Space doctrine starts from the ground up
Posted: August 13, 2001

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Nothing like what he is doing now has ever been done before. There is little history to it. It is being developed from the ground up. And everyone is watching.

That is why Maj. Smokey Reddoch, a doctrine writer for space operations, wants to ensure what he is doing now creates a legacy for the 37,200 airmen he serves in Air Force Space Command and for the armed services as a whole.

Reddoch, who has been in the Air Force 14 years, is working on what will become the new Air Force Doctrine Document 2-2, Space Operations, at the Air Force Doctrine Center here. For a little more than a year, Reddoch and Maj. Scott Cook have shared the burden of uniting the ideas and teachings of space operators across the Air Force and throughout the spectrum of services.

"Space is being accepted as a critical link, and it brings more attention to what goes on in our doctrine," Reddoch said. "It's extremely difficult to generate doctrine for space because of its visibility and the fact that we really have few historical experiences to follow."

The major's work is watershed. Eighty-five percent of all military funding for space assets goes to the Air Force (with other funds distributed between the Army and Navy). Also, several recommendations were made by the Congressional Space Commission and approved by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, including:

  • The Department of the Air Force is assigned responsibility to organize, train and equip for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations.

  • The Department of the Air Force is designated as the executive agent for space within the Department of Defense, with Department-wide responsibility for planning, programming and acquisition of space systems.

  • The Secretary of the Air Force will realign headquarters and field commands to more effectively organize, train, and equip for prompt and sustained space operations. Air Force Space Command will be assigned responsibility for and provided the resources to execute space research, development, acquisition and operations.
These recommendations and others by the commission set forth a number of opportunities for the Air Force, said Brig. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, space operations and integration director, and deputy chief of staff for air and space operations.

"I personally believe the recommendations of the space commission have the potential to bring about the most profound changes in military space operations and in the role and leadership of space by the Air Force that I have witnessed in my career," he said.

On the basis of those recommendations and the counsel of his superiors, Reddoch said, he and Cook have several challenges ahead to revise the doctrine for the space team.

"For the most part, we're bringing folks around to believing that space is a critical component for fighting the war, but there are still a few resisters," Reddoch said. "We're being very meticulous in how we phrase things. We're focused to think in terms of the end result -- the effects desired at the operational level of war. We're thinking for the future."

In addition, command and control is the main doctrine issue in which all services believe they have a stake, Reddoch said.

"Our doctrine today is working to articulate that command and control. We're making ground," he said.

Reddoch said ultimately, doctrine is advice, but his incentive for finishing the revision is when people discover its benefits and put it to use.

"When I see people discussing doctrine and attempting to apply it, that is what's most rewarding for me," he said.

Some critics say the United States will not need such enhanced capabilities for 25 years or more, when a peer may arise to challenge America militarily in space. Other critics say there should be no military use of space, but Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, commander of Air Force Space Command, said May 6 he believes this has already occurred.

"We have, in fact, militarized space," he said. "We use space assets, space information for military applications. We've been doing that for decades. The trend is increasing; not just the United States of America, but also other countries, friends, and possible foes.

"So, I think we've crossed that bridge," Eberhart said.