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American Forces Press Service

Transformation Director Says Cold War Space Approach Must Change

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2004 - Transformation across the armed forces is happening much faster than expected when the concept was announced two years ago, the Defense Department's director of force transformation told lawmakers during recent testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

"It's happening due in large part to the information and power derived from our vital space capabilities," retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski said in prepared testimony.

Changes must be made in the United States' Cold War space approach, he said, adding that in today's rapidly changing, dynamic world, the nation must continue to lead in all space operations to assure national security and freedom of action.

Space capabilities are a prominent feature of the global advantage the nation enjoys, Cebrowski said. But he pointed out that space technology's context is changing, making possible more space business models and expanded business bases. He suggested using a new and complementary business model called "Operationally Responsive Space" to help ensure space superiority well into the future, with space being more responsive to joint military forces.

At the ORS program's core, he said, is defining a joint military demand function and focusing on providing joint military capabilities for operational- and tactical-level commanders.

The progress of space transformation, which is rooted in the Cold War, is phenomenal, he said. The national security space program was viewed as a source of national power, he explained, with a clear connection between space and the nation's strategic deterrent forces.

After capitalizing on converted weapon systems to develop the ability to launch small payloads in low-Earth orbit, the United States graduated to larger payloads in higher orbits -- vital for detecting the ballistic missile threat posed by the former Soviet Union, Cebrowski said.

"Thirty years later, the military value of space capabilities became apparent during Operation Desert Storm, which many have deemed the first space war," the retired vice admiral said. "Our space forces used a robust Cold War force structure to defeat the Iraqi armed forces and expel them from Kuwait.

"One need only to compare Desert Storm with Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom to see how successful we've been at operationalizing our global space forces," Cebrowski continued. "One of the key differences between Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom is the distribution of satellite-based wideband communications down to the tactical level."

He said 542,000 service members participated in Desert Storm, and they had 99 megabits per second of bandwidth available. Bandwidth rose to 3,200 megabits per second during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and the number of U.S. forces was reduced to 350,000.

"The nation's space capabilities directly impacted speed of maneuver, the tempo of the fight, and the boldness and lethality of our forces," Cebrowski said. "In the years leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, great advances were made in distributing the global positioning system signal to weapons. This has significantly increased our precision-strike capability.

He noted that these examples and others "show just how important space capabilities are to the transforming our force and how far we've come in operationalizing these capabilities."

Cebrowski emphasized that the U.S. military is the most heavily space-dependent force in the world.

Describing oceans as a "great common," Cebrowski said, "Today, space and cyberspace must be added to the list of commons that must be controlled. One of the barriers to becoming a dominant power, he said, is the ability to operate in and control the commons.

"Therefore," he continued, "we can expect nations with hegemonic aspirations to try to erode our ability to operate effectively in the commons and to achieve the ability to control the commons for their own use."

Barriers to entry into space, which were so high during the Cold War, have eroded, Cebrowski said. "No longer is space reserved for great power nations alone," he told the senators.

A nation doesn't have to be a space power to employ space power, Cebrowski noted. The commercial space communication and remote-sensing industries that emerged in the 1990s provide power derived from space -- once reserved for the most powerful nations -- to weaker nations, organizations and even individuals, he explained.

Even though the United States is the world leader in space, the nation has taken a back seat to other nations in exploiting smaller segments of the space industry, DoD's transformation director said.

"In the past two years, other nations have launched 38 (microsatellites) while our contribution in this segment of the market is very modest," Cebrowski said. "Furthermore, our space test program, as indicated by the number of satellites launched for test, is in decline. The Cold War attributes of our existing space program limit our ability to maintain space superiority required by today's rapidly changing strategic environment."

Cebrowski noted that the expensive, long-lasting, heavy and multi-mission payloads of the Cold War approach to space superiority hurts the nation's ability to launch today's satellites into orbit. That's because they require larger, higher-cost launch vehicles with low launch rates and significant mission assurance oversight, he explained.

Cebrowski said the Operationally Responsive Space model designs military capabilities directly for the operational commander. In other words, he said, "Field commanders drive the demand."

"The demand is the joint military capability required to meet operational and tactical needs," Cebrowski noted. "Rather than treating our operational- and tactical-level commanders as 'lesser includeds,' this business model designs a capability to meet their specific warfighting needs."

This approach, he said, changes the space calculus and the cost. It also changes the risk and mission criticality variables, and is an incentive to lower-cost, smaller satellites and single mission and suboptimized payloads with shorter life spans.

Cebrowski emphasized, however, that the smaller space program doesn't replace the larger program. "Small satellites can't provide the capabilities required to meet all national intelligence needs," he pointed out.

The smaller satellites will help reduce the burden on the national systems, organizations that operate them, enhance national capabilities, assist in meeting force structure requirements and help ensure that U.S. forces are adaptable to an uncertain future, Cebrowski said.

"Today our space forces are at risk of becoming a strategically fixed target," he noted. "The cost of sticking to slower generational turnover - a cycle that currently runs 15 to 25 years for U.S. forces - is likely to be technological surprise that works to our disadvantage in future conflicts. Sound space science and technology stewardship requires that the sole superpower compete with itself to avoid stagnation."

He said getting new technologies into space earlier builds a learning curve for "big space" and provides a look at alternative futures.

"By reducing cost, increasing transaction rates and developing standardized buses and interfaces, we change our risk mitigation strategy," Cebrowski said. "This will allow the United States to lower the cost of placing payloads into low-Earth orbit and simultaneously increase our ability to put research and development payloads into space."

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