Space, Strategic Commands to Merge
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush has approved plans to merge the military’s commands over its space and nuclear forces, a lawmaker says.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld could announce the decision as early as Wednesday, defense officials said.
The new command, which is yet to be named, would combine the U.S. Space Command and the U.S. Strategic Command. It almost certainly will be based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where Strategic Command is based now, according to Nebraska’s two senators, Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Ben Nelson. Hagel said Bush had approved the plan.
Space Command is based on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, which is to be the home of the new Northern Command when it begins operations in October. Northern Command was created to oversee defenses of the United States. Bush has nominated the head of Space Command, Gen. Ralph Eberhart, to oversee the new Northern Command.
Military officials say merging Space Command and Strategic Command will streamline the bureaucracy and make it easier to respond to attacks.
``To bring those two together would have some obvious economies and it would obviously make sense,″ Brig. Gen. John Rosa Jr., deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.
Many details of the plan have not been worked out, however. Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said Tuesday he did not know if his agency would be put under the merged command.
Officials had been studying whether to put the missile defense program under Space Command.
On the Net:
Missile Defense Agency: http://www.acq.osd.mil/bmdo/
U.S. Strategic Command: http://www.stratcom.mil/
U.S. Space Command: http://www.spacecom.mil/