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Space Symposium panel discusses space and international partnerships

(courtesy photo)

(courtesy photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado -- Attendees of the 32nd Space Symposium gathered at the Broadmoor here to listen to an international panel of senior leaders April 14.

Brig. Gen. Greg Bowen, deputy commanding general for operations, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, was one of seven panel members who discussed "Global Space Partners on Collective Security."

In addition to Bowen, the panel had representatives from Canada, Australia, Germany, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Each nation gave their perspective on the importance of space and partnerships with one another.

"It's clear to me that none of our countries are ever going to go into combat or any kind of operation by themselves," Bowen said. "It's always going to be a coalition environment. To have a successful coalition, partnerships are absolutely key.

"As we start thinking about space in a coalition environment, we've got to figure out how we're going to operate in a space contested environment," he continued. "Everybody is aware of the jammers, spoofers, antisatellite weapons and cyber vulnerabilities that exist today.

"Our adversaries look at space as something that gives us an asymmetric advantage and it's something they want to take down," Bowen added. "They see it as an Achilles heel that they can attack and perhaps level the playing field."

Bowen went on to explain the Army's heavy dependence on space.

"The Army is the largest user of space and also a large contributor to space capabilities within the United States," he said. "We provide global satellite communications, space control, force tracking, theater missile warning, and space situational awareness, tracking and identification. We're essentially bringing strategic capabilities to the tactical fighter. That's what we do in direct support of our brothers and sisters in harm's way. We're leveraging those joint national capabilities and providing an increased capability not only to our own forces but to our coalition partners."

One of the successes Bowen spoke about is the Wideband Global Satellite Communications system, or WGS. WGS is a constellation of large communication satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

Bowen said we've had a very close partnership with Australia since 2007. And in 2012, we signed a multilateral agreement on WGS that includes some of the countries that are represented on the panel - Canada and New Zealand.

"It's a very interesting situation in that the countries provide funding essentially to purchase the satellites, launch the satellites, and then do operations and sustainment," Bowen said. "In exchange for that, they get access to the entire global communications network. That's very powerful because it enables us to talk. It enables us to operate in a coalition environment."

Another area of success Bowen talked about is Equivalent Value Exchange. Basically it enables countries to exchange things they need.

"If there is a natural disaster that happens in your country and you need more SATCOM bandwidth, you can borrow it from us," Bowen explained. "And in the future sometime when we need it, we can borrow a transponder from you.

"It works out extremely well," he added. "We've been able to use that on a number of occasions. It is a very clean way to do business between nations."

In closing, Bowen reiterated how the partnerships are extremely important to us when it comes to space.

"We don't go to space alone; we need everybody out there with us," Bowen said. "And we need to be able to be interoperable, to talk to one another. Part of my job and probably one of the things that I enjoy the most is working the international partnership piece because I can see the benefits for the Soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman on the ground.

"I never want to send our young men and women into a fair fight," he added. "We want overmatch. Space gives us that overmatch, but we can't do it alone. And I appreciate the help of everybody here."

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