Maximizing Space Investment: Tightening Link between Warfighters and Materiel for Space-Based Information
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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At 9-10B per year, Air Force unclassified space funding represents roughly eight percent of the Air Force budget. Recent Secretary of Defense SECDEF messages leave no question the entire Department of Defense DoD enterprise, including space, will be scrutinized for warfighter relevancy and cost-efficiency. Air Force investments in next-generation space systems will provide significantly enhanced warfighter capabilities over the next two decades that must respond to SECDEF Gates dual challenges. Todays military, economic, and political influences constrain programmatic action. The SECDEFs position reflects Americas economic situation that is driving the need to rein in acquisition costs. The warfighter, however, is engaged in military operations worldwide and wants the acquisition system to respond more rapidly to evolving needs. At the same time, the Air Force is trying to re-establish credibility with Congress and is focused on stabilizing programs, not necessarily accelerating programs, to ensure delivery on time and on budget. Most importantly, President Obama envisions space as a key economic sector where Americas best and brightest reign. President Obamas charge to the space community is expansive Reduce programmatic risk through improved management of requirements and by taking advantage of cost-effective opportunities to test high-risk components, payloads, and technologies in space or relevant environments. The need for continued US leadership in space affects not only military capability but the US economy and diplomatic relations as well. This paper analyzes a critical segment of the Air Forces space capability, particularly the ability to link the ultimate user of space information with the warfighters ability to extract and leverage that information for military operations.