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New USAF doctrine publication: AFDD 2-2.1, Counterspace Operations.

BECAUSE OF THE importance of space superiority, the Air Force published new doctrine on 2 August 2004: Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-2.1, Counterspace Operations. Gen John P. Jumper, US Air Force chief of staff, asserts that "space superiority is as much about protecting our space assets as it is about preparing to counter an enemy's space or anti-space assets" (1). The new publication (pub) defines key terms characteristic of counterspace operations and highlights factors that Airmen must take into consideration when they plan/execute those operations.

AFDD 2-2.1 defines the key term space superiority as "the degree of control necessary to employ, maneuver, and engage space forces while denying the same capability to an adversary" (55). The pub reinforces existing definitions found in AFDD 1, Air Force Basic Doctrine, 17 November 2003, which states that "counterspace involves those kinetic and non-kinetic operations conducted to attain and maintain a desired degree of space superiority by the destruction, degradation, or disruption of enemy space capability" (42).

AFDD 2-2.1 highlights the linkage between the concepts of space situational awareness (SSA) and counterspace operations, explaining that SSA "is the result of sufficient knowledge about space-related conditions, constraints, capabilities, and activities ... in, from, toward, or through space" (2). SSA accomplished by space surveillance, reconnaissance, the monitoring of the space environment, and collection/processing of space-systems intelligence provides the planner, commander, and executor the ability to develop counterspace courses of action.

Like counterair operations, counterspace operations have offensive and defensive components. On the one hand, according to AFDD 2-2.1, offensive counterspace (OCS) operations "deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy adversary space capabilities" at a time and place of our choosing through attacks on the space systems, terrestrial systems, links, or third-party space capabilities (2). The early initiation of counterspace operations, ranging from dropping ordnance on space-systems nodes to jamming enemy-satellite uplink or downlink frequencies, can result in an immediate advantage in space capabilities and control of the space medium. On the other hand, defensive counterspace (DCS) operations are "key to enabling continued exploitation of space by the US and its allies by protecting, preserving, recovering, and reconstituting friendly space-related capabilities" (3).

AFDD 2-2.1 addresses the need to consider both offensive and defensive actions, noting that "counterspace operations are conducted across the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war by the entire joint force.... Within the counterspace construct, any action taken to achieve space superiority is a counterspace operation" (2).

As this pub points out, denying an adversary access to space can carry many intended and unintended consequences by transcending military operations, thus potentially affecting a nation's economic and diplomatic position. Tactical actions must support operational- and strategic-level objectives and strategies. Planning and executing counterspace operations require different levels of approval authority, depending on the type of operation, potential collateral effects on civilian and/or third-party populations, ownership of the target, and the policy regarding the type of operation. Furthermore, any counterspace operation must be deconflicted with other friendly operations to minimize unintended effects. Other planning and execution considerations that accompany counterspace operations include the following:

1. Airmen require a long lead time for SSA in order to develop a good course of action.

2. Space centers of gravity are not clear cut.

3. The enemy may have his own counterspace capabilities.

Airmen must also note certain targeting considerations:

1. All satellite-systems ground stations and low-orbit satellites are subject to attack.

2. Satellite links are vulnerable to jamming.

Looking to the future, AFDD 2-2.1 notes that
 the US's space advantage is threatened by the
 growth in adversary counterspace capability and
 the adversary's increased use of space. In the past,
 the US has enjoyed space superiority through
 our superior technology development and exploitation,
 advanced information systems, and
 robust space infrastructure. The ability to sustain
 this advantage is challenging and may be
 eroding as our adversaries close the gap through
 technology sharing, materiel acquisition, and
 purchase of space services. (4)

Well aware of these future challenges, General Jumper, again using AFDD 2-2.1 as a forum for emphasizing the importance of space, states that "counterspace operations, both defensive and offensive, supported by situational awareness, will ensure we maintain our superiority in space" (1).

To Learn More ...

Air Force Doctrine Document 2-2.1. Counterspace Operations, 2 August 2004. pubs/afdd2_2_l.pdf.

Air Force Doctrine Document 2-2. Space Operations, 27 November 2001. dd/afdd2-2/afdd2-2.pdf.

Department of Defense Directive 3100.15. Space Control Classified (see SIPRNET).

Joint Publication 3-14. Joint Doctrine for Space Operations, 9 August 2002. jp3_14.pdf.

Presidential Decision Directive-National Security Council-49/National Space Technology Council-8. National Space Policy, 14 September 1996.

Air Force Doctrine Document 1. Air Force Basic Doctrine, 17 November 2003.

Department of Defense Directive 5101.2. DoD Executive Agent for Space, 3 June 2003. corres/pdf/d51012_060303/d51012p.pdf.

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Title Annotation:Doctrine NOTAM
Author:Flavell, Paula B.
Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2004
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