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Military Role in Space Control: A Primer

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This report reviews Department of Defense (DOD) military space control efforts and related policy and resources. Since the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. military forces have become increasingly reliant on space resources for communications, intelligence imagery, weather, warning, navigation, and timing. Asserting that U.S. space assets have become an integral part of today's warfare, the Department of Defense (DOD) has begun to emphasize the importance of protecting these resources. Although U.S. military space systems have been relatively unchallenged, military leaders anticipate increasing threats to these systems, because they provide a significant military advantage.

DOD defines space control as "the combat, combat support, and combat service support operations to ensure freedom of action in space for the United States and its allies and, when directed, deny an adversary freedom of action in space." DOD space control initiatives are embryonic and mostly represent legacy resources used for space surveillance. The DOD budget, however, identifies early stages of developing counterspace measures.

Military space control efforts, like many other facets of military space, are in a significant phase of transition. The ability of the United States to harness "space power" may be critical to victory on the battlefield, especially as information dominance becomes more pervasive in the ensuing evolution of network centric warfare. Congress might be faced with decisions involving the projection of military operations into space, survivability of space systems, and DOD programs to promote a continual awareness of activities in space. This report will not be updated.