Title: Gray Space and the Warfighter

Subject: The commercialization of space and its impact on operational planning.

Author(s): Juan D. Holguin; Timothy R. Newman; James M. Burlingame; Colleen M. Ryan; James B. Near Jr. (Faculty Advisor); Nancy Perry (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: The emerging commercial satellite industry is posing unique problems to the US warplanner. Gray Space is defined as those satellite systems available to the general populace that could potentially be used against the US and its allies for hostile purposes. This hypertext markup language (HTML) research project explores this issue.

The project is divided into four sections: (1) US Space Capabilities, Roles and Systems (2) Use of Space in Desert Storm (3) Gray Space Satellite Systems (4) Theater Planning. Section one begins by pointing out there is no official US space doctrine published. However, the generally accepted four space roles of Space Control, Force Enhancement, Space Support and Force Application are discussed. Air Force Doctrine Document 4 (Draft) on space doctrine is then used to enumerate various roles space brings to the fight, such as surveillance, early warning, secure communications and meteorological information. Finally, the various US military space systems and their capabilities are presented along with a brief discussion of the civilian systems the military uses (the military's use of Gray Space).

The second section looks at the use of space systems during the Gulf War, dubbed the "first space war" by Gen Merrill McPeak. The issues of what needs to be done to better integrate space into all facets of air operations is discussed. In addition, it highlights how planners must understand how space can help them better observe the battlefield and make more timely operational planning decisions. Space must integrate its activities into all exercises and training so every airmen can use space. Warfighters must demand user equipment for their aircraft and weapons which will increase the lethality, versatility and precision of all aerospace systems. Space must be made more accessible to planners and warfighters. The "space bureaucracy" is far too complex and should be streamlined and made user friendly. The space community and the warfighter need to work as one toward becoming the "air and space force".

The third section of the HTML provides background on numerous Gray Space systems, including images and text describing missions, satellite summaries, and basic descriptions of goods and services. Most of the information contained in this section came from the Internet; the remainder came from open source books and magazines. Gray Space satellite systems are broken into four main categories: Surveillance Satellites—providing multispectral remote sensing from space for earth resources management applications, and potentially for intelligence collection purposes, Communication Satellites—providing reliable global communications via radio, video, fax, or pager, Meteorological Satellites—providing up-to-date weather information, and Navigation Satellites—providing accurate positioning data for worldwide users.

The fourth section highlights the challenges Gray Space assets have on theater war planners. Space has improved the way the US military fights its wars—without their space eyes and ears they could be fighting in the blind once again. The tough question is how to achieve and maintain the control of space while denying an enemy the same. To understand the impact of Gray Space assets, a warfighter must work with USSPACECOM to obtain a list of all satellites, military and civilian, within his theater of operations. Therefore, the research project identifies satellites that may be used by selected nations to augment their military force structure. The countries selected represent nations where the United States has intervened militarily in the past or where a future conflict may take place. The warfighter must do an assessment of what satellite services are available to both friend or enemy. At that point a risk assessment must be done to help decision makers decide what instruments of power must be used to counter the space threat. In addition, they must identify Gray Space assets they want to augment their force structure, such as the leasing of INTELSAT satellite bandwidth to increase communication capacity.

In the conclusion the concept of Gray Space is summarized. Gray Space is the predominant threat to continued United States control of space. A brief description of the goods and services available is presented, with examples of how an enemy could use surveillance, communications, meteorological, and navigation data to inflict damage upon the United States or her allies. The conclusion ends with a discussion of how the warfighter could potentially combat the Gray Space threat, although no real easy answers exist. But to hope to defeat an enemy, one must first understand it-this document helps the warfighter address this critical first step.

Last updated 1998 Jan 21