With U.S. forces massing around Iraq, a senior military official says America's space-based assets will give Washington dominance in any battle with Baghdad.
One day after sending a psychological message to Baghdad by testing the largest conventional bomb ever developed, defense officials chose to brief Pentagon reporters on space assets they say will give the United States unparalleled combat dominance.
The presentation was made by Major General Franklin Blaisdell, the Director of Air Force Space Operations. He insists America's ability to use space means that no opponent - whether Iraq or any other country - stands a chance on the battlefield. "I would tell you that we are so dominant in space that I pity a country that would come up against us," he said.
The focus of the briefing was on satellites that enable U.S. forces to detect missile and other attacks, to gather and disseminate intelligence, to target weapons and to navigate on the ground.
General Blaisdell acknowledges that Baghdad might try to jam U.S. satellites and attempt to interfere with communications between American troops.
But he says Iraq will have a very hard time doing it. "Our ability to control the battlespace and seize the high ground is devastating," said General Franklin Blaisdell.
The general was reluctant to give details of the potential day-to-day tactical usage of U.S. space assets in the event of a war with Iraq.
But he says the linkage between satellites and air, sea and ground military units has led to dramatic improvements in the speed, precision and lethality of offensive maneuvers since the 1991 Gulf war. "We started that in Desert Storm, we've done that in each conflict since, and we get better and better and better," he said.
The general spoke as the Pentagon disclosed 12,000 more reservists have been called to active military duty, raising the total now mobilized to nearly 190,000.
Although some have been sent to the Gulf region to join the more than 200,000 U.S.military personnel in the region, many have been assigned to security duties at bases in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.