Support from space capabilities earned a large vote of confidence from the commander of Pacific Air Forces during a National Space Symposium presentation at the Broadmoor Hotel April 7.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Support from space capabilities earned a large vote of confidence from the commander of Pacific Air Forces during a National Space Symposium presentation at the Broadmoor Hotel April 7.
“[Space] is a capability all of us need. It’s how we will shape the U.S. presence in the Pacific for the next several years and we apply it to daily operations as we see them today,”
Gen. Paul V. Hester detailed how his Airmen rely on space forces each day in a theater which spans 16 time zones and 10.5 million square miles. The Pacific covers “half the world surface. Most is covered with water, but 100 percent of it is covered by air and space,” the general said.
“[Space] is a capability all of us need. It’s how we will shape the U.S. presence in the Pacific for the next several years and we apply it to daily operations as we see them today,” said the 34-year Air Force veteran.
More than 60 percent of the world population resides within the Pacific’s boundaries speaking 1,000 different languages. The economic impact of the region has grown to account for 30 percent of the United States’ trade each year.
China and India are examples of nations whose influence is growing and “commercial and military competition go hand in hand,” he said. “Other countries have learned from us, studied us and bought from us. They challenge is in imaginative ways forcing us to rethink the way in which our transformation is done.
“It’s important for its size, population and economic impact.” To emphasize the point, he quoted President George W. Bush from 2002 saying “the success of this region is essential to the entire world. I’m convinced that the 21st Century will be the Pacific Century.”
U.S. citizens have grown up in an era where national policy is focused on Europe, he explained. “But there’s no NATO in the Pacific. That challenges us in how to do unilateral operations.”
Communication is a fundamental service space professionals provide in the region and the need for it on the battlefield is critical said General Hester echoing a recent statement from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers.
“In an area as large as the Pacific, communication is needed not only to fight American battles, but for humanitarian outreach efforts as well,” General Hester said. “It puts the right equipment in the right spot at the right time to help the right people.”
Space plays a vital role in combating terrorism in the Pacific, he said. United States and regional partners’ efforts to track missile sales, illicit drug trade and piracy are aided by satellite technology. “We see it and counter it with intel [gathered] through space,” General Hester said.
Air Force Space Command’s Director of Air and Space Operations, Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Fraser reinforced the value of space in the Pacific during a four-person panel following General Hester’s speech. Other panel members covered the topic from industry, research and U.S. Army perspectives.
General Fraser detailed how the space command brings space-based capabilities to theater commanders and discussed the need to keep looking ahead as well. Referring to a recent article that claimed the United States controls space, he responded saying “The United States is the biggest user right now, but I don’t think anyone controls space.”
To keep the country at the front of space implementation in the region, space professionals have been embedded in U.S. Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Forces Korea.
“This will make sure space capability is integrated throughout operations and not as an afterthought,” General Fraser said.
Access to secure communication is high on the Pacific Air Forces commander’s agenda. The resource will allow U.S. forces to shape future battlefields in order to save lives, General Hester said.
“Battle is not always sending young troops into harm’s way to pull a trigger,” he said. “We want to shape the battle early enough so we don’t have to put our children and others’ children into harm’s way.”