Title: Space And Air Force: Rhetoric Or Reality?

Subject: This paper will discuss how the Air Force is not taking the steps required to reach its vision of becoming an Air and Space Force. An analysis of requirements will demonstrate how our current space force structure is ill prepared to meet the needs set out by Global Engagement and Joint Vision 2010. It will then address the obstacles to reaching the vision.

Author(s): Jeffrey D. Spencer; James Cashin; Carmen F. Perone, Jr. (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: The Air Force, as part of its vision for the 21st century, claims to be an Air and Space Force transitioning to a Space and Air Force. In order to reach the goal of becoming a Space and Air Force, or using more recent terminology an Aerospace Force, the Air Force must first understand the need for space and how space can be applied to meet requirements set forth in the National Security Strategy (NSS). Joint Vision 2010, the Air Force's Global Engagement, and several long-range plans all establish requirements that can only be fulfilled through the application of spacepower. To capitalize on the full potential of space, the Air and Space Force must cultivate a complete understanding of the medium (space-mindedness), modify the current National Space Policy and international agreement obligations, develop new space doctrine, and fund and acquire new space systems. A complete understanding of the space medium or "space-mindedness" can be achieved by educating the American public, the national and military leadership, and the space leadership in particular. Current national space policy must be changed to allow the Department of Defense to defend both national and commercial space assets and ensure the space assets supporting worldwide military operations are protected. Since most of the treaties require a five-year withdrawal period, the U.S. should not wait until a national crisis or space attack occurs to start deploying a national space defense. Nor should it ignore how a force of omnipresent, unmanned, pre-deployed systems would enhance the Aerospace Expeditionary Force concept with the capability to deliver combat power anywhere in the world within minutes. New space capabilities will not be cheap or simple. The U.S. must maintain its lead in space by major funding and technology development in space. New space systems must be acquired capable of fighting in space and from space, not only operating as a force enhancement to air, land, and sea forces. These new systems must be integrated into the joint arena by proper development of space doctrine, to include space force enhancement, space control and space force application missions. This space doctrine must be included in joint doctrine, then trained and exercised for maximum combat efficiency. Only by establishing the firm requirements for space systems and overcoming the significant obstacles to spacepower development can the Air Force realize its vision of transitioning to a true Space and Air Force.

Last updated 1999 Oct 13