of the space team.

"You don't need to see those satellites to know that space is going to be there," he said. "Its our job to make sure as a command that space is there to support Gen. (Robert H. "Doc" ) Foglesong (USAFE commander) and the team here in USAFE for anybody, anywhere, anyplace, anytime."

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