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The Violence Is Being Taken To Space

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Space, the final frontier – for war
by DAVID PUGLIESE /Ottawa Citizen Ӣ Wednesday October 06, 2004 at 11:13 AM

 

Space, the final frontier – for war: U.S. air force sets sight on heavens. Weapons would voyage into Earth orbit to seek enemy satellites, missiles

 

Space, the final frontier – for war: U.S. air force sets sight on heavens. Weapons would voyage into Earth orbit to seek enemy satellites, missiles
The Gazette (Montreal)
Sat 02 Oct 2004
Page: A28
Section: News
Byline: DAVID PUGLIESE
Source: CanWest News Service

 

The U.S. air force has developed a formal plan to fight a war in space, putting together a list of targets which range from weather and communications satellites to spacecraft-launch facilities of other nations.

 

The recently released report, called Counterspace Operations, is an outline of U.S. military intentions to carry out combat in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, defence analysts say. It lists various means by which the U.S. can attack another nation’s space systems, including firing missiles to blast apart satellites or sending in commando teams to blow up ground stations.

 

In his foreword to the report, air force chief General John Jumper writes that the U.S. must “be prepared to deprive an adversary of the benefits of space capabilities when American interests and lives are at stake.”

 

“The development of offensive counterspace capabilities provides combatant commanders with new tools for counterspace operations,” he adds in the report, written in August.

 

In February, the U.S. air force unveiled the types of weapons it wants to use in space. Included in those were systems reminiscent of the Star Wars scheme of the 1980s, such as space-based, radio-frequency weapons and interceptors, an airship outfitted with lasers, and anti-satellite missiles.

 

Washington-based defence analyst Theresa Hitchens said the report lays out for air force commanders the procedures they would follow for launching attacks in space. It also signals the air force’s official acceptance of space as a war zone, said Hitchens, vice-president of the Centre for Defence Information.

 

“This is a piece of paper from the people who will have their fingers on the triggers. It’s important we take a look at this and take this seriously,” she said.

 

The new air force policy could also provide a political headache for Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government. Martin and Defence Minister Bill Graham have said that Canada is firmly against the use of weapons in space and would not sign on to the controversial U.S. missile defence shield if it was to be used for such warfare.

 

U.S. and Canadian military officials want to have their joint North American Aerospace Defence Command play a lead role in the missile defence system which will use ground and sea-based interceptors.

 

But analysts note that U.S. military space systems are interconnected and the U.S. air force obtains key information about activities in space from Norad. That may make it difficult in the future to keep Canadian military officers out of a U.S.-led space war.

 

The doctrine also suggests that the U.S. would be able to attack third-party space systems, such as commercial communications and weather-monitoring satellites, if they are being used by enemy forces. Such action would produce a host of serious legal and political complications, Hitchens said.

 

Ottawa Citizen

 

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Online Extra: Last month, Defence Minister Bill Graham said Canada should sign on to the U.S. ballistic missile defence shield. To read his comments, go to our Web site, http://www.montrealgazette.com

 

Edition: Final
Length: 485 words

 

 

 

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