In Space

By Dan Dupont / October 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A quick note today on a new Inside the Air Force story about the future of space -- that is, the U.S. military's dominance of space.

Retired Maj. Gen. James Armor -- former director of the National Security Space Office -- talked about what the next president should do during an Oct. 16 panel discussion -- dubbed “A Day Without Space” -- in Washington. A career space officer, the retired two-star also held the position of program manager of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning Systems Joint Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force base between 1996 and 1999.

. . . Armor said a loss of the country’s space assets means “that we, the United States, have gotten to a point where we’re looking at a decade without U.S. preeminence in space, and that would be, I think, a terrible tragedy. I think space preeminence is essential to being a great power. Primarily, it is ensuring the physical security of the homeland. Without space, I’m not sure we could do it. It is absolutely essential to the security of the homeland. Furthermore, it also provides for the general welfare in the sense of peaceful use of space for all free nations, not just the United States. I’m not convinced that, if the United States doesn’t sustain its preeminence in space, that we can guarantee that peaceful use of space.”

Making space a national priority and assigning “commensurate resources” is an “urgent, compelling priority,” Armor said, adding that space is still a “secondary thought” in the Air Force and needs to be a “principal priority.” . . .

After the next president makes securing the space domain a national priority, he needs to assign “accountable leadership” to ensure the United States keeps its superiority in the area beyond the atmosphere, Armor asserted.

“I know the Air Force and the ((Defense)) Department has put maybe tens of hundreds of millions of additional dollars into space situational awareness; I think it should be hundreds of billions of dollars, because, without rapid attribution . . . we put ourselves at a disadvantage, we put ourselves in a position to be surprised, which could lead to bad behavior or a military escalation where you don’t really want it,” the retired two-star added.