An amendment tagged onto the 2008 defense authorization bill by the House Armed Services Committee would impose a March 1, 2008 deadline on DOD to select an executive agent for medium to high altitude unmanned aerial vehicles. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), who submitted the amendment during last week’s full committee markup session, asserted that all four services had acknowledged during recent hearings that the current system which permits each service to go its own way for acquisition, maintenance, and operation “was inefficient and not very cost effective at all and in some instances denied to the combatant commander the complete control—effective control—of all the [UAV] assets on the battlefield.” Marshall pointed out that DOD has had about two years “during which it has been urged to take some action … yet it can’t seem to do it on its own.” Marshall deflected some criticism that this measure would remove tactical UAV control from commanders on the ground, saying that the amendment language was “intentionally broad” and “does not contemplate interfering with … tactical UAVs that directly support” individual units. He added that it would produce “huge efficiencies and probably a much better overall system.” Marshall also declared that because of UAV proliferation, “we’re going to have some accidents—that’s quite clear—if we don’t coordinate this better.” The Air Force believes it should be the UAV executive agent; however the amendment would leave that decision to DOD.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.