Navy boosting space capabilities

Official says the Navy is looking to increase its efforts on space-based operations and technologies

The Navy is looking to redouble its efforts on space-based operations and technologies, according to Navy Undersecretary Susan Morrisey Livingstone.

Livingstone, speaking Jan. 15 at the AFCEA International West 2003 conference in San Diego, lamented the recent shift of space-based technologies from the Navy to the Air Force.

"Space has been a critical enabler to FORCEnet [the Navy's plan to integrate information systems and get them to the fleet faster], and for the naval services' transformation to net-centric services in the future, and the naval service has had a long and proud history in space," she said. "Space-based navigation has led to the use of [geographic information systems]. But for some reason ... as the Navy enters the 21st century, we have lessened our leadership role in space."

The Pentagon has selected the Air Force as the lead agency responsible for spearheading the Defense Department's space-based initiatives.

"The recommendation of the Space Commission to make the Air Force the executive agent for national security in space further caused some in the Department of the Navy to speculate whether naval force should now be relegated to user or customer status and no longer play a strong leadership or partnership role in space development," Livingstone said.

The Navy created a committee, led by retired Adm. Bill Smith, to look at how it deals with space-based activities. The group's final report, issued last year, strongly recommended that the Navy reinvigorate its leadership role in design and delivery of space capabilities to the combat force, she said.

Livingstone said the Navy has tapped Rear Adm. Thomas Zelibor and Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Kevin Kuklok to develop criteria to lead the Navy back to leadership in space-based applications and to impart space's importance to the service.

Livingstone also spoke of the importance of educating sailors and Marines to continue their tradition of leadership in space technology.

"The people who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps today are the best technological and transformational force in the history of the world," she said. "The men and women who serve, and not the applications they use, are the mother of all systems, and we must always remember that."

Livingstone said that command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), with all of its innovations and capabilities, can still fail when the information it supplies is not presented or used properly.

"C4ISR is still limited," she said. "It is undercut by bureaucracy ... and can still suffer from information overload.

"Since our first shot was fired in Operation Enduring Freedom, we have been proud of our capabilities," she said. "But we need to give pause to look at what [problems] face our soldiers, seamen, Marines and airmen. And we can't forget the basics."

Technology, she said, has been amazing, but a large number of servicemen and women will never experience it. The armed services will never be in the same technological loop at the same time. The gaps that exist among the services and among the U.S. armed services and its allies must be addressed.

"The task at hand is not just to find the wondrous new technology," she said. "To move from change to transform and to sustain that transformation requires just one thing, and that is very, very smart people. We need bold and innovative leaders and we need to keep those people on their jobs long enough to learn that job and have the chance to make a difference."

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