Ryan’s Wrath Kills Schriever ’02 Space Game

By frank_sietzen
June 25, 2001
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Spacelift Washington

Spacelift Washington Archive

Author’s note: In researching this story, my sources originally used the word “cancelled” in describing the status of Schriever II. They are now using the word “postponed” instead. None the less, my story, as originally posted, was obviously wrong with regard to the assertion that Schriever II was being canceled. As such, I acknowledge and regret the error. What follows is the official USAF response to this story.

“The Air Force wholeheartedly endorses the Secretary of Defense’s Space
Commission implementation plan.

In his 25 June article, Frank Sietzen incorrectly described the Air Force
Chief of Staff, General Mike Ryan, as “concerned” about the Secretary’s
emphasis on the military use of space. In fact, General Ryan and the rest
of the Air Force’s senior leadership realize the importance of space to our
nation’s future. The Air Force is working aggressively to implement the
Space Commission findings as quickly as possible.

Mr. Sietzen was also mistaken about some other basic facts. General Ryan
did not cancel Schriever II; it is currently scheduled to take place in late
2002. This aerospace exercise is timed to provide the Air Force sufficient
opportunity to fully understand and incorporate all the lessons learned from
Schriever I. Holding it in late 2002 also avoids conflict with other
scheduled wargames. Our principal objective in all exercises of this nature
is to effectively integrate, challenge, and measure the effectiveness of the
air and space capabilities necessary for joint warfighting.”

Original Story

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan has canceled a planned second space-focused wargame at Colorado Springs’ Schriever Air Force Base, according to both Congressional and space industry sources, SpaceRef and Spacelift Washington have learned. Ryan, increasingly concerned about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s emphasis on military use of space, “didn’t want to give space issues any more attention while Rumsfeld’s space-fixation continues,” Hill sources said last week. A second source Monday confirmed Ryan’s displeasure with Rumsfeld’s milspace mutterings. The first military wargame where space was the central focus was held last January at Schriever, and netted milspace planners with a host of unresolved issues concerning the increasing use of commercial space assets by the military. The game, a simulation of a regional conflict in which reliance upon space assets was key, was widely touted at the time as showing senior Air Force leadership taking space issues seriously. In 1996 Air Force Secretary Shelia Widnall announced a new service strategy which called for the eventual evolution of the Air Force “from an air and space force to a space and air force” and possibly eventually into a space force.

Incoming Bush administration Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was also the head of a space commission which recommended changes in national security space-related management. Among the changes proposed-and later initiated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense- was giving the Air Force greater military space responsibilities. The commission, along with a host of other space management reviews completed in early 2001, suggested that space matters be retained within the Air Force service structure as well as that of the Army and Navy, on the short and near term. But suggestions have also been made-including suggestions by New Hampshire Republican Senator Bob Smith-that if the Air Force fails to maximize space usage, a new military service called a “Space Corps” might be in the offing in the longer term.

Air Force Space Command was in the early phases of planning for the second space game, in 2002, when Ryan sent word that no additional space-centric game would be held “until the current SecDef reviews were over and implementation had begun”, because “Ryan and the senior Air Force leadership is livid” over rumors Rumsfeld might cut fighter wings or reduce the size of the active military in part to fund future space programs, sources say. Other sources suggest that while some Bluesuiters might be generally anti-space, “they also don’t want a space corps created in any way, shape or form to compete with scare defense dollars,” this column was told.

As part of Rumsfeld’s defense reforms, expect a transition fund to be established to help pay for some of the radical changes likely to emerge when the current Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is completed this fall. That review is said to recommend a major reduction in the size of the existing U.S. military force, shifting some of the defense budget saved from the cuts over to advanced technology development. That will include major increases in the military use of Earth orbit for surveillance, reconnaissance, and tracking, with such new programs as a comprehensive space-based radar capability. The service chiefs are expected to fight the recommended cuts, “along with their allies up here (on the Hill)”, sources said.