Title: Operationalizing and Integrating Space: Bridging the Cultural Barriers

Subject: This paper examines the evolution of space support and how space support has contributed to the operationalization and integration of space systems into warfighting roles and how cultural mindsets have affected this integration.

Author(s): Randy B. Tymofichuk; Edward J. Bergemann (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: This paper examines the evolution of space support and how space support has contributed to the operationalization and integration of space systems into warfighting roles, specifically at the tactical level of operations. The paper also demonstrates that the cultural mindset of the Air Force is shaped by our association with weapon systems (self-serving elitism) and not with the mission. These cultural mindsets or barriers influence the Air Force's capability to integrate new missions to support the Air Force vision.

The thesis of this paper contends that failure on the part of the Air Force to recognize and exploit the critical capabilities space provides to warfighting is driven by cultural barriers. These cultural barriers inhibit the Air Force's efforts to fully operationalize and integrate space into theater-level operations. To defend this argument, this paper will define and analyze space contributions to theater-level operations by examining the AFSST concept of operations and successes and failures experienced during its evolution since Operation Desert Storm. The thesis will deal with two fundamental arguments.

First, the most successful attempts at integrating and operationalizing space are making them organic within the theater-levels (i.e. permanent space personnel expertise and equipment located in theater with the NAFs and MAJCOMs). This will be illustrated by examining one of the most fundamental operational aspects of space; the AFSST.

Secondly, this paper will demonstrate that failure to fully integrate space support was the result of many failed methodologies the Air Force implemented to help bridge some of the cultural barriers. While some of the methodologies were necessary in doctrinally defining and developing an applicable policy on use of space, the overarching strategy falls short of focusing on control and exploitation of space, which is part of the mission of the Air Force.

This debate will shape the future of the Air Force and develop the framework on how we will fight future wars and where weapon system acquisition and modernization efforts should be focused. While the future of how engagements will be fought is still largely undetermined, one truth remains clear; space will play a key role as either a direct force applier or continue in the role as a force enabler or multiplier.

The recommendations of this paper offer the Air Force several courses of action to consider in making space culturally acceptable and promoting the capabilities space has to offer the warfighting component of the Air Force. These efforts must include; more emphasis on integrated operations; cooperative partnering in planning, programming and budgeting; concerted educational efforts at all levels within the Air Force; and a more equitable mix of senior leadership (especially at the 4-Star level) reflecting all interest areas within the Air Force. The key to surviving in the modern era demands we adopt a different approach to creating our "vision" by ensuring leadership is representative of all interests in the Air Force and the focus is on "the control and exploitation of air and space", not the weapon systems.

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Last updated 1999 Nov 17