Los Angeles CA (AFNS) Nov 26, 2008
Solid leadership and the coordination of resources will enable the United States to retain its leadership in space, Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley said Nov. 21 during the Air Force Association's Global War Symposium in Los Angeles.
Strong government and collaboration among leaders also will be required, said Secretary Donley, who described Airmen as "the connective tissue" across the national security space enterprise.
"Space is an interagency domain, and for decades, the United States, and Airmen in particular, have sought to be good stewards of (it)," he said.
Secretary Donley spoke about the service's space mission and its plan to reinvigorate its nuclear enterprise during the keynote address at the two-day AFA gathering, the final event during Air Force Week, a celebration held at three cities annually the past two years.
He provided an update on his proposal to establish the provisional Global Strike Command by the end of the year to provide singular focus on nuclear operations, and he briefly discussed a plan to launch a numbered air force under Air Force Space Command to focus on cyber operations.
Speaking to an audience made up largely of officers from nearby Los Angeles Air Force Base, home to the Space and Missile Systems Center, Secretary Donley said the time is ripe to discuss how to better organize and manage the national security space enterprise.
In the Department of Defense, the Air Force secretary is designated as the executive agent for space, though four under secretaries and assistant secretaries reporting to the secretary of defense also retain oversight. The secretary of defense and under secretary of defense are the ultimate decision makers in defense space matters, he said.
"Moving forward, my sense is that we need to forge a new path," said Secretary Donley. "Space-based capabilities constitute joint, interagency and national interests. They are national assets. Our challenge is to find ways to streamline and strengthen interagency governance of the space enterprise."
Air Force officials are taking a close look at the Department of Defense and interagency space management and organization to provide President-elect Obama's administration "with a clear sense of the issues facing us today and their underlying root causes to lay the foundation for a well-informed discussion of the issues," Secretary Donley said.
Secretary Donley said the Air Force's aging air and space fleets must be modernized.
"We need to ensure that we prudently field new systems to meet emerging requirements and replace hardware that is, in many cases, aging out," he said. "This is perhaps most dramatic for our space systems, for which no service life extension or depot upgrades are possible."
The secretary also said the new administration will have aircraft acquisition decisions to make regarding F-22 Raptor, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-X tanker development. The nation's space-borne early warning systems are critical, he said.
"They provide missile warning, while intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites permit us insight into strategic intent. (They) contribute directly, and immeasurably, to the nation's nuclear deterrence and to our awareness and understanding of global events," he said.
The ability of Air Force specialists to collect weather and remote sensing data from space-based systems is also critical, he said.
Information from space systems supports a broad range of national missions, from disaster relief and humanitarian operations "to targeting for precision strike," he said.
Satellite communications allow Global Hawk, Predator and Reaper systems to be flown overseas by operators in the continental U.S. They also permit the command and control of nuclear forces, he said.
Commercial companies and the public benefit as well from Air Force technology. Global transportation and ATMs depend on the precision and reliability of the Global Positioning Systems.
"GPS and other space systems are now part of the engine of American industry and also the global economy," he said. "Commercial and national security reliance on these space-based capabilities is now pretty interdependent."
About 10,000 Air Force space professionals ensure the viability and safety of Air Force on-orbit systems, tailoring space activities to the needs of national leaders and combatant commanders. More than 1,900 of them work in joint or interagency positions.
Airmen operate more than 120 satellites for a broad range of sister service, joint and interagency partners, whose appetite for space-based capabilities continue to increase, said Secretary Donley.
Funding for space systems has increased steadily since 2000 and now represents 11 percent of the Air Force budget.
Secretary Donley said the national security space enterprise faces key challenges in that the space industry is changing, consensus about the country's space future "remains elusive" and leaders "have yet to realize a vision for space."
Corporate consolidation is changing the dynamics of the space industrial base, he said, and new mission areas are emerging, including space protection and space situational awareness, the ability to find, track, identify and characterize space objects.
"The number of objects in the earth's orbit is increasing," said Secretary Donley. "As a result, we need to enhance our capabilities to track these items and to assess their purpose and, and when necessary, their intent."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
US Air Force Association
Military Space News at SpaceWar.com
US Congress warned of Chinese cyber, space threats
Washington (AFP) Nov 21, 2008
China has developed a sophisticated cyber warfare program and stepped up its capacity to penetrate US computer networks to extract sensitive information, a US congressional panel warned on Thursday.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|