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US needs stronger military strategy for space, general says

Associated Press / February 21, 2011

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WASHINGTON — The military needs to better protect its satellites and strengthen its ability to use them as weapons as the uncharted battlefield of space becomes increasingly crowded and dangerous, Pentagon leaders say.

A new military strategy for space, as mapped out by the Pentagon, calls for greater cooperation with other nations on space-based programs to improve America’s ability to deter enemies.

“It’s a domain, like air, land, and sea,’’ said General Kevin Chilton, who led US Strategic Command until he retired late last month. “Space is not just a convenience. It’s become a critical part in every other [battlefield] domain.’’

The United States, Chilton said, needs to make sure that it protects and maintains the battlefield capabilities it gets from space-based assets, including global positioning data, missile warning system information, and communications with fighters or unmanned drones that are providing surveillance or firing missiles against the enemy.

As the United States and other countries depend more on their satellites for critical data, those assets become greater targets for their enemies.

“It’s prudent to anticipate that, at this point, we will not go into a future conflict with a sophisticated adversary and not expect to be challenged in the space domain,’’ Chilton said.

“We need to be thinking about how we would go into future conflicts and make sure that we unlevel [that] battlefield in our favor.’’

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