General William L. Shelton, USAF
Commander, Air Force Space Command
This issue of High Frontier Journal, our final edition, appropriately focuses on the Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization and its impact 10 years later. Commonly known as the Space Commission, this landmark study helped shape today's national security space enterprise.
The Space Commission's recommendations sparked many changes, from the president establishing space as a national security priority, designating Air Force civilian leadership as Executive Agent for Space within the Department of Defense, eliminating multi-hat responsibilities by assigning an Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) commander singularly focused on the organization, aligning Space and Missile Systems Center under AFSPC, to establishing the National Security Space Institute. I am pleased that our last issue of High Frontier includes the insights and perspectives of notable leaders who served on this commission, and whose vision and wisdom influenced the trajectory of US national security space. These leaders have my sincere thanks for their dedication and insights.
We also owe gratitude to the commission for the recommendations that provided unifying constructs for the multitude of government organizations involved with space activities. Space capabilities have since become integral in joint operations, a vital part of our American way of war. Even as national security space evolves, we have improved our personnel development, processes, and operations, and we are now mission partners in everything from humanitarian assistance/disaster relief in Japan to air operations over Libya to counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. AFSPC capabilities are foundational and essential for military operations across the entire spectrum.
Although not envisioned by the Space Commission, AFSPC is now the Air Force lead for organizing, training, and equipping our cyberspace operations. Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated the synergistic possibilities of the space and cyber domains. But we have just scratched the surface. The Space Commission pushed us toward better education and training of our space professionals. We are on the analogous path for our cyber professionals and we need to grow the professionals who are conversant in both domains to promote the synergy our instincts tell us is there.
As the Department of Defense works through a very different economic landscape, we are necessarily examining how to be more efficient while maintaining the effectiveness required by our joint force commanders. We seek versatility, resiliency, and affordability in our capabilities, and mature technologies will be the watch words to achieve those ends.
Since the Space Commission completed its work, continuous conflict has provided the crucible to test the recommendations which were implemented. A very different world than anyone could have predicted has emerged, and while national security space has certainly progressed, we must find ways to adapt to the economic times ahead if we are to maintain the momentum brought about by the Space Commission. And speaking of adaptation, with the publication of this final issue, we graduate to a different approach for this journal's dialogue. The Space Commission and its recommendations proved to be a powerful change agent for our profession. So, too, have the thoughtful writings of so many in the years of the High Frontier Journal. It is time for our space and cyber narrative to move into the mainstream academic discussion in other professional publications. Our community must continue sharing insights, concerns and ideas, and my pledge to you is we will continue to facilitate your efforts.
In closing, I thank all who have contributed to this journal. I also want to pay homage to the many leaders who helped forge the National Security Space community into the joint-minded warfighting force it is today. Pioneers of the past have given us the vision of global access, persistence, and awareness for the 21st century. Our continued teamwork ensures we will secure and advance our nation's operational advantage in the domains of space and cyberspace.