Space and Missile Defense Command contributions and lessons from Operation Iraqi Freedom
Military commanders in the first Gulf War (1990-1991) often referred to it as the first "Space War" because it was the first time Space-based capabilities were used to support an army during a conflict. More than a decade later, the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the remarkable progress made by the U.S. military in the integration of Space and missile defense technologies with military training, equipment and operations. This article will examine the employment of Space and missile defense technologies during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the contributions made by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) to the successful resolution of the conflict.
This study begins with a summary of Operation Iraqi Freedom to provide the necessary historical context. This is followed by a description of SMDC contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom and a preliminary attempt to derive lessons from the conflict relevant to SMDC and to Army Space support. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of these lessons for SMDC and the Army. Additional information, including more specific and technical details concerning SMDC-related lessons from Iraqi Freedom, is provided in a series of Appendices that are excerpted here, but are posted in entirety at www.smdc.army.mil/.
Any attempt to identify lessons at such an early date should be regarded as tentative and treated with appropriate caution. This brief study represents an initial survey and analysis only, and there remain a number of issues that merit further examination. Given the recent nature of the events, the authors did not have access to certain key materials such as after action reports, situation reports, oral history interviews, etc. Once these materials become available, a more comprehensive review and analysis of the contributions made by Space-based support and missile defense systems in Operation Iraqi Freedom will be both necessary and desirable.
Operation Iraqi Freedom,
March 18 - May 1, 2003
Low-intensity air operations had been taking place in the skies over Iraq since the 1991 cease-fire brought an end to Operation Desert Storm. Consequently, it's perhaps inaccurate or somewhat arbitrary to single out March 18, 2003, the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the day that marked the beginning of a new state of hostilities with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. A similar problem is encountered when one attempts to single out a specific day as marking the clear triumph of the Coalition forces and the end of hostilities with Hussein's regime. Although Hussein's government ceased functioning on or about April 11, no formal surrender took place and resistance continued after the collapse of the regime. The President of the United States declared victory May 1, and it was from this date that the mission of the Coalition forces broadened to include the restoration of public order and associated post-conflict nation-building efforts. As of this writing (June 2003), however, small-scale combat operations were continuing alongside the Coalition's transition and nation-building efforts.
Ground fighting began on March 19, and from the beginning, the campaign centered on the advance to Baghdad undertaken by elements of U.S. Army V Corps and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF). In a briefing March 22, the Deputy Director of Operations at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar, BG Vincent Brooks, outlined the initial successes of Coalition Forces, stating that in these first days of the conflict, their "direct and aggressive" action had disrupted the enemy's "key command, control, communications, integrated air defense and ballistic missile" capabilities. Special Operations Forces (SOFs) had destroyed Iraqi military outposts, seized southern Iraqi oil terminals before they could be sabotaged and destroyed, and were engaged in a search for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, Coalition Naval Forces destroyed the Iraqi navy and ensured that the southern waterways remained open and maritime lanes remained clear of mines.
As the campaign unfolded, it became clear that Coalition Forces were able to proceed largely at will throughout Iraq, seizing territory and taking prisoners. The Iraqi military did not offer a coordinated defense. Nevertheless, the Iraqis did enjoy limited success when they engaged in asymmetrical warfare and employed a combination of heavily armed irregulars and regular troops against the Coalition Forces. These tactics forced American commanders to use portions of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division to guard the lines of communication and re-supply between the advancing troops and the rear areas in southern Iraq.
As March faded into April, Army and Marine units converged on Baghdad. A long and bitter urban battle was expected for control of the Iraqi capital, and it was feared that given the size and layout of the city, such a battle could easily draw in the entire force. Instead of a protracted battle inside the city, however, V Corps and I MEF engaged and defeated the defending Republican Guard units outside the city. This provided Coalition forces with what was essentially an unopposed entry into Baghdad. Although some Iraqi formations did elect to stand and fight, the disruption of Iraqi command and control systems made them unable to mount a sustained and organized defense. The Iraqi defenders around Baghdad thus found themselves forced to fight in a series of uncoordinated and individual battles rather than as part of a single orchestrated defensive engagement.
Although the main focus of the Coalition offensive was the lightning-quick march on Baghdad, operations in other parts of the country made valuable contributions to the overall military effort. Special Operations Forces seized several air bases in the western desert region of Iraq, while the 173rd Airborne Brigade occupied strategic locations within the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq. The speed of the Coalition advance on Baghdad and the effectiveness of Coalition air strikes on command and control targets made it impossible for the Iraqi army to contest these operations.
By April 11, organized resistance in and around Baghdad had ended, enabling the Coalition to redirect its forces to pursue the remnants of the Iraqi army and to begin the move on Tikrit. It is still unclear why the Iraqi military collapsed with such dramatic suddenness. The Commander of V Corps, LTG William Wallace, offered one explanation for Baghdad's rapid fall, citing the simultaneous attacks in the east, north and west, the speed of the attacks, and the placing of the 82nd Airborne Division under his operational control allowing V Corps to advance while maintaining control over those areas that had already been liberated.
As organized resistance ended, the Coalition was able to concentrate on capturing the "most wanted" among the Iraqi leadership and eliminating the last remnants of resistance. In addition, Coalition Forces began conducting humanitarian relief operations in areas under their control. In the north and west, Special Operations Forces continued to play an important role in expanding secure zones and maintaining public order. The end of Operation Iraqi Freedom was not neat and clean - there was no formal surrender of the Iraqi government, just a dramatic and subsequently chaotic collapse. In the immediate aftermath, many members of the Iraqi senior leadership remained at large and pockets of resistance persisted throughout the country. Peacekeeping and nation building activities began even as small-scale combat operations continued.
SMDC & Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Contributions and Lessons
(The current discussion of SMDC contributions and Army Space lessons derived from Operation Iraqi Freedom is organized around the force enhancement capabilities and objectives identified in JP 3-14 and TRADOC PAM 525-3-14 (e.g. Communications; Position, Velocity, Navigation and Timing [PVNT]; Weather, Terrain and Environmental Monitoring; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); and Missile Warning).
Secure satellite communications (SATCOM) are a first order priority for today's Army and they played a particularly significant role in the battlefield environment of Operation Iraqi Freedom, enhancing situational awareness and responsiveness throughout the chain of command. Commenting on the importance of satellite communications to the military effort, LTG David D. McKiernan, commander, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) stated that,
"The technology advances in our military today . . . allowed me to talk via tactical satellite communications and other means across a battle space of hundreds of miles . . . where commanders can plot out where they're at and what decisions they need to do next; and all of that put together in a joint construct. It allowed us to make decisions and then execute those decisions faster than any opponent."
While speaking with reporters during a video teleconference (VTC) at the Pentagon, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, MG Buford Blount, provided a more detailed demonstration of the importance of tactical satellite communications (TACSAT):
"Our TACSAT communications," said Blount, "which was a new system for us, enabled us to talk over extreme distances." "In Al Najaf," continued Blount, "over one day we had the division [spread] over a 230-kilometer front . . . attacking and fighting [in] basically two separate fights. We were able to command and control that, divert resources, set priorities, be able to talk to each commander, be able to see where his forces [were] and what was happening on the battlefield [and we were able to] do all that while we were moving. A tremendous capability, a tremendous success for the Army."
Satellite communications enabled OIF commanders to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively. The 1st Satellite Control Battalion, along with the Space and Missile Defense Command Operations Center, played critical roles in supporting satellite communications and ensuring information flows to ground units from the moment they first entered the theater.
· 1st Satellite Control Battalion
Defense Satellite Communication System (DCSC) satellites provide NIPR/SIPRNet connectivity, voice and video teleconference capability to the Combatant Commanders of CENTCOM, V Corps, 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Command and other deployed forces utilizing the DSCS satellite fleet. The two primary DSCS Operations Centers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom are manned by B and C Companies of the 1st Satellite Control (SATCON) Battalion. B Company, based at Fort Meade, Md., supported 46 terminals with 17 tactical communications missions. C Company, based in Landstuhl, Germany, supported 96 terminals with 35 tactical missions. Each of these companies supports multiple ships afloat through DSCS payload and network control. These missions allow combatant commanders to maneuver their units without worrying about a break in communications. Without 1st SATCON Battalion's support, the warfighter's ability to pass data and establish command and control links back to the United States would be greatly degraded.
The After Action Reports (AARs) from the field also highlight the extreme importance of the Ground Mission Force Controller to the commander on the ground. The 335th Theater Signal Command (Forward), for example, singled out one SGT Benjamin Singleton, a member of C Company, 1st SATCON Battalion, for his extraordinary efforts in coordinating with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for a tactical satellite team to swap out equipment damaged during hostile fire. After the problem was identified, he contacted the correct personnel at DISA and facilitated an authorized outage and satellite power reconfiguration to allow this team to replace the damaged equipment and re-establish their multi-thread communications quickly, enhancing the 3rd Infantry Division's ability to continue into battle. In addition, according to the DISA Europe SATCOM manager, B Company has repeatedly assisted deployed soldiers with technical expertise and troubleshooting procedures. This has ensured the tactical network has experienced minimum downtime and that the combatant commanders have received the vital communications support required for effective command and control.
· Space and Missile Defense Command
The Space and Missile Defense Command Operations Center (SMDCOC) also made substantial contributions to the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom. SMDCOC served as a single point of contact supporting Space-related and command and control efforts. The SMDCOC maintained an operational support database on the SIPRNET accessible to all Army Space operators. As a result, the SMDCOC served as a "one-stop-shop" of sorts for the Army Space operators, allowing them to submit requests for information (RFI), query previous RFIs, link to key Space sites and to receive intelligence updates. During the operation, the SMDCOC received scores of RFIs that were routed to deployed units. For example, SMDCOC received several RFIs for imagery that were routed to the Spectral Operations Resource Center (SORC). Some of these requests were not sufficiently detailed for the SORC to provide the desired product. In these cases, the SMDCOC was also responsible for contacting the appropriate personnel on the originating end to obtain the proper information. RFI imagery requests made by Special Forces elements to Army Space Support Teams (ARSSTs) were also processed by the SMDCOC. The SMDCOC ensured that the unit received the information and was able to properly use it in accomplishing its mission.
In addition, the SMDCOC facilitated the transfer of information to and from deployed personnel concerning the purchase and fielding of mission essential equipment. ARSST 1 alerted the SMDCOC of a problem through the RFI system. The SMDCOC contacted the G-4 and Brigade, obtained the needed information, and relayed it forward to ARSST 1, solving the problem. Similarly, in responding to a request from ARSST 5, the SMDCOC contacted the Mission Management Center to obtain information about its commercial Blue Force Tracking (BFT) devices. The SMDCOC enabled the transfer of information and helped the unit accomplish their mission. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the SMDCOC was manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with satellite operators and JTAGS crewmen.
· Space Support Element Toolset - Light
The Space Directorate of the Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab made significant contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Building on lessons learned from Joint exercise Millennium Challenge 02, the Battle Lab designed and built the Space Support Element Toolset - Light (SSET-L). As of this writing, seven operational SSET-L packages have been deployed to Army and Joint Space Support Teams and forces providing support to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The SSET-L has two basic capabilities. The first capability is a collection of Space operations software installed on an advanced Windows-based hardware platform. This provides the Space Operations Officer and Army Space Support Teams the operational tools necessary to provide the primary staff with Space-based information and products such as satellite overflight data and GPS navigational accuracy support. The second SSET-L capability is an integrated communications package consisting of commercial broadband satellite communications, multiplexed INMARSAT voice and data lines, and Iridium satellite telephones. Most prominent is the SSET-Ls broadband satellite communication technology that enables networking all deployed SSET-Ls with each other and with the SMDCOC and the SORC in Colorado Springs. This network provides connectivity between ARSPACE image production nodes and forward deployed Space Forces. The result has been the ability of Army and Joint Space Forces to drastically reduce the turnaround time from image collection to product receipt. Examples of operational support products enabled by this network are mentioned in the discussions of the SORC and ARSSTs.
Position, Velocity, Navigation and Timing (PVNT)
The GPS system once again proved its effectiveness in Operation Iraqi Freedom, contributing to all aspects of PVNT and supporting all the services. Perhaps one of the most significant and valuable uses of GPS was in the Space-based Blue Force Tracking System (SB-BFT), a system that can be credited for the campaign's great success in avoiding incidents of fratricide.
· Space-Based Blue Force Tracking and the Space-
Based Blue Force Tracking Mission Management
The Army Space-based Blue Force Tracking Mission Management Center (SB-BFT MMC) worked closely with elements of the SOF by monitoring aircraft and ground forces faced with emergency or "in extremis" situations and alerting SOF command and control nodes of the situation. The SB-BFT MMC also worked closely with the Coalition Forces Land Component Commander (CFLCC) by providing Near Real Time Blue Force Tracking data to the V Corps commander for the portion of his Apache Helicopter force equipped with the Grenadier BRAT (beyond line-of-sight reporting and tracking) system. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the SB-BFT MMC provided support for 400 Grenadier BRAT and 2,500 miniature transmitters. The SB-BFT MMC also provided direct BFT support to other government agencies during the conflict.
BFT received high praise from those in the field. MAJ Mark Flicker, CJSOTF-W Space Officer, pointed out that with Blue Force Tracking "the big concern for micromanagement was not even an issue. It provided a great situational awareness tool for assisting in deconfliction and I attribute no SOF Blue-on-Blue casualties in a good part to the Blue Force Tracking."
The Blue Force Tracker also proved popular with the Marines. The 5.1 MB download capability proved particularly useful. Real-time information transfer and satellite imagery was mission critical on several occasions. In addition, the Blue Force Tracking system was considered to be "very responsive" because of its instant messaging capability. Most of the commanders agreed that the pace of battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom required a device similar to Blue Force Tracker. At times, units found themselves unable to maintain VHF communications over distances because of an inability to establish retransmission sites. In the absence of communications, Blue Force Tracking provided units with responsive message traffic. Tanks and LAR used it in the absence of radios. At times, Blue Force Tracking provided the only means of communication among widely dispersed units. The system was also considered very reliable for providing friendly situation reports.
· The Army Space Support Teams
The ARSSTs provided critical PVNT support to units and assisted unit navigation by providing GPS accuracy predictions. In a flat, featureless desert environment prone to blinding sandstorms, the lack of distinguishing landmarks and sandstorm-related loss of visibility severely limited navigation and position determinations. Under these conditions, GPS navigation was indispensable and the GPS accuracy predictions provided by the ARSSTs to supported units were integrated into the ATO cycle to support precision fires and deep operations. In addition, the ARSSTs provided GPS jamming capabilities to supported units.
WEATHER, TERRAIN AND ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING
· Spectral Operations Resource Center
The SMDC Spectral Operations Resource Center Forward (SORC Fwd) provided imagery support to Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the preparation of high-resolution images to Coalition Forces that permitted a better understanding of the terrain in specific areas of operation. Of particular importance, the SORC produced imagery-based spectral products for air-drop planning. These included two- and three-dimensional perspectives of terrain and vegetation used to identify and eliminate sites that were unsuitable for airborne assault operations. Standard image maps were also created to support ordinary mission planning. The standard image maps were derived from high and medium resolution commercial imagery. Using the spectral imagery provided by the SORC and the ARSSTs working together, planners identified potential enemy positions. SORC (Fwd) also created a variety of spectrally derived products to assist units with the mobile missile-hunting mission. After reviewing the imagery products, planners were able to reposition logistics staging areas to fit their needs better and avoid potential flood areas. The SORC mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom provides an excellent example of the variety and depth of products that can be produced using commercial/spectral imagery. This mission package also provides an excellent example of cooperative teaming between the SORC and the ARSSTs forward deployed in support of Coalition Forces.
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
One of the most important warfighting advantages provided by Space-based assets is in the ISR realm. Space-based ISR capabilities often provide the first "eyes on target" in support of terrestrial military operations. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, SMDC personnel and organizations, and particularly the ARSSTs, made significant contributions in the realm of ISR.
· Army Space Support Teams
The ARSSTs were an integral part of the military effort. In conjunction with the SORC, the ARSST was able to provide the ground commander with information on potential enemy positions. Archived satellite imagery was merged with more recent spectral imagery to identify changes in the spectral reflectance of the Earth's surface in a particular geographic location. These changes were then typed by spectral signatures and analyzed to provide change detection information, e.g. a change over time from one image to the other. This influenced the targeting process and enabled ground force commanders to identify areas of change and to concentrate their forces on potential enemy hide sites. ARSSTs also used satellite overflight modeling software tools to determine which commercial Space-based sensors were able to view areas of change. The ARSST then tasked a commercial imagery collection mission through the Army Space SORC. In the period following the initial preparation of this report, an ARRST used image comparison capabilities to identify mass gravesites in the Baghdad area.
ARSST imagery capabilities could also provide critical support in a fast-moving tactical situation. When the 4th Infantry Division occupied the Tikrit presidential palace it came under fire from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and small arms. ARSST 14 provided the commander with imagery of the palace complex and the surrounding area. Based upon these current images, the enemy positions were identified and successfully counterattacked.
Using SPOT satellite overflights and Satellites Advance Notice Charts, the ARSSTs were able to provide satellite overflight times and potential friendly force vulnerability windows to its supported units. The ARSST assigned to the 1st MEF provided the Marine engineers with imagery of bridging and river crossing sites.
· Army Space Command G-2
Army Space G-2 provided support to Army Space Forces and other Army Space elements in dynamic Iraqi intelligence assessments; mobile Tactical Ballistic Missile targeting, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield support; training in intelligence, conventional threat, and terrorist threat support for force protection; and responding to requests for intelligence information reach back support. The G-2 section also prepared twice-daily intelligence updates on the general military situation and Army Space's specific mission areas, as well as daily intelligence summaries (DISUMs) keyed to Army Space priority intelligence requirements. After they were presented to the SMDC command group, the briefings were posted to the Army Space homepage for easy access by deployed elements. The DISUMs were transmitted to deployed elements and FA40s daily.
· Eagle Vision System
A key element in establishing and maintaining information and decision superiority is timely access to theater imagery. Accurate and timely imagery is the cornerstone of successful operational planning and execution and Operation Iraqi Freedom confirmed the importance of having an in-theater commercial imagery direct downlink capability to move commercial imagery more effectively to meet operational deadlines. The process of obtaining imagery from commercial vendors through the National Imagery and Mapping Agency's (NIMA's) Commercial Satellite Imagery Library (CSIL), however, can involve a lengthy process that degrades imagery timeliness and utility.
The new Eagle Vision system, deployed to the United Arab Emirates in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is an in-theater direct downlink of commercial satellite imagery. Using Eagle Vision proved appreciably faster than getting imagery from commercial vendors through the NIMA CSIL. The Spectral Exploitation Cell-Transportable (SPECTR) could receive imagery from Eagle Vision I in about 12 hours, on average, from the time the image was collected. In contrast, it required an average of 24 hours, from collection to receipt, for SPECTR to receive imagery from CSIL.
In addition to Space-based force enhancement capabilities that provided critical communications, imagery, navigational and meteorological support to field commanders, SMDC organizations, personnel and technology also made significant contributions to the missile warning and missile defense mission in Operation Iraqi Freedom. There are a number of SMDC-related components that together constitute the missile warning and defense system. These include Joint Tactical Ground Stations (JTAGS) and the Patriot missile batteries.
· The Joint Tactical Ground Stations
JTAGS, the transportable, in-theater element of the U.S. Strategic Command's Theater Event System (TES), provided Central Command (CENTCOM) with the capability to receive and process in-theater, direct downlinked data from the Defense Support Program (DSP) sensors to broadcast alerting information on tactical ballistic missile launches and other infrared events of interest in the theater. The JTAGS can process data from up to three satellites and supports each of the four operational elements of Theater Missile Defense - active defense, passive defense, attack operations and battle management/command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BM/C4I). During Operation Iraqi Freedom, a redundant missile warning and alert capability was provided by having a JTAGS located with both CENTCOM and European Command (EUCOM).
In addition, all infrared events processed by JTAGS supported the Battlespace Characterization mission area for the theater. In one case, JTAGS operators provided early warning of hostile aircraft approaching a Predator surveillance mission. As a result of the warning provided by JTAGS, the mission was diverted to avoid potential loss of the vehicle. This maintained the Predator's mission secrecy, safeguarded critical equipment and preserved the gathered intelligence. The JTAGS also played a key role in the Coalition plan to seize the southern oil fields in the first stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. By monitoring the infrared signatures from the oil fields, JTAGS provided critical information to the maneuver commanders regarding the timing and employment of operational units.
· The Patriot Missile Batteries
The cornerstone of the Coalition missile defense system was formed by the Patriot missile batteries manned by both U.S. and Kuwaiti soldiers. The total number of Patriots fired in response to a real or perceived threat is unclear. One report estimates that approximately 20 PAC-2s were fired during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most firings were probably of the Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM) and GEM-Plus variants with only a small number of firings involving the improved PAC-3s. The missiles fired by the Iraqis were the Ababil-100s and the al-Samoud-2s. These missiles have a shorter range, are slower and are therefore easier to intercept. Some accounts suggest that it was not necessary to use the modern PAC-3s to intercept these slow-moving missiles.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iraqis launched approximately 20 ballistic missiles at U.S. forces. Every one of the ballistic missiles was either intercepted or declared out of bounds and not engaged once it was determined that its predicted impact area rendered it harmless. It is premature to arrive at any firm conclusions regarding Patriot effectiveness during the one-month conflict, but it can be noted that the Program Executive Office for Air, Space and Missile Defense (PEO-ASMD) judged that preliminary results indicate that the Patriot demonstrated excellent effectiveness during Iraqi Freedom.
The most important lesson to be derived regarding the Patriot missile system in Operation Iraqi Freedom, however, is perhaps not so much related to the technical performance of the missile itself, but the process by which the missile was developed and fielded. The Patriot represents the culmination of decades of conceptualization, experimentation, testing and, more recently, operational deployment.
· Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System
Another example of such a program is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS). JLENS is not yet operational and was not deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is unfortunate, as the only Iraqi missiles that succeeded in evading the Patriot batteries, were two Chinese-made CSSC-3 (Seersucker) cruise missiles. These incidents serve to highlight the danger posed by cruise missile proliferation and the need to develop an effective TMD approach to the cruise missile threat.
Although JLENS was not deployed for Iraqi Freedom, the Army did initiate a Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) to support U.S. Central Command activities during Operation Enduring Freedom. With a 15-meter diameter, the tethered RAID aerostat was a smaller version of the JLENS platform, operating at an altitude of 1,000 feet and with a coverage footprint extending for several kilometers. In Afghanistan, the RAID aerostat is not performing the mission assigned to JLENS, that of early warning missile launch detection, but it is supporting the secondary missions of area surveillance and force protection against small arms, mortar and rocket attacks. Although considerably smaller than the JLENS platform, and performing missions secondary to those of missile detection and early warning, the RAID experience in Afghanistan represents a valuable learning opportunity that should be useful to future tactical users of the JLENS.
The success of Operation Iraqi Freedom depended heavily on improved support and force enhancement capabilities provided by Space-based assets. The Army that fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom was truly a Space-enabled Force. Secure, Space-based communications made long-distance, real-time cooperation and conferencing possible and gave tactical commanders an increased degree of command and control over their units. The Space-based GPS system demonstrated its effectiveness in Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing accurate PVNT support and by supporting the highly successful Space-based Blue Force Tracking System (SB-BFT). Accurate and timely satellite-derived weather, terrain and environmental monitoring data made invaluable contributions to operational planning efforts. ISR capabilities are significantly enhanced and multiplied by using satellite-derived data, and the retrieval and dissemination of missile warning and launch data provided an extra layer of protection for Coalition troops operating in the theater.
Space capabilities have been integrated into operations at all levels and now represent an indispensable component of the warfighting package. Although there are and always will be refinements and improvements to Space support capabilities, it is now possible to suggest that after a process lasting more than a decade, Space has been "normalized." The current dynamic international situation suggests that there will be increasing demands placed on our military forces as they undertake missions ranging across the full spectrum of military operations. As ever-smaller forces are given ever-greater responsibilities, it is inevitable that there will be an increasing demand for, and reliance upon, Space-based force enhancement capabilities.
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command deployed over 100 soldiers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with most deploying from the 1st Space Brigade and its subordinate battalions as members of Army Space Support Teams. The significant contributions of these soldiers to Operation Iraqi Freedom, contributions that dramatically improved the warfighting capabilities of the Coalition forces, ensure that SMDC and Army Space will remain at the forefront as the Army moves farther along down the road of transformation.
Lewis Bernstein is a Senior Historian in the SMDC Historical Office. Previously, he worked in the Combined Arms Center History Office at Fort Leavenworth where he was involved in creating a digital archive and engaged in research on Army training and experimental units. Before joining the government, he was a professor of history at Brigham Young University and Boise State University where he taught Chinese and Japanese history. He has also been a Fulbright fellow.
Roy McCullough is a Historian with Science Applications International Corporation providing support to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Historical Office. Prior to joining SAIC, he served as Historian with the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and the National Park Service, where his work focused on the historical evaluation of Cold War era missile sites and space launch complexes. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and is currently completing his dissertation.
1. Cited in William B. Scott and Craig Covault, "High Ground Over Iraq," Aviation Week & Space Technology (8 June 2003).
2. March 22, 2003, USCENTCOM Release Number: 03-03-44.
3. Steven Komarov, "General Recounts Key Moments in Baghdad's Fall," USA Today, 14 April 2003:
4. Given the dynamic nature of the situation on the ground, it is important to emphasize that this study was initially prepared in June 2003.
5. Speech of 23 April 2003?
6. Cited in Neil Baumgardner, "Army Considering How to Expand Satellite Communications Capabilities," Defense Daily (July 23, 2003).
7. Excerpt from Field Report, Marine Corps Systems Command Liaison Team, Central Iraq, 20 April to 25 April 2003.
8. SPECTR could have received imagery from Eagle Vision I at an even faster rate if they were co-located. To ensure the capability is not degraded, SMDC should move Eagle Vision II to Colorado Springs and upgrade its reception to receive signals from more commercial satellites. Taking this step would guarantee the Army's access to a commercial direct downlink capability until a system with similar capability is fielded.
9. Several 'friendly fire' incidents involving the Patriot are being investigated.
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