10 JULY 1996


"Air and space power is the force of the future, and the Air Force--the nation's Air Force--is America's only full service air force that is dedicated to providing air and space power as the sole purpose of its existence."

General Ronald R. Fogleman

The United States is the world's foremost air and space power, and space forces are essential elements of modern warfare. Space systems and capabilities enhance the precision, lethality, survivability, and agility of all operations--air, land, sea, and special operations. Space power is also one of the key elements in achieving and maintaining information dominance. The employment of space power to achieve space superiority and support military operations in theaters of operations has increased significantly. Available space support includes, but is not limited to, ballistic missile early warning, navigation, environmental monitoring, communications, intelligence support, spacelift, and satellite operations.

The broad doctrinal tenets of space power described in Air Force Basic Doctrine are derived from our combat experience, insights into emerging technologies and capabilities, and professional judgment. They will continue to evolve and become more focused as space-derived information becomes integrated into plans, exercises, and training.





Space Power 1

Space Characteristics 1

Space Systems 1


Unity of Command 3

Service Component Assets 3

Assets not Assigned to a Service Component 3


General 5

Space Control 5

Application of Force 7

Enhancing Operations 7

Supporting Space Forces 8


General 9

Global Coverage 9

Flexibility 9

Economy 10

Effectiveness 10

Robustness 10


Role of Military Space Power 11

Peacetime, Deterrence, and Military Operations Other Than War 11

Escalation Control 11

Space Operations Support During Conflict 12

Information Dominance 12

Post-hostilities 12


Space Operations Integration 13

Counterspace Planning Factors 13

Theater Planning and Operations Support 13

Peacetime Planning 13

Crisis and Wartime Space Operations 14



Education and Training 15

War Games 15

Exercises 15



"Our mission is to defend the United States through the control and exploitation of air and space."

General Merrill A. McPeak


This document outlines the fundamental principles and basic doctrine for space operations. It provides doctrine for the Air Force to organize, train, equip, and operate space forces.


This document applies to all Air Force agencies, including the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and civilian personnel employed by the Air Force. The doctrine in this document is authoritative but not directive. Commanders should exercise judgment when applying this doctrine to accomplish their missions.


This doctrine expands upon the basic Air Force beliefs outlined in Air Force Basic Doctrine as they pertain to space and Air Force responsibilities and missions. This doctrine provides fundamental principles which apply to today's space operations and should be implemented in consonance with applicable Air Force policy directives. Using these fundamental principles as a starting point, airmen must also look to the future to develop concepts and take deliberate actions to build and focus on space systems that will continue to satisfy national defense demands in the years to come.


Doctrine for joint space operations can be found in Joint Publication 3-14, Joint Doctrine; Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Space Operations, and Joint Publication 3-01.1, Joint Doctrine for Aerospace Defense of North America. These publications provide detailed information on the joint planning and employment of space forces across the full range of military operations.



"Space power will be as decisive in future combat as airpower is today."

The Honorable E.C. Aldridge, Jr.


Space power is the capability to exploit space forces to support national security strategy and achieve national security objectives. Used effectively, space power enhances America's opportunities to succeed across the broad range of military operations. Space power is derived from national, Department of Defense (DOD), civil, and commercial space systems and associated infrastructures. These assets include space-based systems, ground-based systems for tracking and controlling objects in space and transiting through space, launch systems that deliver spacecraft, and people who operate, maintain, or support these systems.


The space operating environment is different from that of terrestrial-based forces. Space is the largest operating medium and surrounds all other operating media. Space offers the highest possible positioning above land, sea, air, and special operations forces. This affords a commanding view of operations and provides an important military advantage. Space-based forces operate in accordance with the laws of astrodynamics, while terrestrial-based air and space forces operate in accordance with the laws of aerodynamics. Although there are no international agreements delineating a boundary between air and space, terrestrial-based forces generally operate below an altitude of 100 kilometers; whereas space-based forces operate above this altitude, where the effects of lift and drag are negligible. Space-based forces operate in an environment characterized by high-energy particles and fluctuating magnetic fields and temperatures, while terrestrial forces operate in the Earth's atmosphere, with its temperature, moisture, wind, precipitation, and pressure differences. Airmen must understand both environments as they create an integrated air and space operation. Space and terrestrial forces complement each other. Used properly, space forces are a significant force multiplier for terrestrial forces--space forces facilitate more efficient and coherent terrestrial operations.


Space systems consist of three elements: a space element, a terrestrial element, and a link element. The space element consists of the platform in which astrodynamics is the primary principle governing its movement through its environment. The terrestrial element consists of the land, sea, or airborne equipment and personnel used to receive, transmit, and process data from, or to control, the space element. The link element is the communication used to convey data and information between the space element and the terrestrial element. All three elements can be key factors in military operations. Just as stealth technology and precision munitions permitted new operational approaches to airpower, the recent additional emphasis placed on operational and tactical exploitation of space capabilities offers a new operational horizon from which military forces can increase their situational awareness, operations tempo, information dominance, and overall responsiveness and effectiveness.



...a lack of centralized authority would certainly hamper our peaceful use of space and could be disastrous in time of war. Failure to properly coordinate peaceful space activities under common direction could cause confusion.... In war, when time is of the essence and quick reaction so necessary, centralized military authority will surely be mandatory.

General Thomas D. White


Centralized control and decentralized execution are essential to the successful and optimal use of space power. Since space forces are global in nature and include critical national assets, they are tasked and assigned from a global perspective. In a regional conflict, the theater commander has control over accurate and timely products from space but does not have actual physical control of the satellite, its control systems, or ground control nodes. The theater commander normally has tactical control over space component equipment and its application within the assigned area of responsibility (AOR).


United States Space Command (USSPACECOM) is the unified command exercising control authority over Service space command components. Within USSPACECOM, a numbered air force (NAF) commander is the Air Force component commander designated to manage, integrate, and direct Air Force space forces. In this capacity, the NAF commander exercises operational control of space forces in support of global taskings or theater campaigns. The NAF commander provides space expertise to theater forces as required or when requested. Theater support teams respond to requests for space support from the joint force commander (JFC) or component staffs. They augment the joint force air component commander's (JFACC) staff to provide in-depth space expertise in support of the planning and execution of air and space taskings or missions.


Assets not assigned to a Service component provide an increasing portion of the space systems capabilities available to the theater commander. These assets include, but are not limited to, US national systems, leased commercial assets, or combined force assets. They are available through a supporting organization or through national resources or international allies. Command and control of these assets seldom follow the standard combatant command (command authority), operational control, or tactical control rules and require flexibility and innovation on the part of the commander to obtain the widest range of benefits available from these assets. Such assets are closely linked to the air campaign planning and execution process for situational awareness and battlespace preparation.



"When you think about protecting this nation's global interests, you have to remember it starts with space. It's a presence with a real impact.... Because of what we do in the space medium, I would suggest that space is the fourth dimension of warfare."

General Ronald R. Fogleman


Within the Department of Defense, the Air Force is the vanguard of space operations. The Air Force provides essential support and expertise for space activities to other military departments and the civil sector. Air Force space operations are based on the core competencies and missions outlined in Air Force Basic Doctrine. Space force operations focus on controlling the space environment, applying force, conducting enabling and supporting operations for terrestrial forces, and supporting space forces.

Gaining space superiority is a primary goal of a military campaign and must be gained early to ensure freedom of action. Like air superiority, space superiority helps to provide the freedom to conduct operations without interference from an adversary. Although we have not yet had to fight for space superiority, in future conflicts adversaries may have imaging and other space systems capable of monitoring our operations. Hostile powers must not be permitted to freely use space systems against our national interests. American military leaders cannot afford to have enemy commanders monitor our forces' activities, locate critical command nodes, identify maneuver elements as they deploy for combat, or witness the debarkation of forces and supplies. This information would substantially facilitate an adversary's war planning and execution, which could result in casualties for our forces. To ensure our forces maintain the ability to operate without being monitored from space, it is essential to gain and maintain space superiority and control the adversary's ability to exploit the space environment.


Space control is the means by which we gain and maintain space superiority to assure friendly forces can use the space environment while denying its use to the enemy. To accomplish this, space forces must survey space, protect our ability to use space, prevent adversaries from interfering with that use, and negate the ability for adversaries to exploit their space forces. Counterspace is the mission carried out to achieve space control objectives by gaining and maintaining control of activities conducted in or through the space environment. Counterspace involves activities conducted by land, sea, air, space and/or special operations forces. Counterspace includes both offensive and defensive operations.

Offensive Counterspace

Offensive counterspace operations destroy or neutralize an adversary's space systems or the information they provide at a time and place of our choosing through attacks on the various elements of space systems. Although attacks could be carried out by space- or terrestrial-based forces, the principal means of conducting offensive counterspace operations is through the use of terrestrial-based forces such as air attacks against space system ground nodes or supporting infrastructure. As the use of and investment in space increases, protection of our resources become critical. Because such protection introduces the possibility of earth-to-space, space-to-space, and space-to-earth operations, it is in our national interest to be prepared to develop the capability to support multipurpose operations in the space medium and employ such systems as national policy dictates. Offensive counterspace operations can involve the use of lethal or non-lethal means and are conducted to achieve five major purposes: deception, disruption, denial, degradation, and destruction of space assets or capabilities as required by the National Command Authorities (NCA) or Commander in Chief, United States Space Command (USCINCSPACE).

Deception consists of those measures designed to mislead the adversary by manipulation, distortion, or falsification of evidence to induce the adversary to react in a manner prejudicial to their interests.

Disruption is the temporary impairment of the utility of space systems, usually without physical damage to the space segments. These operations include delaying critical mission data support to an adversary. Given the perishability of information required to effectively command and control military operations, this disruption impedes the effective application or exploitation of that data. Examples of this type of operation include jamming or refusing or withholding data support or spare parts.

Denial is the temporary elimination of the utility of the space systems, usually without physical damage. This objective is accomplished by such measures as denying electrical power to the space ground nodes or computer centers where data and information are processed and stored.

Degradation is the permanent impairment of the utility of space systems, usually with physical damage. This option normally involves attacks against the terrestrial element of the space system.

Destruction is the permanent elimination of the utility of space systems, usually with physical damage. This last option includes special operations forces (SOF) missions to interdict critical ground nodes, airpower missions to bomb uplink/downlink facilities, and attacks against mobile space elements.

Defensive Counterspace

Defensive counterspace operations reduce and preclude the effectiveness of an adversary's counterspace operations and preserve our ability to use friendly space systems. Missile defense operations to conduct national missile defense can be an element of defensive counterspace. Defensive counterspace operations consist of active and passive defense.

The objective of active defense is to detect, track, identify, intercept, and destroy or neutralize enemy space and missile forces. Active defense operations include maneuvering the spacecraft, deploying mobile ground links and terrestrial elements, and deploying decoys. It may also include the employment of lethal protection methods.

The objectives of passive defense are to reduce the vulnerabilities and to protect and increase the survivability of friendly space forces and the information they provide. Passive defense includes measures such as encryption, frequency hopping, and hardening. Space assets are also defended by camouflage, concealment, deception, redundancy, mobility, and dispersion.

Contributing Capabilities

The successful conduct of offensive and defensive counterspace operations relies upon the surveillance and reconnaissance of space and the ability to detect, track, and report on ballistic missile launches.

Surveillance and Reconnaissance of Space. Surveillance and reconnaissance of space detect and identify space systems and help characterize the space threat environment. Space surveillance (broad area coverage) provides information vital to the reconnaissance (close scrutiny) of an area or objects of specific interest. Space surveillance identifies alterations in the space environment, such as changes in the order of battle and deployment or retirement of space systems. Information derived from both surveillance and reconnaissance data allows planners to identify where force application or space control is required. This support is necessary for targeting and situational awareness and directly supports the counterspace mission as well as the terrestrial conflict.

Ballistic Missile Warning. Space-based systems and terrestrial sensors detect, track, and report on ballistic missile launches posing potential threats against North America, geographic theaters of operation, and space-based assets. Ballistic missile warning provides critical information essential to the NCA decision process in determining an appropriate response to attack. Additionally, ballistic missile warning enhances the JFACC's counterair operations when conducting theater ballistic missile defense.


The application of force consists of attacks against terrestrial targets carried out by military weapon systems operating in space. Currently, there are no force application assets operating in space, but technology and national policy could change so that force application missions can be performed from platforms operating in space. For example, space systems such as the space-based laser could provide space-based attacks against terrestrial targets and provide the timely suppression of enemy defenses to improve the penetration effectiveness of air assets. Space-based weapon systems that deliver this firepower may rely on other space-based systems for target acquisition, command and control, navigation, mid-course corrections, and terminal guidance. In addition to space-based systems, transatmospheric vehicles could also provide firepower to support future force application missions. Such space systems will be used when it is consistent with national policy and the best method to achieve the military objective.


Force enhancement operations consist of those operations conducted from space with the objective of enabling or supporting terrestrial forces. Navigation, communications, reconnaissance, surveillance, ballistic missile warning, and environmental sensing help reduce uncertainty and friction at all three levels of war--strategic, operational, and tactical. Enabling and supporting space operations increase a force's ability to detect, plan, and react faster than an adversary's terrestrial forces operations. Force enhancement must include consideration of civil, commercial, and allied space support that can augment DOD space systems. These enhancements consist of data, data relay, analysis, or other enabling capabilities. Figure 6.1 depicts notional space operations and support that enhance the lethality, precision, agility, and survivability of our combat forces.


Space force support is carried out by terrestrial elements of military space forces to sustain, surge, and reconstitute elements of a military space system or capability. These activities deploy, sustain, or augment on-orbit spacecraft, direct missions, and support other government or civil organizations. Space force support involves spacelift and satellite operations.


Spacelift provides the Air Force with the ability to project power by delivering satellites, payloads, and material into or through space. The Air Force uses a combination of military, DOD civilian, and civilian contractor personnel to process, integrate, assemble, check out, and launch space vehicles. Civil and commercial contributions further expand the number of launch sites available to spacelift. During periods of increased tension or conflict, a spacelift objective is to launch and deploy new or replacement space assets and capabilities as necessary to achieve national security objectives. Air Force spacelift operations are conducted to deploy, sustain, or augment satellite constellations supporting US military operations.

Launch to deploy is a strategy defined as a launch, or series of launches, required to initially achieve a satellite systems' designed operational capability. This includes initial constellation deployments and research and development launches. This strategy uses a launch-on-schedule approach where launches are planned in the national mission model and space launch manifest and executed in accordance with the current launch schedule.

Launch to sustain is a strategy to replace satellites predicted to fail or that fail abruptly.

Launch to augment is a strategy to increase operational capability above the designed operational capability in response to war, crisis, or contingency. This strategy is considered in conjunction with non-space or non-launch alternatives.

Regardless of the launch strategy employed, planners must consider current satellite capabilities, residual assets possessing degraded utility, and reconstituted capabilities. Incorporating all of these capabilities helps ensure adequate force structure is available to satisfy operational requirements. The quality and capability of civil, commercial, and allied systems which augment military operations are a key determinant in the launch strategy adopted.

Satellite Operations

The Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) provides a means to maneuver, support, and sustain on-orbit forces. The AFSCN is a worldwide network of single-system and multiple-system facilities and sensors which provides telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TT&C) support, conducts network processes, and distributes mission data for virtually all DOD and United States civilian spacecraft and selected foreign space programs. AFSCN satellite support generally falls into three categories: low-orbit vehicles which require high levels of support; medium-altitude vehicles which may require support only once every other revolution; and high-altitude vehicles which, depending on satellite requirements, need minutes to hours of support every day. The AFSCN also supports ballistic missile and suborbital launches.



"Today, the ultimate high ground is space."

General Joseph W. Ashy


The use of the space medium and systems that operate in space are of critical importance to the Air Force and its ability to provide our nation with global reach, power, and awareness. Each Air Force core competency relies on the attributes of space systems to meet stringent requirements for navigation, weather, command and control, surveillance, reconnaissance, and other essential capabilities. The Air Force is unique in its ability to capitalize on the attributes of space systems by being able to respond with rapid mobility and firepower to the near-real-time information afforded by systems operating in space. As an operational medium, space and the systems that operate in space, offer several useful attributes.


Space-based systems in appropriate orbital deployments provide worldwide coverage and frequent access to specific earth locations, including those denied to terrestrial forces, on a recurring basis. Unconstrained by political boundaries, satellites deployed in specific orbits and in sufficient numbers maintain a continuous presence over enemy territory. For example, three surveillance satellites in geostationary orbit provide surveillance of almost the entire Earth's surface. Twenty-four navigation satellites placed in semi-synchronous orbit enable terrestrial forces anywhere on the earth to be within line of sight of the necessary three satellites to obtain three dimensional precision navigation. Space systems provide an instantaneous presence not available from terrestrial forces, permitting the US to leverage information to influence, deter, or compel an adversary or affect a situation. Global coverage and utilization of multiple space platforms permits warfighters to exploit the various sensors, providing a synergistic battlespace perspective that reduces the fog of war. Although space systems provide global coverage, some can be focused to provide information on specific areas of interest, which can improve situational awareness, planning tempo, and enable information dominance for all friendly military forces. By exploiting comprehensive space capabilities, space forces can focus on and provide detailed services for a specific geographic area and support regional planning requirements. The attribute of global coverage offers significant advantage to Air Force battle management. Properly positioned in sufficient numbers, space-based systems may provide a global capability for much of the information currently provided by airborne platforms such as the joint surveillance, target attack radar system (JSTARS) and the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS).


Space systems provide flexibility in meeting requirements for timely, accurate, and reliable space-derived information, data products, and services. For example, today's satellite systems perform continuous tasks such as navigation, communications, and surveillance. Operationally, they can adapt to new situations through on-orbit, real-time reprogramming; modifying terrestrial processing operations; and by modifying replacement satellites being readied for sustainment launches. The Air Force has concluded that in the near future autonomous space system operations, from peace through all levels of conflict, are cost-effective, operationally responsive, and less complicated. As one looks further out, inhabited transatmospheric vehicles may provide additional flexibility in performing complex missions.


Some functions are performed more economically from space. For example, global communications are generally more economical when operated from space. Similarly, global weather forecasting would require numerous ground-based or aerially deployed weather sensors around the world if weather data was not available from space.


Some activities such as global weather monitoring and forecasting and wide area surveillance are more effective when they are conducted from space. The absence of atmosphere and attenuation provides an optimum operating medium for future directed energy weapons such as lasers and particle beams that travel at the speed of light with great range. Absence of atmospheric drag also enables objects to obtain high velocities that provide tremendous kinetic energy which could be used for space- to-space and space-to-earth weapons.


Functions accomplished both in space and in the terrestrial environment provide mutual backup and complicate hostile attempts to neutralize our overall military capability. However, an adversary's ability to conduct counterspace missions precludes the space medium from being a sanctuary for our space systems. The current threat against our space systems focuses on attacks against the terrestrial and link elements of a space system. Attacks could include both lethal and non-lethal means such as attacks against ground nodes or jamming communications satellite links. Therefore, the defense of our space systems is critical in order to sustain space operations and maintain redundancy among terrestrial and space systems.



In DESERT STORM, we used space-based ballistic missile warning, communications, weather, navigation, and intelligence as force enhancers and in some cases, mission enablers.... Space systems also play key roles in humanitarian operations, disaster relief, drug enforcement, and peacekeeping missions.... Exploiting space allows us to establish and maintain "information dominance," enabling our fighting forces to operate inside the enemy's decision loop.

The Honorable Sheila E. Widnall


As an integral element of national capabilities, space power influences operations throughout the conflict spectrum. Space power supports Service, joint, and multinational operations across the range of military operations, from peacetime engagement to general war. Space forces contribute at all levels of military activity--strategic, operational, and tactical. They give our national leaders the presence and warfighting options needed for power projection. Space forces develop, operate, and maintain mission capability through spacelift, satellite operations, utilization of space systems, and the exploitation of space-derived information. The national security space program collects information critical to America's national security. Additional support for military operations can be gained through prudent planning for and use of civil, commercial, and allied space systems.


Space forces provide arms control verification data, indications and warning, attack warning of air or ballistic missile strikes on the United States and its allies, surveillance and reconnaissance of space systems controlled by adversaries, and critical command and control communications. Space forces play a significant part in our ability to characterize threats and identify an adversary's strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities for our national leaders to use in diplomatic, political, and economic efforts. Data and information derived from space forces are often critical decision-making elements that can provide global situational awareness and diplomatic advantage and can permit the United States to respond effectively to evolving crises. Military operations other than war (MOOTW) can be applied to complement any combination of the other instruments of national power. Space forces directly support military and civil leaders performing all sixteen representative types of MOOTW described in joint doctrine. Employment of space forces must be responsive to meet the needs of these leaders and the needs of other military and civil agencies performing both combat and noncombat MOOTW.


As crises escalate, space systems provide data and objective information that can help our leaders accurately appraise the situation and implement appropriate diplomatic, economic, and military measures to defuse or respond to the crisis. Our use of military forces and capabilities as national power elements permits us to take effective actions prior to war that reflect our resolve to support friends, allies, and national objectives and interests. During MOOTW, space forces are employed to shift the balance of power in a regional crisis to deter war, resolve conflict, or promote peace. Timely intelligence data could be provided to one or both sides in a potential conflict area to reduce tensions. If these efforts fail, space forces directly support the deployment, employment, and redeployment of military forces and the conduct of combat operations.


In the future, the US may not have the opportunity for extended mobilization of military forces in preparation for war; therefore, space power support for military forces involved in regional crises and conflicts will initially be accomplished using currently deployed space forces. Additional space forces will be integrated into the theater commensurate with the requirements of the theater commander and available assets. The ability of space forces to collect, process, and disseminate timely strategic, operational, and tactical information on the enemy's forces is essential to terrestrial expeditionary forces who must fight effectively in potentially unfamiliar terrain against an unfamiliar enemy. Allowing an enemy access to information on US force deployments, order of battle, movements, and logistics may jeopardize our ability to stage and deploy forces and to successfully execute our military strategy.


The ability to control the enemy's information derived from space forces may become decisive in future terrestrial military operations. This means space control for information dominance becomes a prerequisite strategic objective for future combat. Information dominance focuses on asymmetric warfare where our forces possess a greater understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, interdependencies, and centers of gravity of an adversary's military, political, social, and economic infrastructure than the adversary has of our own sources of national power. Failure to attain information dominance early in the crisis or conflict could mean the difference between success or failure of diplomatic initiatives, crisis resolution or war, and the ability to maintain the element of surprise during military operations. Therefore, the ability to attain information dominance widens the gap between friendly actions and adversary reactions and allows friendly commanders to manage the adversary's decision cycle by controlling and manipulating the information available to them. This asymmetric warfare, based on an information advantage, coupled with dynamic battle control methods derived from AWACS, JSTARS, and airborne battlefield command and control centers, permits our forces to redirect actions in real time to blunt or destroy adversary offensive military operations before they can reach our forces. This approach can be decisive in modern combat, save lives, and exploit America's advantage in technology and tactical operations.


Post-conflict actions include the period in which nations return to a peaceful state and reestablish legitimate governance over their people. During military operations, critical civil infrastructure such as communications systems and navigation aids may be destroyed. Space systems can provide these critical services while indigenous communications systems, navigation aids, and other systems are rebuilt. Space systems may provide the only means to conduct these activities in the post-hostilities phase.



"Desert Storm...was a watershed event in military space applications because for the first time, space systems were both integral to the conflict and critical to the outcome of the war."

General Thomas S. Moorman, Jr.


Commanders must integrate and optimize all available space forces to effectively employ space power. Space operations use terrestrial- and space-based assets to gain space superiority, ensuring the ability to exploit space capabilities during all phases of terrestrial operations and to support the theater commander in chief's (CINC) campaign objectives. Space control and force enhancement tasks critical to theater planning are highlighted in Figure 6.1.


The theater CINC can direct the employment of air, land, sea, space, and special operations forces against the adversary's space forces by targeting enemy terrestrial and link elements. Adversary space forces to be targeted include data links, launch sites, booster storage facilities, communications links, TT&C nodes, and launch vehicles. These targets are coordinated with all elements of the joint campaign plan to ensure control of the activities conducted in space.


Theater planners need to understand the enabling and supporting capabilities that reside in space forces. They must ensure their requirements are clearly identified so space forces can be effectively, efficiently, and coherently focused on theater planning and mission execution. Planners may require access to national system information and other space-related data. Joint Pub 3-14, Joint Doctrine; Tactics, Techniques and Procedures for Space Operations, and the Joint Service Tactical Exploitation of National Systems Manual provide further guidance on the use of space forces.


In peacetime, planners ensure that when a crisis erupts in any theater, forces are fully prepared to use all space systems efficiently. Space systems should be used to full advantage and tailored to the unique situation in that theater. Planners ensure sufficient and appropriate user equipment is available to provide access to space capabilities and to support the full range of military operations. Figure 6.1 depicts notional space capabilities that should be considered for operation plans (OPLAN). Through an aggressive cross-flow program, space personnel are integrated in staff positions within the unified command staffs and their components. Individuals with national and military space expertise provide the knowledge to obtain, employ, and exploit space power. Combining the knowldege of air and space power experts helps to ensure air and space power is interoperable and properly integrated for the JFC.


Air Force Space Support Teams (AFSST) deploy to support regional planning staffs when requested. They provide space power expertise to assist in planning and execution functions while providing additional liaison channels between USCINCSPACE and the theater CINCs. Normally, AFSSTs work through the JFACC to provide space support. Unified theater support teams provide an interface to coordinate the employment and exploitation of space forces with other elements of the JFC's overall campaign plan and are assigned to the JFC's staff.
Space Control Enhancing Operations
Surveillance/ Reconnaissance Navigation Environmental Sensing Communications Theater Missile Warning
Provide a space order of battle

Detect attack and provide warning to space forces

Defend against attack against space forces

Detect, report, and track ballistic missile launches

Disrupt, deny, degrade, and destroy adversary space surveillance capabilities

Deny adversary access to US/allied space systems

Deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy space platforms, payloads, sensors, links, launch facilities, satellite control, or information distribution centers as required by CINCs

Deploy decoys, on-orbit spares, and residual capabilities as required to support military operations

Detect artificial disturbances (e.g., buried facilities, construction sites, etc.)

Locate presurveyed missile launch locations

Provide route and target information for mission planning

Detect camouflage (artificial soft disturbances)

Assess enemy movements, operations

Provide warning of hostile acts and reconnaissance against US assets

Detect, track, assess, and report air-breathing threats

Detect, assess, and report

Provide common navigation grid

Provide common timing reference

Provide position, location, velocity for weapon accuracy, and ingress and egress

Provide position, location, time for navigation, and silent rendezvous coordination

Provide data for radiation fallout patterns, intensity, and aerosol dispersion

Provide wind and cloud temperature, and atmospheric moisture data in enemy area for weapon selection

Monitor ionospheric disturbances and weather conditions which affect C4I

Provide weather data over route and target

Provide soil moisture, location of ice floes, precipitation, temperature, and snow cover data for trafficability

Provide multispectral imagery data for maps and analysis

Monitor solar wind and magnetic fields

Determine when scintillation of our communications systems might occur

Provide raw data to assessment centers

Provide assessed information to key decision makers

Provide warning to forces

Provide secure, survivable communications

Provide taskings to forces

Provide intertheater and intratheater communications

Provide assessed information and data to forces

Provide timely situational awareness and location information to forces

Provide status of forces

Detect, report, and track ballistic missile launches

Figure 6.1. Notional Space Power Capabilities



"We're infusing space into the operations training arena.... With every exercise, we learn how to make space-based information more user-friendly and expand their [planners and warfighters] knowledge of what we bring to the fight."

Major General David Vesely


Space power must be integrated into professional military education and combat training. As space forces are incorporated into training scenarios, war games, and exercises, airmen and commanders will gain confidence and experience that will allow them to exploit space's full potential during the planning and execution of a theater campaign. Commanders should encourage attendance at the space education courses offered by Air Education and Training Command. Additionally, planners should attend one or more of the courses offered by the Space Warfare Center. Interested personnel should contact the Space Warfare Center, Falcon AFB, Colorado, for course attendance. Space planning courses are available to assist air components with exploiting established unit type codes available to the AFSST to supplement the warfighting CINCs or their component.


Air Force Space Command provides the modeling and simulation capability to permit interactive war games with the Army, Navy, and joint war-gaming centers. War games help the Space Warfare Center develop concepts, doctrine, and tactics that can be implemented in future operations plans. By exploiting war games, new tactics, techniques, and procedures are identified and developed that will integrate space power into all facets of joint warfighting.


During major exercises, Air Force Space Support Teams are deployed to Air Force components and, when established, to joint air force components to ensure space capabilities are integrated into all facets of warfighting. These teams provide strategy and concept development planning and execution assistance to all service, joint, and multinational exercises. Participation by all commands and agencies associated with space systems is required to ensure accurate assessment of performance, to identify new applications of space power, and to identify areas of improvement in current operations.


Abbreviations and Acronyms

AFSCN Air Force Satellite Control Network

AFSST Air Force Space Support Team

AOR area of responsibility

AWACS Airborne Warning and Control System

CINC commander of a combatant command; commander in chief

C4I command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence

DOD Department of Defense

DSP Defense Support Program

JFC joint force commander

JFACC joint force air component commander

JSTARS joint surveillance, target attack radar system

MOOTW military operations other than war

NAF numbered air force

NCA National Command Authorities

OPLAN operation plan

SOF special operations forces

TT&C telemetry, tracking, and commanding

USCINCSPACE Commander in Chief, United States Space Command

USSPACECOM United States Space Command

Definitions [Note: Definitions apply to this AFDD only.]

associated space infrastructure--The equipment and personnel required to acquire, field, and sustain space forces.

link element--The electromagnetic energy used to convey data and information between the space element and the terrestrial element.

space element--A platform in which astrodynamics is the primary principle governing its movement through its environment.

space forces--Those systems and personnel employed by the US military to conduct space operations. Space forces include space systems, personnel, organizations, and related ground-based systems/capabilities whose primary functions are to conduct space operations.

space power --The capability to exploit civil, commercial, intelligence, and national security space systems and associated infrastructure to support national security strategy and national objectives from peacetime through combat operations.

space system--A system with a major functional component which operates in the space environment or which, by convention, is so designated. It usually includes a space element, a link element, and a terrestrial element.

terrestrial element--The land-, sea-, or air-based equipment and personnel used to receive, transmit, and process data from, or to control, the space element of a space system.

terrestrial forces--Those forces that operate in the air, on and under the sea, or on the land.