April 14, 2003

THE NEW SPACE RACE:


Secretary Rumsfeld Speaks on "21st Century Transformation" of U.S. Armed Forces (via Robert Musil)
Instead of building our armed forces around plans to fight this or that country, we need to examine our vulnerabilities, asking ourselves, as Frederick the Great did in his great General Principles of War, what design would I be forming if I were the enemy, and then fashioning our forces as necessary to deter and defeat those threats.

For example, we know that because the U.S. has unparalleled land, sea and air power, it makes little sense for potential adversaries to try to build up forces to compete with those strengths. They ... will likely seek to challenge us asymmetrically, by looking at our vulnerabilities and building capabilities with which they can, or at least hope, to exploit them.

They know, for example, that an open society is vulnerable to new forms of terrorism. They suspect that U.S. space assets and information networks, critical to our security and our economy, are somewhat vulnerable. And they are. They see that our ability to project force into the distant corners of the world where they live depends in some cases on vulnerable foreign bases. And they know we have no defense against ballistic missiles ...

Before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington we had decided that to keep the peace and defend freedom in the 21st century our defense strategy and force structure must be focused on achieving six transformational goals:

  • First, to protect the U.S. homeland and our bases overseas.
  • Second, to project and sustain power in distant theaters.
  • Third, to deny our enemies sanctuary, making sure they know that no corner of the world is remote enough, no mountain high enough, no cave or bunker deep enough, no SUV fast enough to protect them from our reach.
  • Fourth, to protect our information networks from attack.
  • Fifth, to use information technology to link up different kinds of U.S. forces so that they can in fact fight jointly.
  • And sixth, to maintain unhindered access to space and protect our space capabilities from enemy attack.


Rumsfeld's points four and five are critically dependent on space-based systems. We have seen in the Iraq war how important the Global Positioning System is to today's military. Very likely the military's planned global internetworking connections (currently provided through airborne platforms) will be provided via satellite as well. Thus, point six: the key to the transformed military is control of earth orbit and of the things that pass through it -- from ballistic missiles, to satellites, to enemy satellite-killers.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at April 14, 2003 9:13 AM
Comments

Without a doubt, the appointment of Rumsfeld as Sec of Defense was very serendipitous. He'll probably rank as one of the best.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at April 14, 2003 12:26 PM

At a minimum, one would think we should have the capacity to eliminate every non-American satellite.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2003 3:30 PM

Mr. Judd;



It's standard military practice to sieze the high ground. Orbit is the highest hill near the planet. But I'll believe Rumsfeld on this when I see a serious effort designed reduce kilogram to orbit costs. Get that and everything else is easy.



Serious would mean using the private sector as we've been trying the public one for thirty years with basically nothing to show for it.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 14, 2003 9:04 PM

Well, the Directed Energy Directorate (whose

chief is, I suppose, the director of the Directed

Energy Directorate) has a ray gun across the

street from where my wife works. Not good enough to

blast satellites in orbit yet, but they're working

on it.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 14, 2003 9:35 PM
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