Home >> October 2007 Edition >> 9th Annual Global MilSatCom Conference
9th Annual Global MilSatCom Conference
Fixed & Mobile MilSatCom Assets in the Evolving Role of Military Force
by Martin Jarrold, Chief of International Program Development, GVF

The title of my first offering for MilsatMagazine is actually a preview of a workshop the Global VSAT Forum (GVF) is organizing as part of overall program of content comprising the SMi 9th Annual Global MilSatCom Conference. This important event for all involved in the milsatcom environs occurs in London from the 5th to the 7th November, this year.

Each year, Global MilSatCom focuses on the processes of transformation taking place within the sphere of military satellite communications. Such includes examination of commercial/military satellite partnerships and country-specific programs. Conference content includes a number of international case studies on procurement strategies, as well as on the operational deployment of specific milsatcom programs. Specific themes for 2007 include: Software Portability; Programmable Architectures & HSD; Resilience & Network Protection; COTM; Assured & Secure Command & Control; Future Proofing; Bandwidths; Legacy Systems; Internet Standards/IP; On-board Processing; and, Interoperability.

To add to this, as occurs each November, GVF will, for 2007, provide a body of value-added content in the form of a post-conference workshop. During the workshop, certain key conference themes or complimentary topics will be examined and tackled in more detail and depth.

The main thrust of the GVF Workshop on 7th November 2007 can be described as an examination of the military use of satellites in the fields of intelligence gathering, various voice, data and video applications, and in asset tracking. With the main title of “Remote Battlespace Warfighters & Boots-on-Ground Peacekeepers”, the workshop’s premise revolves around the communications needs of today’s globally deployed, remote, and multi-task military units.

The military role of ‘Warfighter’ shares much in common with its role as ‘Peacekeeper’. For example, the requirement for access to data, to information and to knowledge which, just as each stage or element in this sequence is a progressively more evolved version of the former, all are dependent on systems and processes for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting, countless digital data streams. For decades, it has been amply demonstrated that only satellite can successfully deliver on the type of requirements characteristic of the multi-functional military, while providing outstanding Quality of Service and reliability.

Contributors to the workshop will examine, in detail, precisely how each of these three facets of the use of combinations of in-orbit technology resources and on-the-ground equipment, each contribute to the current fulfillment, and evolution, of the effectiveness of both the ‘Warfighting’ and ‘Peacekeeping’ roles of the modern military machine. Through three separate, but inter-related program sessions, the Workshop will also examine the nature of the increasingly mission critical and highly sophisticated interfaces between these facets of the global milsatcom infrastructure:

(1) Military Intelligence Gathering via Satellite
(2) The Military Context of Voice, Data & Video via Satellite
(3) Military Requirements for Asset Tracking via Satellite

More information about the Global MilSatCom conference can be found at:
and about the GVF Workshop at:

In the remaining portion of this workshop preview, I wish to look back to the GVF Global MilSatCom Workshop hosted in 2006, as well as peer forward to our plans for potential future content for the milsatcom and milsat environment.

The program of the 2006 GVF Workshop at Global MilSatCom focused on key topics of such importance we will certainly return to them in the not-too-distant future. Entitled “MilSatCom & the Global Information Security Guarantee: Assessing the Current role and Future Development of Internet-based Applications in Global MilSatComs Information Capacity”, the workshop’s initial premise was that for many sectors of the world’s economy, access to Internet via satellite is an increasingly important communications tool in delivering mission critical applications. That this was – and is – no less true for the military space (in fact, even more so) is undeniable. Military communications needs are constantly evolving. They require constant flexibility, mobility and scalability to fit with the demands of:
  • Theater conflicts
  • Next generation military inter-networking
  • Development of post-conflict infrastructures
  • Personnel morale initiatives
Only satellite can successfully deliver on these requirements while providing outstanding Quality of Service and reliability.

Through a sequence of three sessions, the 2006 workshop examined how the communications needs of the modern, highly mobile and multi-functional military unit can be, and are, met by state-of-the-art satellite technologies, providing connectivity to the Internet for access to next generation applications and technologies.

The three-part program offered:
  • Theatre Conflict Environments & the MilSatCom Internet Space: Military communications over IP: High security for voice, data and video
[1] Internet over satellite in the ‘battlespace’: Keeping the mission critical satellite-based application secure.

[2] Above and beyond the horizon: Expanding the functionalities of satellite applications within the secure ‘battlespace’ intelligence arena.

[3] Mobility and the ‘intelligent’ warfighter: Accessing the mission-critical application over satellite… on the move.
  • Evolving MilSatCom, Evolving Applications: Next generation satellite-based technologies and IP-based applications
[1] Next generation MilSatCom: Pointing the way for more secure traffic in the commercial satcoms arena?

[2] Evolution of satellite access: How will things change with next generation ‘inter-networking?

[3] Is the military space influencing the shape of applications over the ‘internet-to-come’?
  • Securing & Leveraging the Critical MilSatCom Environment for Post-Conflict Operations: New Fixed and Mobile Satellite Communications Infrastructures for Low Security Traffic
[1] Characterizing the demand challenges; supplying and deploying effective satellite and satellite-hybrid solutions. A case study: Iraq

[2] Identifying the critical strengths and potential weaknesses of IP over satellite: How is the satcoms industry responding to the demand dynamics of the mobile Internet arena?

[3] Does the Internet over satellite provide cost-effective communications solutions to support key post-conflict applications?

[4] ‘Phoning home’: Defining, measuring and costing the low security MilSatCom requirement in servicing personnel morale initiatives.

[5] Military satellite and the ‘turnkey’ solutions marketplace: Mission-ready or costly upgrade?

MilSpace and MilSatCom
The milspace environment does, of course, extend far beyond the specific boundaries of the milsatcom arena. Future GVF programs devoted to the role of satellite in the military “vertical” will clearly acknowledge this by drawing out the distinction between milsatcom as a primary subject/focus and milsatcom as a secondary focus. Then, the role of milsatcom assets is in supporting the broader milspace environment. To put it more simply, the milsatcom may sometimes usefully be viewed as a subset of the milspace.

“Maximizing the Application of Space-based Resources for the Military Requirement via Future Generation Communications Networking” is the subtitle of a workshop program that is now in development. The objective of is to take an overall view of the planning of future strategic milspace communications capabilities, and the development of associated critical assets.

The ability of a military force to leverage communications networks to obtain and maximize its exploitation of information on everything from enemy strategic planning to tactical deployments, from geospatial intelligence to meteorological systems analysis, from navigational asset tracking to combat unit communications, and from terrorist-threat assessment/elimination to infrastructure protection and ‘cybersecurity’, is dependent on reliable satcoms systems which provide for constant flexibility, mobility and scalability.

Such a high-level of dependency necessitates the various arms of the military – and the governments which direct and fund them – engage in the long-range, strategic planning to guarantee future military needs are successfully met. The private sector satellite systems vendor must play a role in this strategic planning too, necessitating effective link decision-making in all aspects of resource allocation, performance measurement and accountability processes.

Programs that comprise the future of milspace communications require the development of investment strategies that give priority to questions of funding and the establishment of a sound business case prior to the first phases of an acquisition program. The leaders of this future GVF workshop will focus on detailed analyses of precisely how the private sector vendor community – the developers and providers of state-of-the-art satellite networking technologies – contribute to the strategic planning agenda and system capability delivery.

Looking back to early 2007, the nature of milspace was changed by two important geo-political strategic developments – one arising from the western extremity of Asia, the other from the Eastern extremity.

  • Iran: As well as elevating a region-wide perception of an imminently enhanced missile threat and of a future potential military threat that may extend even to the eastern-most parts of Europe, the Iranian conversion of its most powerful ballistic missile type into a satellite launch vehicle will, in the longer-term, help to facilitate the Iran regime’s independent communications satellite launch capability. This situation has just recently been exacerbated by the Tehran regime’s unveiling of an even-more extended-range ballistic missile. Iran in the broadband IP-space certainly compromises the future regional milspace.

  • China: China has effectively – though without patently overt hostility and with plentiful denials about any escalation of the militarization of space – signaled its capability to further occupy and influence the milspace. Described in the western press as a “small ballistic missile” and by Chinese sources as a “civilian launch vehicle”, an anti-satellite ‘kinetic kill vehicle’ targeted and destroyed an ageing Chinese weather satellite at an altitude of 537 miles. This indicates China has “mastered key space sensor, tracking and other technologies important for advanced military space operations. China can now also use ‘space control’ as a policy weapon to help project its growing power regionally and globally.” (Aviation Week & Space Technology) A Chinese capability at such altitudes certainly poses a potential threat to imaging reconnaissance and other satellites operated by governments around the world. This is serious enough, even if only as an enabler of wider policy leverage, but may even be taken to pose a longer-term threat to all-forms of satellites – in the milspace and elsewhere.
This planned workshop program will also include coverage of the following key themes:
  • Future Developments in MilSpace Communications Infrastructures
  • C4 Technologies Evolution & the MilSpace Requirement
  • Inter-Satellite Links & Enhancement of Speed & Security
  • SatComs Networking & the Defence of Key Space-Borne Military Assets
  • Safeguarding the MilSpace: From Space Command to Space Control
  • The ‘Business’ of MilSpace: The Dynamics of Planning, Acquisition & Deployment
  • Effective National Space Policies for the War Fighter/First Responder Interface
and further information about this and other future GVF program activity may be obtained by contacting martin.jarrold@gvf.org.

Martin Jarrold joined the GVF in June lf 2001 and was appointed to the position of Chief of International Programme Development. His particular responsibilities include outreach to the member organizations of the GVF and to further develop the profile of the Forum within the satellite communications industry, as well as across the global telecommunications policy and regulatory community.

Prior to joining the GVF, Mr. Jarrold was Commissioning Editor and Head of Research for Space Business International magazine. Mr. Jarrold holds an honors degree in History and Politics from the University of Keele in the United Kingdom.