US Officer: “We Need a NATO Space Operations Control Center”

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From Space News: The 40-plus nations taking part in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan are often in the dark about what space assets are available to them and are too often denied access to space-derived intelligence, according to the former chief of ISAF space operations.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Single, who this year returned from five months in Kabul trying to raise ISAF troops’ awareness of what satellites can bring to the war effort in Afghanistan, said secrecy often keeps coalition team members from speaking about space-related topics with each other. …

He added that few, if any, of the military satellites owned by European NATO members have been tasked for use by ISAF. …

One European defense official agreed with Single but said the road to sharing of space systems among coalition partners would be long. “Military satellites in Europe are designed for use only by the nation that owns the asset, or at best for bilateral use as part of an exchange agreement with another nation,” this official said.

Single proposed that ISAF forces with the most knowledge of space first learn how to share their assets among themselves. “If I am in Afghanistan and I want to access a French satellite, how do I do that?” he said. “Space needs to be integrated into NATO’s operational planning process. We need a NATO Space Operations Control Center, and we need to create a subset of NATO’s 28 member nations that are space-minded. Coalition warfare is here to stay. Your entire system needs to be designed for it."  (graphic: BBC)

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