An Analysis of Military Use of Commercial Satellite Communications
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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Since the Gulf War of 1991, United States military satellite communication SATCOM bandwidth demand has increased dramatically, as evidenced by recent usage rates in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Department of Defense DoD has increasingly relied on commercial vendors to meet this demand. With an open-ended Global War on Terror and heavy reliance on bandwidth-intensive operations such as unmanned aerial vehicle feeds, the demand is projected to continue increasing at huge levels. It is unlikely that reliance on commercial SATCOM will decrease, despite numerous planned military SATCOM assets launching over the next ten years. While commercial SATCOM is essential to most military operations and provides many advantages, its pervasive use also raises concerns related to security, cost, and survivability. This thesis analyzes the balance between DoD use of commercial SATCOM versus military SATCOM. It surveys historical and current military usage of DoD and commercial SATCOM, evaluates current predictions for military use of commercial SATCOM, and describes measures of effectiveness that can be used to evaluate the various SATCOM options. In culmination, this thesis defines what constitutes an appropriate balance of military and commercial SATCOM usage using cost, technical, and policy compliance measures of effectiveness. The measures of effectiveness lead to a recommendation of a more deliberate, less ad hoc use of commercial SATCOM for the vast majority of military SATCOM needs.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Radio Communications