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Space education seeks prominence

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ben Sakrisson
  • Air University Public Affairs
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's newly-released special area of emphasis, "Space as a Contested Environment," draws attention to the reality that the United States can and will be challenged in space, and that military education needs modification to address this reality.

The overall goal expressed in the SAE is for space education to permeate all levels of Joint Professional Military Education.

"We do see a future national security environment that is far more uncertain, far more complex and far more changing than ever before," said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, to an audience here at the 25th National Space Symposium March 31. "We already see challenges in space, and we see them equally in cyberspace ... and of course cyberspace is where all of the operations that support our daily lives reside."

The realization that space and cyberspace are inextricably linked is evidenced by the planned creation of a cyber-focused numbered air force under Air Force Space Command.

"The intersection between space and cyberspace requires active consideration," urged Navy Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, U.S. Strategic Command deputy commander. "Many of our networks go through space ... so it is clear that both of those global domains are intertwined. We need to explore that carefully in terms of command and control responsibilities, coalition and clearly identifying who has what authorities and making sure they are best employed to accomplish the mission."

Many of the presenters at the symposium focused on the same general topic: the United States must not assume that we will always have unfettered access to space.

"We are going to have to learn to operate in a degraded environment," said Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and Commander of Joint Functional Component Command-Integrated Missile Defense of U.S. Strategic Command.

Part of learning to operate in such an environment is developing educational programs that address potential future space challenges, in order to get people thinking toward general solutions before an actual crisis occurs. Toward that end, according to Col. Sean D. McClung, Air University's National Space Studies Center director, the number of hours focused on space studies in the Air War College core curriculum was increased from six to 22 for all students, as well as an additional 30 hours in an elective course for mature space professionals to enhance their joint military, interagency and government perspectives.

Air University is also working in tandem with the National Security Space Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., to develop a new three-hour Joint Professional Military Education course on space to augment current PME training.

Focusing in on the other end of the educational spectrum, the SAE fits in as "the beginning point to make cadets aware early in their educational experience at the academy of the opportunity and challenge of space," said Ambassador Roger Harrison, U.S. Air Force Academy's Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies director.

Cadets at the academy are exposed to a wide variety of space opportunities, from internships with private industry, space research, building satellites and summer seminars with students from other colleges, to fellowships and graduate schools with a space emphasis following graduation from the academy.

While acknowledging that half of the academy's graduates will go into the cockpit, Ambassador Harrison said the eventual goal is to "inspire 10 percent of the best 10 percent of graduates each year to see space as their professional future."

"Our goal is to make the Air Force Academy the leading undergraduate institution in the country concerned with space policy," Ambassador Harrison said. 

(Editor's Note: This is the final article in a series of reports from the 25th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.)