Space command critical in Iraq war
RAF MILDENHALL, England — A U.S. Marine was asked after Operation Iraqi Freedom if he appreciated the satellites above him in space and the help they provided during the war to oust Saddam Hussein’s regime.
He didn’t need the satellites, the Marine replied. He had a Global Positioning System to help him.
Gen. Lance W. Lord told that story Wednesday during a quick trip through England to promote the Air Force Space Command, which he commands at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. A day earlier, he spoke at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.
“You can’t go to war and win without space,” the general said.
His command deployed 1,400 of its 40,000 people during the war, including 500 in the theater of operations.
“Our people were involved in making sure space was integrated [in the war effort],” he said.
That includes the GPS equipment that kept the Marine on track.
With 60 military satellites orbiting the Earth, Lord said, space played a role in everything from reconnaissance and weather forecasts to intelligence.
“Space was an equal partner with air, land and sea,” he said.
During the war, he said, the Iraqi regime tried to jam the GPS network, an attempt that was successfully defeated. But, Lord said, it pointed out one thing.
“The big lesson learned was, we have to protect that advantage,” he said. “Space is essential.”
While at RAF Mildenhall, Lord visited the 3rd Air Force, which he said is a major consumer of what Air Force Space Command offers.
Third Air Force is responsible, in part, for all of sub-Sahara Africa, a large piece of territory that stretches thousands of miles away from eastern England.
“Space is essential to help 3rd Air Force with its long line of communications,” Lord said.
He said the advantage space provides is becoming more and more well-known as it integrates with operational and tactical efforts on the ground.
“I think people are really growing to appreciate this business,” he said.
The uses of space will continue to grow, Lord said.
“If you’re not in space,” he said, “you’re not in the race.”