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Dominance in Space Makes General 'Pity the Enemy'


U.S. Dominance in Space Makes General 'Pity the Enemy'

By Rudi Williams - American Forces Press Service

Anybody who goes against the massive space capability of the U.S. military "is in for a tough go," Air Force Maj. Gen. Franklin J. "Judd" Blaisdell told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing today.

"Whether it's Iraq or any other enemy of the United States and its allies, I would tell you that we're so dominant in space that I would pity a country that would come up against us," said Blaisdell, the Air Force's director of space operations and integration. "The synergy with air, land and sea forces and our ability to control the battle space and seize the high ground is devastating.

"I don't believe that many of them understand how powerful we are," the general told reporters. "All countries respect the power of the United States and they respect how dominant we are in this region."

Asked what would demonstrate how much more powerful the United States is now compared to the Gulf War, Blaisdell rattled off "speed, lethality, persistence, information dominance, precision and the battle space characterization, bombs on target, real-time battle management.

"That's what we're about, and that's what we're able to deliver through space, air, land and sea and the capability of all of those to come together."

Space started playing a major role in warfare in the 1960s and early 1970s, Blaisdell noted, harkening back to the May 1960 shootdown of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 plane over Russia. He said, today, in one day, one satellite, the Corona, could photograph more Soviet territory than 28 U-2 missions over four years.

"Space assets will save lives. It keeps folks from putting our troops in harm's way," the general said. "It gives you that persistence, perspective and penetration, because space assets can get over areas that you wouldn't normally be able to get over with manned platforms. You can stay there, loiter there, and for a warfighter, you have an opportunity to know what's going on there -- real-time situational awareness, real time battle management unimpeded."

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.

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