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Officials outline importance of space systems

WASHINGTON -- Space systems today are more important than ever to the military's ability to fight and win conflicts, the undersecretary of the Air Force said in congressional testimony March 19.

"Therefore, it's appropriate that we join together (with the other services) in a way that allows us to understand (each of their) unique space requirements," said Peter B. Teets, also the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, to members of the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on strategic forces. He was joined for the testimony by Lt. Gen. Brian A. Arnold, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

Since the Air Force assumed the role as the Defense Department's executive agency for space 15 months ago, Teets said the Air Force has worked closely with military space leaders from the other services.

"There is much work left to be done, but I think we've made good progress and are performing well as a team," he said.

According to Teets, this is important because space is the enabling capability that allows the nation to efficiently and effectively conduct military operations on a global scale.

"The ultimate goal of military space is to make sure that we not only maintain, but also increase, the ... advantage that all our forces enjoy from the use of space," he said.

To meet that goal, new space systems such as the Space Based Radar must be developed while current space systems like the Global Positioning System are upgraded.

The Space Based Radar is an important program for both the military and the intelligence communities, Teets said. It will have the ability to persistently track moving ground targets, giving warfighters a tremendous battlefield advantage, he explained.

Arnold said the Air Force is asking for the full involvement of each services' space teams, and is balancing the military and intelligence communities' requirements.

"We want to build this system right and meet the needs of all of our customers," Arnold told lawmakers.

The Air Force is also working on sustaining and modernizing of the GPS constellation, he said.

As new upgrades are implemented, warfighter capabilities are sometimes increased five- to 10-fold, Arnold said. The Air Force is developing new GPS receivers so military forces will be able to take full advantage of the increased capabilities.

As the country becomes more reliant on space systems, Teets said, he believes the nation's enemies will seek ways to attack those systems.

"We need to develop some defensive capability (for our space systems) and also be thinking about offensive (capabilities)," he said. "The time may come when we must take action to preclude an adversary from their use of the high ground of space."

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