Magazine article National Defense

Air Force Needs to Do More to Excel in Space Operations

Magazine article National Defense

Air Force Needs to Do More to Excel in Space Operations

Article excerpt

Although the Air Force has taken major steps in recent decades toward meeting its growing responsibilities in space, it has a long way to go-and time is running out-a group of prominent defense experts told the third annual colloquy of the Eaker Institute for Aerospace Concepts, the public policy and research arm of the Air Force Association's Aerospace Foundation based in Arlington, Virginia.

The Air Force has been slow to implement this concept and begin to operate in space, said retired Air Force Gen. Thomas S. Moorman, Jr., former vice chief of staff of the service and commander of its Space Command. The pace did not pick up until the 1980s, he added.

The Air Force spends 90 percent of the military dollars earmarked for space, said Rebecca Grant, president of IRIS Independent Research, who previously served on the operations staff of the secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff.

About 80 percent of the military personnel who work in space-related jobs are in the Air Force. Still, the Air Force is not spending enough on space-based operations, said retired Air Force Gen. Howell E. Estes, III, former commander in chief of Space Command.

"I'm not talking about putting a few more hundred million dollars into research and development," he said. "It is going to take 20 percent, in my estimation, of the Air Force budget to fund the kinds of things we need to do in space."

The Air Force's capabilities in space are not important in and of themselves, said Estes.

"The integration of air and space in the Air Force is just a means to an end," he said, important only for what it can do to improve national security-"protection of our way of life. …

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