Space capabilities are critical for success in modern warfare, according to the commander of Air Force Space Command.
ABOVE: FORT WORTH, Texas – General Lance W. Lord, AFSPC commander, visits with Paul Harral, vice president and editorial director of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, during an editorial board meeting here July 27. BELOW: General Lance W. Lord, AFSPC commander, visits with Tuskegee Airmen and their families at a Fort Worth Airpower Council meeting here July 27. (Photos by Capt. Johnny Rea)
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FORT WORTH, Texas – Space capabilities are critical for success in modern warfare, according to the commander of Air Force Space Command.
“We need to assure [space] capabilities are available to our joint warfighters, and that means we must maintain space superiority,” said General Lance W. Lord, during a keynote address to the Fort Worth Airpower Council here July 27. “We wouldn’t go to war without making air superiority our first priority. The same now holds true in the space arena.”
Space enables precise attack on the battlefield and has transformed the way the U.S. fights modern wars.
Precision-guided munitions using Global Positioning System satellites limit the exposure and vulnerability of forces while minimizing collateral damage and maximizing combat effectiveness, the general said.
“In Operation Iraqi Freedom, we saw Saddam [Hussein] attempt to use GPS jammers against us. That was important because it marked the first space combat,” General Lord said. “I think it was fitting – and a bit ironic – that we used GPS-aided munitions (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) to destroy the GPS jammers.”
While the general considers it a success story, he also sees it as a warning.
“My view is our space advantage is going to continue to be challenged,” he said. “You don’t need an active space program to be in the space business.”
He added, anyone with a credit card can go on the Internet and purchase satellite imagery or buy the capability to use satellite communications.
“Our enemies know this, too, and that’s why it’s crucial that we develop robust capabilities in the space superiority area,” he said. “We must protect and defend what we have in space so that we can protect our joint warfighters on the ground, in the air and at sea.”
He said space superiority is a prerequisite for success and described three elements necessary for achieving and sustaining it.
“Space situational awareness provides a robust understanding of what’s going on in the medium of space,” said General Lord.
Defensive counterspace is not a program or a goal, but rather a mindset, he said. “We must work diligently to protect our advantage in space. Our nation depends on it.”
Finally, the general said the U.S. must develop the ability to counter enemy systems through reversible effects.
In fighting the Global War on Terrorism, “we’ve traded mass of forces for speed and accuracy,” he said. “The capabilities we provide – from and through space – are the single biggest advantage to our forces.”