Panel recommends robust satellite constellation

Senior U.S. defense and intelligence officials are expected to push for billions in funding to refresh the nation’s constellation of electro-optical satellites to deliver strategic intelligence information, reports DOD Buzz.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will soon grapple with just how big and sophisticated a satellite constellation will be required to meet pressing intelligence needs. Blair commissioned a group led by Paul Kaminski to advise him whether the nation faces a capabilities gap as aging satellites die and the United States continues to fail to put new ones in orbit.

Kaminski, and the members of the panel, “basically said, we want everything, a robust constellation,” a source familiar with the discussions told the online journal. “We are asking for the Rolex,” the source said. The source does not believe the country needs what the DNI wants: “We are chasing what we want, rather than what we need.”

That position echoes comments made recently by Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the country does not need exquisite systems. Cartwright is a major player in the debate about what electro-optical satellites need building. And he was present when Gates was briefed on the matter.

The Pentagon and DNI are looking for money across all of the Defense Department and the Intelligence community, the journal reported.

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