The nation must prepare now for inevitable conflict in space, according to Peter B. Teets undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
To do that, the Air Force must begin developing space control capabilities, said Teets, who is also the first undersecretary of the Air Force to serve as the acquisition authority for all
military space programs. "I believe we not only need to think about the mission and the implications of space control, but it is fundamentally irresponsible for us not to do so,"
If the US fails to take action to secure the high ground of space, a competitor surely will, Teets emphasized.
"What will we do five years from now when American lives are put at risk because an adversary uses spaceborne imagery collectors--commercial or homegrown--to identify and target American
forces?" Teets asked. "What will we do 10 years from now, when American lives are put at risk because an adversary chooses to leverage the Global Positioning System or perhaps
the Galileo constellation to attack American forces with precision?"
Although there has not yet been a concerted effort to impair US forces' ability to use space assets to prosecute warfare, "that will change," Teets said flatly.
Her added that the American capability in space "must remain ahead of our adversaries' capabilities, and our own doctrine and capabilities must keep pace to meet that challenge."
Teets also suggested that, just as airpower progressed from being a supporting military capability to one which is now "arguably the decisive form of combat," so too will space
power evolve to the point where it, too, may someday produce victory singlehandedly.
"This, then, is the principle of applying the capabilities of a new medium--not only integration into other, existing forms of warfare but developing of entirely new ones, ones even
conceivably capable of winning wars on its own," Teets said
"We can no more perceive what such a victory would look like than the military leaders at the dawn of the first World War could envision the Kosovo conflict of 1999," he continued.
"Everything we've learned about capabilities in a new medium, especially our own experiences with airpower, tell us that day is coming."
Teets cautioned that if space is perpetually viewed as an enabler of other kinds of combat, the US will be outmatched in the next major development in warfare.
"If we limit our efforts only to application of space technologies to existing modes of warfighting, we have undershot," he asserted. Teets said that supplying targeting,
navigation, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and weather data to surface forces will remain a critical function. However, he added, "if that is all we envision that space can
do over the next few decades, than we've missed the boat."
Teets noted that the nation must "find ways to get a vehicle rapidly off the pad to any orbit on short notice"
He said, "It is easy to see how such a responsive capability could be useful for rapid constellation replenishment and sustainment, but I leave it to your imagination ... to find other
ways to employ such a capability to achieve desired warfighting effects."
In addition, he said, the US must, over the next few years, develop a new cadre of experienced, intensely knowledgeable people skilled in applying space to combat.
"We are not talking about the creation of a mere career field or sculpting a field of expertise," said Teets. "We are talking about an entirely new breed of warfighters, ones who
ultimately transform the power and scope of warfighting in the same way airpower professionals have done in the past century."
The United States has a "proud history of successfully wielding land, sea, and airpower in the protection of our nation and its freedoms," he said. "It must be our goal that
the United States carry this legacy of success into the medium of space."