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Recommended Changes in U.S. Military Space Policies and Programs

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The U.S. needs military satellite systems that will continue to function or be replaced with appropriate timing not only during peace but to support military operations throughout plausible important wartime contingencies. The U.S. also needs ways of degrading satellites used to support attacks on our allies or ourselves. In a war with the Soviet Union, space will be no sanctuary but will be an important determinant of the outcome of the war. Space systems can acquire and distribute information critical for the West in defeating a Soviet invasion--about the gathering and onset of attacks, about the location, status and movements of our own and allied forces and of adversary forces and civil society, and about the weather affecting military operations, and much else. In principle, surveillance satellites can provide information about the location and movement of enemy forces over-the-horizon and at great distances, information useful for battle management or to target specific forces as well as for warning about preparations for war. Communications satellites can distribute information over oceans and large land masses that would be essential for keeping our offense and defense forces effectively directed at achieving essential political military goals. A Soviet invasion can benefit by analogous information. And the Soviets, much more than the U.S., have plainly designed their space systems to function in wartime. Soviet satellite systems generally are more proliferated. Their communications satellites, for example, are large in number and are placed in several different and widely separated orbits. Practically all of our communications satellites are at geosynchronous altitude. Some Soviet communications satellites are small, cheap and easy to replace. The Soviets have large numbers and many types of space launch vehicles. They also have many types of ICBMs, some mobile as well as fixed.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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