The Ultimate High Ground? This Sounds Familiar…

Indian footprints

The Indians have been getting into space in their own way.  A few of my previous posts have highlighted their space activities.  This latest post about India’s space activities from the website, “The Diplomat,” is interesting, in a nostalgic sort of way.  Back in 2003, possibly earlier, the United States Air Force (USAF) was beating the drum for space being the “Ultimate High Ground” for conflict.

So imagine my surprise when I see the last sentence in the last paragraph of The Diplomat’s post:  “…right now this higher ground is space.”  It brought back memories of being in the USAF again.  In fact, a lot of things the Indians are doing remind me of the actions accomplished in the USAF.  There’s mention of an “Integrated Space Cell” (ISC) the Indians have established.  Hmm, that sounds familiar, and actually might be more effective than the “Joint Operations Space Cell” (JSPOC) the USAF established back in 1998.

You see, as much as the JSPOC sounds “joint,” because, after all, “joint” is in the cell’s name–it isn’t.  It’s all run by the USAF.  There are no Army or Navy officers or enlisted working in the the USAF’s center–at least not from what I’ve heard.  The JSPOC is great at being a self-licking ice cream cone, though.  And PowerPoint presentations.  Very meticulous, vetted-by-generals, PowerPoint presentations.

The USAF, after all, has a long history of being good with public affairs.  Have you ever seen the movie “Strategic Air Command?”  That was definitely created with the USAF’s blessing, putting the hard work and sacrifice of Airmen in the spotlight.  Guess who played the main character and was also a colonel in the Air Force Reserves?  If you said Jimmy Stewart, give yourself a gold star.  So the JSPOC is USAF business as usual.  But back to the ISC.

A closer analogy to the ISC might be the Joint Intelligence Community Council, although the council’s focus is on intelligence.  Also, there is no NASA representation–probably because the military and NASA are trying to keep NASA itself as a purely civilian and science-focused organization.  But it doesn’t mean NASA wouldn’t have any valuable input to space operations.

The ISC sounds like it’s a truly joint venture.  All three of India’s military arms, their Defense Research and Development Organization, and their Indian Space Research Organization (a kind of NASA equivalent) are involved, so while there may be conflicts in points of view within the ISC, there’s probably a true representation and communication of how space can help all players on the terrestrial battlefield for India.  That’s just me guessing, however.

And the Indians are concerned about Chinese activities.  Enough so that they are coming out of their “peaceful space activities” shell and seriously contemplating a regional missile defense.  The Diplomat’s post is an interesting read for those following space activities in India.  Maybe the Indians are watching the mis-steps the USAF have taken with their space focused organizations and activities, and maybe even learned from them.  But there are certain similarities there, for sure.  It was kind of a walk in history for me while reading the post.

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