USAF General speaks at conference, says nothing new

The Air Force Association held an Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition last week.  This fact came to my attention through this article from

I understand a conference like this is more of a cheer-leading forum.  These can be important, giving management a place to tell their people “this is what’s important.”

Opinion starts.

But, then General Shelton speaks, saying the things we’ve been hearing over and over:  protect our “cyberness”  because everyone is using that and, oh, our space assets, because everyone is using that, too.  So, a very uninspiring message (again), and one that’s mixing messages and missions every single time.

I will not talk about “cyber.”  It’s not space operations.  Might as well be talking about the “Electrical Troop Operations,” because everyone uses electricity, too.

Here’s what the general considers as threats to his space assets: Lasers (blinding, dazzling, and eventually destructive), jamming, ground site attacks, and the high altitude nuclear option (detonating a nuke in space–very bad for everyone).  And that’s a problem.  Because if this list shows the only things the USAF, the space guardian, is worried about, then it’s incomplete.  And for a military organization to willingly be blind to the other threats, however “unlikely,” well, it’s downright incompetent.

For one thing, there’s nothing about the activities of certain other countries, particularly one that’s been the subject of scrutiny lately with their satellites.  In my earlier postings (here, here and here), and in the news, there’s been a real worry about whether China has been experimenting with automated/remote satellites to take out other satellites.  This seems threatening, doesn’t it?  And do we have a way to track, all the time, and positively identify these satellites?

How robust is our satellite identification and tracking?  If it’s good, then, well good!  But what if there’s a blindness there to be exploited?  What if the money isn’t there to maintain it?  Would it be good for our USAF officers and airmen to be aware of such an exploit?  I think the answer would be yes.

But here’s the thing.  This general obviously didn’t think too hard about what to say.  If he had, he’d have been more interesting, more relevant to the coming battles in space.  But he’s just repeating the same old worn message.  And that’s a shame, because a lot of officers and airmen are probably eating up every single word of “wisdom” this person had to say.  Their LIVES might actually depend on this information.  He sets the tone, the inspiration, for the rest of his worker bees.

I do understand there are classification levels about specific capabilities of countries the US is interested in.  So those won’t be listed, and that’s probably how it should be.  I also understand this is likely not meant to be a comprehensive list.  But this isn’t even a good list.  And there’s a lot you can talk about to your troops that doesn’t require a clearance.  Important things.  Forward-looking things.  War-winning things.

As an example of this, I have an associate, Mr. Paul Szymanski, who has been doing A LOT of work in this particular field.  To see specifically, what he believes are threats in space warfare, go here.  And if you’d like to see more of what should keep our leaders awake at night, just go to his site:  Then click on the “Reading List” link.

These are what a space operator should worry about.  This is how we protect civilian operations.


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