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Perhaps the oldest military maxim concerns the advantages of holding and using the high ground. The high ground has always provided tremendous advantages in vision and extraordinary leverage in force employment. When mankind soared into the air, the concept of holding and using the high ground took on an entirely new dimension, and air power revolutionized the conduct of warfare.

Now, in the latter years of the twentieth century, mankind is making its way beyond the limitations of the atmosphere and into the ultimate high ground of space. It follows that the ability to operate in and through space has the potential to revolutionize yet again the conduct of warfare. But, this potential will only be realized with imaginative forward thinking that breaks the ties binding our minds to the concepts of the present.

In May 1993, the United States Air Force Chief of Staff, General Merrill A. McPeak, challenged the faculty and students of Air University to break the bonds of the present and envision the possibilities, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to exploit the space high ground in pursuit of national security objectives. SPACECAST 2020 is the result of that challenge.

SPACECAST 2020 makes clear the two paramount military advantages of space--unparalleled perspective and very rapid access to the Earth's surface. Exploitation of these advantages could have a major impact on intelligence, communications, command and control, navigation, force application and many other critical aspects of military operations. Further, the ability to "see over the next hill," as the Duke of Wellington might have put it, can significantly reduce uncertainty and insecurity and thus promote stability.

SPACECAST 2020 also makes clear that to fully exploit the advantages of the ultimate high ground, the United States must pursue a significant number of high-leverage technological capabilities. They range from capabilities that are already needed, such as reusable lift, to those capabilities that are only on the mental horizons of the most ardent futurists, such as defense of the planet earth against asteroids in earth-intersecting orbits.

The hundreds of participants in SPACECAST 2020 rose to General McPeak's challenge. They produced a document of imagination and foresight. They identified many of the capabilities we will need and many of the technologies we must pursue. I believe their final report, which you have in your hands, is well worth reading.

Lieutenant General, USAF
Commander, Air University

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