WASHINGTON — “We are heavily dependent on space, and our adversaries know it. In any future conflict, space will be contested,” Heather Wilson, who was sworn in last month as the 24th secretary of the U.S. Air Force, told a Capitol Hill audience June 16.
Wilson, an Air Force academy graduate who represented New Mexico in the House from 1998 to 2009, spoke about what it will take for the United States to continue to hold the ultimate high ground. Speaking at the Strategic National Security Space FY18 Budget Forum hosted by Jacques & Associates, FiscalTrak and the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Wilson addressed the steps that the Air Force is taking to prepare for a military conflict that extends into space.
In her speech, Wilson spoke on the new developments aimed at maintaining the U.S. as a superior space power including leveraging commercial space.
She reiterated the importance of integrated command and control, and said that the White House 2018 budget proposal includes funding for an integrated command center (scroll to 10:56 in the video).
Wilson also acknowledged that that the Air Force must be able to defend satellites and deter attacks on our space capabilities in order to “turn inside” our adversaries.
Among the highlights:
7:05 — “We used to think of space as a benign place, from which we watched, and communicated, and assumed that it would always be there, but that is not the case anymore.”
9:30 — “Young space warriors understand just how vulnerable we are and they are deeply committed to defending the capabilities that our country depends upon. So what are those capabilities? What do we need to protect?”
10:00 — “There are a lot of interesting things coming out of commercial space at the moment, and the Air Force is watching these things very carefully.”
10:30 —”We need dynamic situation awareness in space.”
10:56 — “We need integrated command and control, so like our other air forces, we can see what’s out there and we can control what we’re trying to do in that environment.”
12:15 — “We have to have the capacity to defend our satellites and our space capability.”
13:12 —”We now have a National Space Defense Center.”
14:15 — “I signed this morning several changes on how we are organizing the Air Force in respect to space.”