Monday, April 28, 2008

Tanks in Space?

As we all know the Air Force has pretty much dominated all Space related systems and operations. However, it would appear that the US Army has decided that it was time to turn up the heat and see how much better they can be at this space business. According to the Army has announced that it will launch eight satellites into space over the next nine months. This would be the first time in over 50 years that the Army has shown and active interest in space.

According to the article these satellites would be rather small in size, only weighing five pounds each, and would be used for communications. Apparently there are large swathes of the developing world in which the Army lacks secure access to communication satellites and has so far relied on commercial vendors. As part of the shift in focus toward these new areas of conflict the Army feels it necessary to acquire in house assets to protect communication and increase its range of operations. Although the Army stated that it did not want to directly challenge the dominance of the Air Force in space, one of its officers did comment that "a little competition never hurt anyone".

The fact that the Army is attempting its own satellite launches does seem odd to me. Why didn't they simply contact Air Force and ask them to place more communication satellites in space? It would seem the Air Force probably has a huge comparative advantage in space technology etc. that would make them much more efficient at developing and moving satellites. It would appear that the Army is simply trying to extend its bureaucratic reach. Maybe it fears that it is being sidelined by its large peace keeping operations in the development of future war assets. Or maybe its just had a tough time to get the Air Force to do its bidding and is therefore attempting to develop its own capabilities. This last point would speak badly for the whole "jointness" effort as discussed in class.

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