Title: Space Operations for the 21st Century: A Functional Approach

Subject: This paper examines existing USAF/DOD space doctrine and the projected roles and needs of space warfare in the next century, using sources such as Spacecast 2020 and New World Vistas. The paper also shows how present USAF space doctrine and organizational structures are heavily biased by experience in airpower, resulting in an inappreciation of the unique features of space systems and fragmented warfighter support. Recommendations for change are provided.

Author(s): David R. Levy; Peter Rogers (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: Present Air Force space doctrine and organizational structures are based on extrapolation of air power concepts. This has resulted in certain problems such as complaints of lack of warfighter support, unresponsive launch systems, and confusion over roles and missions like ballistic missile defense. The space community is also highly fragmented. Numerous agencies have been created recently to address some of these concerns, but these groups may just be adding to the lack of concentration of effort. Meanwhile, trends continue including the increased density and proliferation of commercial space assets through microminiaturization, reduced launch costs, and economies of scale, plus an increased dependency of US military forces on information from space-based force enhancement systems. This paper critiques present space doctrine and organization, looks at some trends and technologies as indicated in the Spacecast 2020 and New World Vistas studies, and recommends doctrinal and organizational changes for more responsive space operations. Proposed are the space attributes of direct vantage, global access, endurance, and synchronization, and three space employment considerations of protection, standardization, and centralized space control. For organizing space forces, the acquisition, space control and apportionment of scare payload resources should be centralized in a single agency, but the operations of nonstrategic force enhancement space missions should be relegated to the joint warfighters.

Last updated 1998 Feb 23