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Opening Ceremonies of the National Space Symposium
Remarks as Delivered by Video by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Monday, April 05, 1999

Good evening. General [Richard] Myers [Commander in chief, U.S. Space Command] had asked me some time ago to be with you in Colorado tonight, and I’m very disappointed that my plans to be there and continue on to Asia have all been changed. But as I hope you can appreciate, events in Kosovo require that I remain in Washington.

I did want to share a few thoughts with you, however, because I believe your work is a critical component of our national security. NATO’s action over Yugoslavia proves a truth of our times: America’s distinct advantage in space gives us a decisive edge on the battlefield. General Myers is doing an outstanding job as CINC SPACE, and he can tell you that our space forces have been absolutely critical to our operations in the Balkans: Helping our targeting efforts; Supplying much of our communications in and out of theater, keeping our troops and commanders connected; and Guiding our precision munitions with astonishing accuracy.

Indeed, space forces have taken their rightful place along side our sea, air, and land forces and are now integrated into almost every aspect of modern warfare. They are an essential feature of our strategy, operations, doctrine, and training.

But we continue to face many new security challenges in space. More nations than ever have the capability to access space for military purposes. And our increasing reliance on space means the consequences of disruption will also increase.

In the face of these challenges, the Department of Defense is now completing work on the first major revision of our space policy in more than a decade. This new policy reflects changes in our security environment, our strategy, and our technology since the end of the Cold War. It will ensure America has the space power to achieve our national security mission now and in the future.

Our new policy also recognizes that the future of space will be a matter of cooperation, pooling the best minds and talents to map the most effective and efficient route to progress. That means an increased partnership between military, intelligence, civil and commercial space. As an example of that greater partnership, I have recently approved an 800% increase in our purchase of commercial imagery over the next five years. And a strong commercial imaging base supports a strong national defense.

Our new space policy also seeks even greater international cooperation. In the same address in which President Kennedy challenged the nation to land a man on the moon, he said, "Experience has taught us that no one nation has the power or wisdom to solve all the problems of the world or manage its revolutionary tides." Indeed, in the revolution of space, no one nation can afford to stand alone. So, while we will maintain the ability to act independently, we will seek the benefits of cooperative action whenever possible.

And in that spirit, let all of us pursue our common mission, to use the heavens to promote peace and prosperity for all mankind. Thank you all for your contribution to America, and to America’s national security.