Air Force and NRO forge close ties overall and for SSA

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Air Force and NRO leaders emphasized their close ties at the 34th Space Symposium here and offered proof the relationship is helping them share capabilities.

“We work very closely with NRO. They are our biggest partner,” Gen. John Raymond, said April 19 during a press briefing. “We started out early this year drafting a concept of operations. We wrote that together. That provides us the sheet music on how we are going to operate in a contested domain.”

NRO Director Betty Sapp offered a similar sentiment.

“The need to work together to help each other toward resiliency  in a shared space has given us more touch points and more opportunities  to work together than ever before,” Sapp said in her April 16 keynote address. “The urgency to get there as soon as possible has left both of us very singularly unconcerned about who does what as long as we both do what’s right for national security space.”

Raymond and Sapp meets monthly to review topics related to their common concept of operations, Raymond said.

During one of the meetings, the Air Force and NRO leader agreed to join forces on a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program.

“We had an SSA program we were going to develop,” Raymond said. “It turns out the NRO had a capability that was going to better meet our mission needs. They were going to be able to get it on orbit faster because they were a little ahead of us in starting. So we partnered with them in that program.”