Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The United States Space Corps - Part IV

As the U.S. House of representatives passed the Space Corps legislation on Friday, former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) Gen. C. Robert Kehler (Ret.) argued against it at a seminar across town at a meeting sponsored by George Washington University's Space Policy Institute and the Aerospace Corporation.

Gen. Kehler [right] who also headed Air Force Space Command from 2007-2011 said the proposed solution does not fit the problem, which is acquisition.  "That's why people are frustrated," not because of how DOD is organized.  "Most organizational change doesn't fix the problem and is a distraction," costs more than expected and soon changes again.  "The space enterprise is filled with examples of the wreckage of some of the other things we've tried."

The problem that needs to be solved is how to "posture ourselves to be prepared for conflict that extends into space" the same way we think about conflict extending into air or sea. "We know how to do this," Kehler insisted.  It is a matter of "the grunt work of joint warfighting" and the military services providing combatant commanders with "forces that can operate and accomplish their missions in the face of a contested domain."  Reorganization is not the answer.  "We have a warfighting organization in place today with all the authority and responsibility necessary.  It's called STRATCOM."

Donley agreed. "I don't favour this proposal.  It is the opposite of the trends we're trying to achieve" of integrating space into airspace and cyberspace.  The result will be more bureaucracy, "exactly what Congress has been telling the Department not to do." Kehler summed it up by repeating that the problem is acquisition. "That's what we need to fix" and it's not magic. Many studies have been done.  "We know what's broken. Fix it."

Brigadier General Ballista Jackson USAF (Ret.) [left] who formerly served as Missile Defence Commander (Northern) for UNETIDA one of the precursor organisations to today's SPEARHEAD gave a different opinion. "Not long before I retired we ran an exercise to destroy space targets on course to earth, one towards North America, the other towards Russia. The Russians launched within 6 minutes, and destroyed their target well before it was in range. The US launched within 11 minutes and destroyed the target but not before it was in already within attack range of the U.S. Eastern seaboard."

"Bureaucracy" said Jackson who currently advises the National Security Council's Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy "Is the single most delaying factor in U.S. military action and is even worse when dealing with space than it is with missiles. It took five cuts of red tape for our instructions to be acted upon by STRATCOM whereas the Strategic Rocket Forces of the Russian Federation were almost gleeful at the prospects of launching an interception missile. We don't envision bypassing the executive, but we need to bypass the unified command and service bureaucracy and sub-organisations of both before we were able to act especially on space matters. I firmly believe a single separate Space Corps would allow SPEARHEAD's task to be much more fluid in that regard."


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