US SPACE COMMANDER PREDICTS SATELLITE ATTACKS
By Jim Wolf Tue Aug 15,
8:05 PM ET
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - The
Air Force's new top commander for space predicted on Tuesday future attacks on U.S.
satellites and called for greatly expanded tracking and identification of payloads launched by other countries.
Currently, U.S. efforts are focused on determining if an overseas launch is a ballistic missile or designed
to put an object in orbit, then cataloging it over a period that can take weeks, said Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who heads
the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
"I say those days are over,"
he told an annual conference here on the fledgling, multibillion-dollar U.S.
anti-missile shield. "If it's a space launch, we can't afford to relax."
"We need to know what the
intent of that launch is," he said, including whether an object could jam or otherwise harm satellites or spread micro-satellites
that could do so.
Chilton said his goal was
to learn all this in the object's first orbit of the Earth so the United
States could take unspecified actions "before an adversary can cripple us."
The increased "situational
awareness" he had in mind could be achieved largely through improved computer work that would present information in easy-to-understand
displays, he said.
Foes would be foolish not
to be thinking of how to deny the United States
the advantages of space, on which it relies heavily for military and commercial purposes, said Chilton, who took over the
space command a month and a half ago.
"And in the future, I'm
convinced they'll strike at these capabilities, if nothing else to attempt to level the playing field," he said.
Chilton said the United States had a duty to secure "the entire space domain
not just for our own military but for our allies and for the benefit of the free world."
In other remarks to the
missile-defense conference, Gil Nolte of the code-making Information Assurance Directorate at the Pentagon's
National Security Agency said his agency believed unspecified foreign intelligence agencies had been behind attacks on U.S.
He said there had been insufficient
investment in cyber security at all levels of the U.S.
government while attackers were very well financed and used "a wide range of tradecraft."