Gen. Lance Lord oversees the military’s space and missile systems.

Gen. Lance Lord oversees the military’s space and missile systems. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — No adversary can match the United States’ dominance in space, but that foothold should not be taken for granted, said the four-star general in charge of the Air Force Space Command.

Gen. Lance Lord, who oversees the military’s space and missile systems from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., said the nation has become so reliant on space economically and militarily that it should be vigorously protected.

“One of the things we have to worry about is, I think we may be complacent,” he said in an interview with Stars and Stripes on Saturday. “We may assume that the medium of space is not going to be contested.

“We don’t want to take it for granted. We don’t want to assume that the medium is benign. We’ve already seen some interferences and things going on in the environment of space, so we’ve got to really guard against that.”

Lord was in Europe this week meeting with various Air Force commands in England and Germany to check on how units are using space to help them do their jobs.

Troops across the globe have come to rely on space for navigation, communications and intelligence. In Iraq, for example, special sensors help commanders keep track of their forces on the ground and avoid friendly fire casualties.

In a March 16 speech before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lord stressed the importance of “space superiority.” He said the threats to the nation’s space system are more vulnerable to an attack than ever before. During the early part of the war in Iraq, for instance, enemy forces tried to jam Global Positioning System satellites.

Lord said on Saturday that it is critical that the military guards its space-based technology.

“You can’t go to war and win without space,” he said.

The nation must also continue to innovate to maintain its space-based technologic supremacy.

“I was alive when Sputnik was launched in 1957 and this nation said, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re behind.’ I don’t want that to happen again,” he said.

“That’s why I think it’s important to protect the medium of space. Space is essential to everything we do.”

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