Leveling the Playing Field

Gen. Kevin Chilton, new commander of Air Force Space Command, believes that US enemies right now are developing the means to strike at US space capabilities because that is how they will attempt to “level the playing field,” since space represents one of the nation’s key asymmetric advantages. “They would be foolish not to be thinking of methods to deny us that advantage. And, they are not fools,” said Chilton at a conference in Huntsville, Ala., Tuesday. Chilton’s recipe is to “take action before an adversary can cripple us” by being able to discern the capabilities and owner’s intentions of any new object in space. Current systems can determine the difference between a space launch and ballistic launch, but Chilton says that’s not enough. He readily admits that providing improved space situational awareness and the modern computing capabilities that will present space data to warfighters “at the speed of light” will cost money that will be hard to find as budgets “get tighter in the years to come.” Still, he thinks the Air Force’s new “back to basics” approach to space acquisition will deliver the goods.