U.S. Dominance in Space Makes General 'Pity the Enemy'
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 12, 2003 -- Anybody who goes against the massive space capability of the U.S. mil, March 12, 2003 real-time situational awareness, real time battle management unimpeded."
Army Col. Steven Fox, director of the Army Space Program Office, and project manager for the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities, told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing that the Army considers itself the largest user of space capabilities. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Noting that space is a worldwide mission, Blaisdell said his organization has more than 33,600 people spread out in 21 different locations in the United States and 15 places around the world.
Pointing out that warfighters need good communication, Blaisdell said, "Many people forget that we depend quite a bit on commercial communications. You need good communications if you're going to get to the theater and be able to make a difference. Good communications is needed to ensure that we have information superiority for the fight."
Warfighters are also concerned about weather conditions, he noted. "You would no more go into a battle in any region in the world without knowing the weather conditions," Blaisdell said. "For the Army, you'd want to know moisture and soil content. They don't want their tanks bogged down. The Navy needs to know winds and sea state, iceberg possibilities. The Air Force will not do refueling operations in thunderstorms."
When it come to "space control," for space situation awareness, the general said, "We need to know what's happening in our space environment, not only for what we have, but what other countries may have." He said the United States has a ground system that can read the lettering on a basketball out about 25,000 miles. But it's weather dependent.
Col. Steven Fox, director of the Army Space Program Office and the project manager for the exploration of national capabilities, said the Army considers itself the largest user of space capabilities.
"And most recently, our Afghanistan involvement highlights how much we rely on space," Fox said. "Space enables everything we do, from detection of missiles immediately upon launch so we can prepare to intercept them or to deal with the effects. We collect data for analysis and use space for dissemination of intelligence capabilities. We use GPS for other space-based systems to locate targets, to guide our weapons and for navigation."
The colonel said space assets "allow us to disseminate missile data warnings to soldiers very quickly so they can take the appropriate action. But primarily, space ensured that we had an uneven playing field in favor of the United States and our allies. Space is fundamental to the way Americans are going to fight."
Space capabilities also help the Army keep track of supplies and enhance logistics operations.
Fox said space capabilities also allow the Army to keep track of soldiers who are far beyond line of sight of normal communications. Some soldiers carry transmitters.
Asked why some soldiers buy commercial GPS receivers, Fox said, "It's sort of like your favorite brand of cell phone. So I believe some soldiers are used to a commercial product and they use it."
He said a second aspect is, "when we build our military GPS receivers, we build them to counter threats. In that process, the size increases. So, if you're a soldier, you're trying to keep as light as possible, so often they grab their personal device." The colonel noted that even though that practice is discouraged, soldiers still do it.