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Long-Range Space Plan Unveiled

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 13, 1998 – A long-range U.S. Space Command plan unveiled April 7 shows how the command will achieve its vision for the year 2020.

Air Force Gen. Howell M. Estes III, commander in chief, announced the plan, which has been the command's top priority for more than a year. The unveiling coincided with the opening here of the U.S. Space Foundation's annual symposium April 7-10. Estes said the plan "synthesizes the best ideas from the military, civil, and commercial space communities into comprehensive road maps for achieving U.S. Space Command's Vision for 2020."

The long-range plan identifies future warfighting capabilities; concepts of operations, organizations and partnerships required to protect national interests; and investments in space. Six themes guided development:

  • Space has been important in the past to military operations and will be more important in the future.
  • The United States and other space powers are on the verge of an explosion in commercial space enterprises.
  • Space is emerging as a vital national interest due to its military and economic importance.
  • Since space is a growing source of national power, it will be challenged.
  • The U.S. military must ready itself -- when challenged in space, the nation's leadership will turn to its armed forces.
  • The responsibility falls to U.S. Space Command to ensure access to space and protection of U.S. interests and investments in space.##

"This long-range plan provides focus and direction to U.S. Space Command and components," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Alan D. Johnson, command director of plans. "We anticipate that it will stimulate a healthy dialogue on how best to develop appropriate space capabilities for the nation."

By choosing the annual symposium as the backdrop, Estes underscored growing international interest in space. This year's space symposium featured the largest-ever conference contingent of officials from commercial, civil and military space arenas, according to Steve Eisenhart, communications manager of the U.S. Space Foundation. Several nations and nearly 50 companies were expected to participate.

The plan closely follows the command's over-arching themes of control of space, global engagement, full-force integration and global partnerships.

"Ultimately, the long-range plan is U.S. Space Command's deliberate effort to extend the national defense planning horizon and ensure that military space is postured to exploit future opportunities and meet future challenges," Estes said.

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