The U. S. military has
begun to use pictures from advanced new NASA civilian satellites to
help plan attacks on Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and to prepare
for future military strikes possibly against Iraq, Aviation Week &
Space Technology reports in its April 8 issue.

U. S. Navy sources also told AW&ST that NASA civilian satellite
data are also likely helping to support U. S. intelligence operations
in the Middle East in connection with the Israeli/Palestinian crisis.

The increased NASA role in military space operations in the war on
terror could raise concerns in Congress, however, about whether the
space agency is staying within its civilian charter, AW&ST said.

Pictures of Afghanistan from the NASA SeaWiFS and Terra satellites
are enabling greater precision for safer military helicopter
operations and better information for determination of whether laser
or satellite guided weapons should be called in against specific
targets, Capt. Robert L. Clark of the Navy Space & Naval Warfare
Systems Command told AW&ST.

The greater use of NASA imaging spacecraft and increased
dependence of the U. S. military on commercial communications
satellites, are part of a special report on overall U. S. military
space operations in the April 8 issue of AW&ST. “The U. S. military
space community is undergoing revolutionary changes, while
simultaneously demonstrating the relevance of space resources in the
war on terror,” Aviation Week said.

Top U. S. military officers told AW&ST that the 1993 “Blackhawk
Down” tragedy in Somalia, that cost the lives of more than a dozen U.
S. soldiers, proved to be “a wake-up call” for far better military
satellite communications and the better integration of such
capabilities with U. S. forces.

The magazine said that sweeping changes in how the U. S. uses its
military satellites are also underway in response to findings made by
a commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld just before he became Secretary
of Defense.

Military space systems involve dozens of different spacecraft that
provide navigation, intelligence, weather, communications and other
services to troops on the ground. The Air Force Space Command alone
previously spent $2 billion per year on satellite operations–but is
now spending $8 billion per year.

One serious issue, however, is that the leadership in both the Air
Force and Navy is top heavy with jet fighter pilots who have never had
much interest in space. This is a problem because space systems are
increasingly the lifeblood of overall U. S. military operations on the

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