Air Force Policy Letter Digest

February  2001

AF Welcomes Space Commission's Recommendations

A recent report submitted to Congress by the Space Commission calls for a series of changes at the national, DOD and service levels in order to create a strong advocacy and national commitment to the national security space programs. The commission, established by Congress last year to assess the organization and management of space activities in support of national security, determined that a realigned and rechartered Air Force is best suited to organize, train and equip space forces.

Air Force officials say they are pleased and enthusiastic about the observations and recommendations that have come out of the report. The Air Force is analyzing the recommendations, providing inputs to DOD and developing preliminary implementation plans.

The commission recommended that Air Force Space Command become the focal point for developing this cadre of space professionals and advocating education and training programs. As such, the command should be given the responsibility and authority for the resources to execute space research, development and operations.

Additionally, the commission recommends statutory responsibility be given to the Air Force to organize, train and equip for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air and space operations. The report also calls on the defense secretary to designate the Air Force as Executive Agent for Space within the Defense Department since the service already accounts for 85 percent of DOD's space-related resources and personnel.

The report also recommends assigning responsibility for command of AFSPC to a four-star officer other than the commander in chief of U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. Currently, the same general officer holds all three positions. This recommendation is designed to give each commander more time to focus on his or her primary roles and responsibilities.

According to Brig.Gen. Michael A. Hamel, director for Air and Space Operations, Headquarters Air Force, many of the principles behind the recommendations are about how to refocus and reconsolidate authority and accountability, and how to put the kind of focus on space that is commensurate with how important it has become to national security. The recommendations reflect how dependent the services are on space in all aspects of military operations.

"All joint operations and services are dependent on space," he said. "While the Air Force is the principal provider with the single largest set of capabilities in space for enabling and supporting operations for the joint force commander, there are many different agencies, services and activities in DOD that are becoming increasingly dependent on space and that do different aspects of space."

This trend has contributed to the diffusion and fragmentation of military space operations addressed by the Commission.

"The recommendation on the consolidation of authority, responsibility and budgetary decision making will help bring more focus to the current [diffusion and fragmentation] and really attest to the fact that the Air Force is the best institution and service within the DOD to achieve the goals inherent in the report," General Hamel said.

It is still too early for the Air Force to determine how some of the processes, roles and relationships with the other services will evolve as a result of the commission's recommendations, he said. However, the tools, capabilities, authority and accountability given to the Air Force by the commission's recommendations will challenge the service to bring about the full vision and potential argued for in aerospace integration.

"This is a golden opportunity for the Air Force to step forward and to truly bring about the critical mass of space advocacy and capabilities," he said. "It will really underpin the achievement of true integrated aerospace capabilities for the joint warfighter.

"The most important thing all airmen should take away from this is that, after an exhaustive study by a very illustrious panel, the conclusion was made that there is not another service or institution within this nation that can take on the challenges our growing dependence on space means for national security," General Hamel said. "That is a huge vote of confidence [in the Air Force and its people] and the recommendations will give us the tools needed to step up to that leadership challenge. It is going to be an exciting time," he said.

"We believe these steps will create a strong center of advocacy and national commitment to the national security space efforts, enabling the Air Force to deliver even greater integrated aerospace capabilities to the joint warfighter," he said.

Brigadier General, USAF
Director of Public Affairs

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