— Two of the most recent additions to the lengthy list of U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) missions are protecting cyberspace and helping the Pentagon’s new Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office prioritize its development of new capabilities that can be delivered quickly to fighting forces, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, Stratcom deputy commander, said Oct. 7.
During the last year, Stratcom has become “the warfighter’s voice” in the selection of the capabilities that will be considered for development by the ORS office, Mauney said during his opening address at the Strategic Space and Defense conference here sponsored by Space News and the Space Foundation.
“Our role is to take nominations from [the combatant commanders] and other stakeholders and then provide those as recommendations to the ORS office for them to consider and work,” he said.
Mauney praised Peter Wegner, director of the ORS office, for “making great progress” in getting the new organization up and running.
In a speech following Mauney’s address, Wegner said that over the last 18 months, the ORS office has responded to three specific needs identified by Stratcom that came from commanders around the military: a new UHF communications capability using hosted payloads on commercial satellites; a space situational awareness solution; and an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance need identified by U.S. Central Command. (See related story, page 21).
The ORS vision to develop space capabilities rapidly to meet commanders’ needs “is not that far off,” Wegner said in his Oct. 7 remarks.
Stratcom, which was created in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union and reorganized in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has a long list of mission areas including: global strike; space operations; computer network operations; strategic warning; integrated missile defense; combating weapons of mass destruction; and global command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Mauney said cyberspace, the computers, software and communications networks that are vital to modern warfare – and the modern economy – is a new man-made frontier that must be protected. In addition he hinted that offensive cyberspace operations could also be a mission for Stratcom, noting that “when directed,” Stratcom would conduct cyberspace operations to facilitate other joint commanders’ operations.
The immediate needs in the cyberspace mission are the development of manpower, tactics, concepts of operations, command and control techniques, and technology that will ensure success in this arena, Mauney said. In general, Stratcom is actively involved in looking across the spectrum of its mission areas for gaps in capabilities, Mauney said. “We try to act as an honest broker and develop a sense of the capability gaps” that need to be taken to Defense Department officials so they can allocate resources as best they can.
Mauney also noted that for most of the space age, the has been able to operate in space unhindered, but that the growing number of nations with space capabilities and ambitions could mean an end to that era. “The challenges to our freedom of operation in space may be just over the horizon,” he said.