Space-Operations Doctrine: The Way Ahead

By Shull, Todd C. | Air & Space Power Journal, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Space-Operations Doctrine: The Way Ahead


Shull, Todd C., Air & Space Power Journal


Editorial Abstract:

To continue the asymmetric advantage that our "high-demand, low-density" space systems provide US war fighters, we must develop efficient, smart guidance for their employment. After evaluating current space doctrine in light of lessons learned in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Major Shull offers suggestions to enhance and expand the current body of space-operations doctrine.

THE RECENT CONFLICTS in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated the asymmetric advantage provided by space systems and their significant contribution to the most flexible, precise, and lethal military the world has ever seen. To ensure that our "high-demand, low-density" space systems continue to provide an asymmetric advantage for us, we must employ them as efficiently and smartly as possible to meet war-fighter needs. The foundation for such employment lies in well-developed, comprehensive space-operations doctrine.

In every major conflict since Operation Desert Storm, space capabilities have provided increasing levels of support to combat operations. Command relationships continue to evolve to maximize theater commanders' ability to integrate space effects into their campaigns. Similarly, space-operations doctrine has grown and matured by continually capturing the lessons learned and best practices discovered in each successive conflict. We are now at a point where we can evaluate our current space doctrine in light of the lessons learned in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. How should our space-operations doctrine build on these lessons? What, if any, new such doctrine is necessary? This article examines these questions and proposes a course for enhancing and expanding the body of space-operations doctrine. However, before we proceed, a short discussion on existing operational-level space doctrine is appropriate.

Current Space-Operations Doctrine

The Air Force and the joint community have codified operational-level space-operations doctrine in Air Force Doctrine Document (AFDD) 2-2, Space Operations, and Joint Publication (JP) 3-14, Joint Doctrine for Space Operations, respectively. (A rather dated Army document-Field Manual 100-18, Space Support to Army Operations, 20 July 1995-is not discussed here.) AFDD 2-2 and JP 3-14 are similar in both scope and content.

Current Air Force operational-level space doctrine resides in AFDD 2-2, last revised in 2001.1 This document provides significant detail in the areas of command and control (C^sup 2^) of space forces as well as the planning and execution of space operations. The first chapter serves as a primer on the contribution of space operations to air and space power, examining the relevance and contribution of these operations to the principles of war, tenets of air and space power, Air Force functions, and Air Force distinctive capabilities (formerly known as core competencies). The second chapter offers guidance for the C^sup 2^ of both global and theater space forces. It introduces the construct of a joint force air and space component commander (JFASCC) although this entity has not found acceptance with the other military services. The third and fourth chapters discuss planning and execution of space operations, respectively. The planning chapter covers campaign planning and highlights development of the Air Force Space Operations Plan. The execution chapter provides guidance for conducting both global and theater space operations. Of particular note are sections that cover the integration of civil, commercial, and foreign space assets into operations and development of the space tasking order. The final chapter addresses training and education for space operations in the context of developing space warriors. AFDD 2-2 provides a solid doctrinal foundation for Air Force space operations, but as we will see later, it needs updating to incorporate the lessons of Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

JP 3-14, which treats joint space-operations doctrine, finally saw publication in 2002 after undergoing development for well over 10 years. …

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