Space-Based Reconnaissance: From a Strategic Past to a Tactical Future
ARMY SPACE AND MISSILE DEFENSE COMMAND/ARMY FORCES STRATEGIC COMMAND HUNTSVILLE AL
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Space-based reconnaissance is a cornerstone of the U.S. strategic intelligence capabilities. The United States has always been a pioneer in the area of Space-based reconnaissance, and today we are without peers. Our nations reconnaissance satellites are some of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment that we produce. Most of our technical efforts to date have been directed toward improving our strategic reconnaissance capabilities. The soldier on the ground, however, needs tactical intelligence in order to be effective. Specific, timely, and accurate intelligence can give ground forces a decisive advantage on the battlefield. While strategic reconnaissance is a great technological achievement, Space-based reconnaissance is still in its infancy. We have limited ourselves to improving our strategic capabilities because until recently we have not had the technical ability to bring our Space-based assets to the tactical user. There are still many technical obstacles to overcome, but the idea of tactical Space-based reconnaissance is within reach. The National Reconnaissance Office is responsible for designing, building, and operating the nations reconnaissance satellites. The office is divided into four directorates Imagery Intelligence, Signals Intelligence, Communications, and Advanced Systems and Technology. The National Reconnaissance Office has also established an Operational Support Office to directly address tactical military concerns. It was not until 1992 that even the existence of the organization was publicly acknowledged many of its activities and methods remain classified. Our strategic intelligence capabilities did not come easily or without risk. The history of our strategic program begins with the Army Air Corps, the fledgling Air Force, and the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency CIA.
- Unmanned Spacecraft