Document created: 10 February 1999
Air & Space Power Journal - Chronicles Online Journal
Col Victor P. Budura , Jrs article, the Next Force raises some interesting questions. I myself think that there is a strong argument for an entirely separate Space Force. The arguments I find most convincing come from our own Air Force Doctrine, and history.
First, we believe, that Air is a separate medium, requiring a specific kind of strategic and tactical thinking, and that airpower is best understood by airmen. Space also is a separate and very different medium. If air power is defined by its speed, ubiquity, and three dimensionality, space is presently defined by geometric placement, periodicity, infinite loiter, wide coverage, and high vista.
Second, we believe, that for Air Power to have reached its pinnacle, it needed to be free to think in its own terms, and not be eternally the handmaiden of ground power, where it was simply a sophisticated artillery. So too with spaceas long as space is subordinate to air, we will never use it creatively and offensively, but it will stay in a support rolewarning, weather, navigation.
Third, victory has shined upon those who anticipate changes in the character of war, on not on those who waited to adapt themselves after those changes have occurred. We dont want to be caught like the allies did, when the Germans saw the application of Armor in an offensive light, and took their doctrine from the Allies who failed to organize themselves for victory.
Fourth, there are very credible, asymmetric threats to our national shores, and the survival of our way of life. To ignore the very real threat of a Near Earth Object is to stick our head in the sand. Even if the chance is remote, we need a suitable insurance against something that is the equivalent of an all out nuclear attack.
Comets and Asteroids are not, however, the proximate threat. We must anticipate that a smart adversary is going to exploit, or at least threaten the medium that we are rapidly becoming very dependent upon. For any power to threaten the current satellite information infrastructure would be far more serious than closing a canal or straightthey could potentially cause serious financial damage to our economy, destroy our infrastructure, and effectively blind our military nervous system.
Yet another proximate threat is that of diverse actors possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction. Early apprehension or destruction is the only viable alternative, and space offers the most viable platform (in addition to human Intel and searching computer networks for clues) to detection and tracking, and perhaps, destruction.
We, as the trusted agents of our nations security, can not be criminally negligent in not positioning ourselves to protect our assets and populace from an attack by weapons of mass destruction, extinction level events, or hijacking of our nations information infrastructure. If we are really going to exploit space, space needs autonomy, budget, and doctrine.
What, then, do the advocates of space need to do? I think a first step is to imagine yourself as a potential adversary of the united states who would wish to asymmetrically challenge the United States via the medium of spaceperhaps China, Japan, North Korea, or a future Iraq. If space was ALL you had, how would you defeat the Goliath America? How would you cripple our information superstructure? How would you suppress or neutralize our Airlift Capability? How would you poison our media with disinformation? How would you attack our financial markets? How would you stay our Weapons of Mass Destruction capability? How would you target and surgically strike our leadership from above? How could you use the precision and information dominance of space to keep from alienating yourselves from the world community.
You must write an offensive doctrine for space, you must write offensive tactics for space.
I might do it this way. I would start by investing heavily in communications satellite technologytechnology that could easily be converted. I would invest heavily in leading edge launch technologies that would draw foreign investment like laser launched satellites, spaceplanes, submarine and oil-platform launches. I would joint multiple consortiums to spread my costs while acquiring others technology. I would send as many people to school in the U.S. to gain expertise in Satellite design, communication, miniaturization, launch platforms, particle beam weapons, stealth, and especially electromagnetic pulse technology. I would covertly design single launch platforms, multiple attack satellites that rather than destroy, would move through orbit covering my opponents satellites with a blanket that would disable them but not destroy (to look good to the world community)in a very short time. I would have a ICBM/MRV capability that would employ an EMP device, and I would target early warning, command and control, airlift and sealift assets that would effectively cut off the arms of the American Logistical Giant while inflicting little of no casualties. I would hijack communications satellites and internet nodes, and give false broadcasts of my troops occupying American military bases and capitals, of key leaders surrendering, or making deals with the enemy. I would invest in a particle beam weapon that could target military aircraft or sea assets in route and destroy them from orbit. I would have a limited ABM capability to forestall a limited attack the united states, and would stay further action by threatening attack of major power generating, and financial assets.
My overall strategy to defeat the United States with space would be to minimize the number of casualties so as not to arouse the United States populace, and to forestall all out action by checking their hands in world opinion by attacking only legitimate targets. At the same time, I would seek first to cut off the logistical arms of the U.S. so they could never build up a substantial local force, while simultaneously making it very costly by destroying major U.S. assets with multiple EMP weapons, and then pursuing a political victory by threatening further strikes against financial and electrical power facilities. To do this I would build my attack and defense arsenal in secret, deploy only enough offensive capability (disguised as communications satellites)to prevent early warning and provide cover for my mass deployment.
Now, the job of the space advocate is to work backwards, to anticipate this threat, and to think about employing space in the same offensive, and counter-space offensive mindset, and generate a doctrine, strategy, tactics, and strategy of organization and acquisition to provide a viable plan for investment. We need a Space Power Visionaries to write books like "The Space War" like our early Air Power Advocates did.
Peter Garretson, Capt, USAF
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
Home Page | Feedback? Email the Editor