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Realignment of Space Programs Consolidates Lines of Authority.

Those critics who have, for years, accused the Air Force of being a "poor steward of space," should welcome the reorganization of U.S. space programs proposed by the defense secretary, said Ronald Fogleman. A retired Air Force general, Fogleman was a member of the congressionally-sponsored Space Commission, which Donald H. Rumsfeld led until he was nominated to become defense secretary in January.

A series of recommendations Rumsfeld unveiled last month constituted an official endorsement of the proposals made by the commission in a January report. The reorganization, Fogleman said in an interview, aims to bring national attention to the importance of space-based technology and to centralize the management of space projects, focusing on stricter accountability in the chain of command.

"One of the motivating factors in the Space Commission was the assertion that the Air Force was a poor steward of space," Fogleman said. Space advocates in Congress have accused the Air Force of trading off space programs to get additional dollars for air-power platforms, such as the F-22 fighter aircraft. The members of the commission, said Fogleman, agreed that the accusations were hard to disprove.

"In the late 1980s, the same was being said about the services and special operations forces," he noted. They were being criticized for not supporting special operations programs. Congress then passed legislation to create the U.S. Special Operations Command, with its own four-star chief.

"I can't tell you whether that has been a success or a failure," Fogleman said. "But you haven't heard anybody complain [during the past decade] about the services not supporting special operations forces."

Under the new organization of space programs, it will be "very difficult" for the Air Force to move money out of space projects to pay for other systems, he asserted. "The Air Force space component would have cradle-to-grave abilities to organize, train and equip space assets." That is the reason why the Los Angeles-based Space and Missiles Center, which currently reports to the Air Force Materiel Command, in Dayton, Ohio, will be realigned so it will report to the Air Force Space Command, in Colorado Springs.

"I was an advocate of this, if for no other reason, than to be able to put to bed this issue of the stewardship of space and the transfer of assets," Fogleman stressed.

Rumsfeld cautioned, in a news conference, that the proposals are only "organizational arrangements." They are not aimed to promote the deployment of space-based weapons, he said.

Having a single service, the Air Force, become the "executive agent" for space is not an unusual arrangement at the Defense Department, said Rumsfeld. The Air Force currently is executive agent for combat search and rescue, for example. The Joint Forces Command is the executive agent for joint war-fighting experimentation. The Army has Defense-wide responsibility for domestic emergency preparedness and chemical weapons demilitarization. The Marine Corps is the executive agent for non-lethal weapon programs.

Sen. Robert Smith, R-N.H., who has championed space programs for many years, praised Rumsfeld's plan. "There are nations out there who are hostile to us," Smith told reporters. "And they are in space." Potential enemies, he added, have access to lasers, anti-satellite weapons and electromagnetic pulse weapons.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, also endorsed Rumsfeld's recommendations.

"Just as dominance of the skies was critical to military success in the 20th century, dominance of space will be critical to military success in the 21st," he said. "There are close to 750 active satellites in orbit around the Earth right now. ... Nearly half of these--or around 300--belong to the United States.

"We rely on these satellites more than anyone else," Thornberry said. "In the Gulf War alone, 90 percent of our long-distance military communication came by way of satellite. To leave these assets unprotected just doesn't make sense.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Rumsfeld recommended the following changes:

* A four-star general will be appointed to head the Air Force Space Command. That job currently falls under the four-star commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command and the commander in chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

* The practice of assigning only flight-rated officers to head the U.S. Space Command will be discontinued to ensure that an officer of any service with an understanding of space and combat operations could be assigned to the position.

* The Air Force Space Command will be responsible for executing space research, development, acquisition and operations.

* The Air Force will have Pentagon-wide responsibility for planning, programming and acquisition of space systems. The secretaries of the other services will be directed to enhance space-related professional military education at all levels. The Army and the Navy will continue to research, develop and deploy space systems unique to each service.

* The undersecretary of the Air Force will be assigned as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office. The National Security Space Architect will report to the undersecretary of the Air Force.

* A policy coordinating committee for space will be established within the National Security Council.

* The defense secretary and the director of central intelligence will meet regularly and will establish an executive committee to review intelligence issues of joint concern.

Rumsfeld decided not to request legislation to establish an undersecretary of defense for space, intelligence and information.

He did not say who would be filling the new Air Force four-star position. There is speculation that the Air Force may down grade one of its current four-star billets--the Air Education and Training Command--to free up a four-star slot for the space command.

According to Fogleman, the Army and Navy should be "fundamentally happy" with the reorganization, because "there was nothing taken away from them." They will be able to pursue their own space programs, he said, as long as they are not duplicating existing efforts.
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Title Annotation:U.S. space programs
Author:Erwin, Sandra I.
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Words:962
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