Air Force Space Command establishes new Space Battlelab

Released: Jul 7, 1997

by Capt. Cliff D. Ozmun
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

FALCON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- A new era in warfighting was begun here June 30 with the activation of the Space Battlelab, an organization dedicated to innovative space operations and concepts.

The battlelab's flag was unfurled at the activation ceremony observed by Gen. Howell M. Estes III, commander in chief of North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Space Command, and commander of Air Force Space Command.

Col. Jeff Wenzel is the battlelab's commander.

"The Space Battlelab will be developing and examining new ways to make space an integral part, not only of what our operational warfighters do, but our logisticians, our communicators, our intelligence agencies and eventually the American public at large," said Estes.

Citing the Global Positioning System as an example, Estes said the concepts the Space Battlelab develops may result in spin-off technologies that will have application to the everyday lives of all American citizens, long after the concepts begin to serve the military's needs.

According to Wenzel, the post-Cold War environment created several new realities for the military, realities this battlelab was created to address. Foremost among those realities was the fact that Defense Department budgets and personnel numbers were significantly reduced.

Combined with this was the rapid advancement of technology development and the challenges this advancement poses for upgrading military capabilities. Finally, commercial business ventures have now replaced the military as drivers of many high technology markets.

"The nature of the combat environment today is changing," said Wenzel. "Technology is moving faster than it ever has before. We (the Air Force) don't know if we're applying technology that our country develops to our warfighting the way that we could or should."

The military is having to fight in new, nontraditional environments such as Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti.

"So we need to be able to change and do things differently than the way we've done them before," said Wenzel. The Space Battlelab facilitates ideas and innovation, the kind of innovation that led to many of the Air Force's historical successes.

The Space Battlelab is one of six battlelabs established by the Air Force to advance the Air Force core competencies of air and space superiority; global attack; precision engagement; information superiority; rapid global mobility; and agile combat support. The battlelabs will rely on field innovation to identify ways to advance these core competencies.

The other five battlelabs are the Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; Battle Management Battlelab at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Unmanned Air Vehicle Battlelab at Eglin AFB, Fla., Force Protection Battlelab at Lackland AFB, Texas; and the Information Warfare Battlelab at Kelly AFB, Texas. All six battlelabs were operational by July 1.

"As the battlelabs begin to work together, the synergistic effects will lead us all into the next century and beyond, not only changing the nature of conflict but more importantly, providing new ways to make the world a safer place for all who inhabit the Earth," Estes said.

The Space Battlelab will be small and will focus on innovation for space-related Air Force operations. It will employ field ingenuity, modeling and simulation, and existing capabilities in an operational environment to order accomplish the Air Force mission.

"The Space Battlelab offers our command and the air and space forces at large the opportunity to consider concepts that will not only further integrate space into our land, sea and air forces, but go beyond traditional methods of power protection, and most importantly, further develop space itself," Estes said.

To illustrate the importance of these battlelabs, successfully demonstrated battlelab initiatives may result in changes to Air Force doctrine, new statements of combat mission needs, new Air Force requirements, reprogramming of funds, demonstrations of advanced technology concepts or changes to ongoing or future acquisitions.

"This, of course, is the 50th anniversary year of our Air Force, and we can now see the beginnings of the space and air force of the future," said Estes. "As we embark on the next 50 years, the Space Battlelab will play a pivotal role in developing and evaluating concepts that will chart the future of military space."