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Army Space Initiatives Aim to Help Warfighters

Nov 08, 2007
BY Gary Sheftick

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 8, 2007) - New satellites, radar sites, laser technology and missile-defense locations overseas are among initiatives planned by the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command that will help warfighters in the next five years, according to Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell.

The SMDC commander spoke at the Association of the U.S. Army's Land Warfare Forum Breakfast Thursday morning, providing an overview of his command's wide-ranging operations -- from Army astronaut Col. Doug Wheelock returning to earth Wednesday on the Space Shuttle Discovery to National Guard troops manning Ground-Based Missile Defense systems at Fort Greely, Alaska.

"Space is important for what the Army does," said Lt. Gen. Campbell, who also heads up the U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command "and it's going to be more important."

He explained that SMDC provides commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan satellite imagery, intelligence and reconnaissance, and communications capabilities.

Space-based communications were bolstered last month when the first Wideband Global SATCOM satellite was launched. Lt. Gen. Campbell said the new satellite has up to 10 times the capacity of older ones in the Defense Satellite Communications System. He said more of these new satellites will be launched in the next few years to replace the "legacy" system.

"We want to be responsive to (Joint Task Force) commanders - not commanders in Washington, but in the field - that's where we want to go with this," Lt. Gen. Campbell said of SMDC initiatives.

He said the command is looking at ways to provide "coherent change detection" to support warfighters and route reconnaissance. Such initiatives might better detect improvised explosive devices in the future along convoy routes.

SMDC is also experimenting with new ways to provide early warning to troops, Lt. Gen. Campbell said. He wants to better integrate a global Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Lt. Gen. Campbell said he returned last night from the Netherlands where he had been discussing possible radar and missile-interceptor sites in Europe, to include Eastern European NATO countries.

The SMDC commander said America's adversaries are developing better space-based capabilities, and predicted this could cause dramatic changes.

"Until now, we've had the luxury to do whatever we wanted (in space)," Lt. Gen. Campbell said. "but I thing that's going to change."

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