A: We have a longstanding partnership with the Air Force and the highly reliable EELV program. EELV launches have been vital to the NRO’s mission of delivering capabilities critical to our national security. In total, 14 NRO payloads have been placed on orbit riding on Atlas V and Delta IV rockets, including four Delta IV Heavy missions. The Air Force EELV block buy strategy, which we fully support, incorporates requirements for 11 additional NRO missions through fiscal year 2017. Q: NRO participated in a ridesharing-in-space effort last year. What results do you hope to see from this strategy? When is the next mission that will feature ridesharing? A: We have long recognized that there are benefits and efficiencies to be gained through ridesharing in space. In addition to the cost savings, these benefits include opportunities to conduct scientific research, demonstrate and apply emerging technologies, and reduce the risk of inserting new technologies into NRO core space systems. Last September we launched 11 CubeSats as auxiliary payloads on NROL-36, as part of the Operationally Unique Technologies Satellite [OUTSat] mission. The OUTSat mission demonstrated our capability to integrate multiple auxiliary payloads into the launch vehicle carrying our primary payload, and successfully deliver them to orbit. The OUTSat mission also demonstrated that we could achieve a price point, through ridesharing, that simply could not have been achieved through a different strategy. Because of this success, NRO is planning to place up to 10 CubeSats on our December Atlas V launch as part of the Government Experimental Multi-Satellite mission.
architectures. Finally, they let us experiment with innovative techniques against projected target trends and an ever-changing threat environment. Q: How do the NRO field reps and liaison officers support DoD and deployed units? A: In concert with our mission partners, we provide direct support to the combatant commands [CCMD], their service components and deployed tactical units. We provide them with a wide array of capabilities, products and services to include education, training, exercise support and subject matter expertise on NRO systems and products. We also provide operational coordination and innovative technical solutions to challenging ISR needs. We position experienced field representatives [FRs] at each CCMD and other key intelligence user locations to ensure we understand their needs. We then strive to find solutions to those needs, whether those involve new capabilities, modification of existing capabilities, additional training or different CONOPS. To do this, our FRs reach back and leverage the entire NRO enterprise. We directly support the war in Afghanistan by deploying liaison officers [LNOs] to key staffs and operational commands. This allows us to be responsive to the needs of the warfighter and intelligence analysts, and to ensure that they can fully leverage the capabilities of NRO ISR systems, capabilities and intelligence-derived products. The NRO FR and LNO programs have proven to be very successful. The best proof of that fact is the great feedback I receive from those they support. Q: What has NRO been doing in the past few years to support the warfighter?
Q: What is NRO’s strategy for use of new launch capability? A: NRO intends to take advantage of the full range of domestic launch capability to meet our requirements for highly reliable, affordable space launch. Last summer, we awarded a delivery-toorbit mission that will use a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, with launch planned for December 2015. We have also identified two launch missions as candidates for competition; the first of the two must be awarded no later than December 2014 to support a planned launch in December 2016. NRO efforts in this area are fully consistent with the previously mentioned coordinated strategy for new entrant launch vehicle certification. The strategy ensures a consistent, coherent government approach that new space launch providers can plan against. NRO will continue to collaborate with the Air Force and NASA, as well as with potential new launch providers, to ensure we are able to take full advantage of new launch capabilities as soon as they are demonstrated and certified. Q: NRO participates in DoD war games. How does NRO benefit by participating in war games? A: War games allow us an opportunity to demonstrate what we can provide our mission partners and customers, to learn more about user requirements and concerns, and to practice joint operations with our partners in AFSPACECOM and USSTRATCOM. They also provide us with an efficient and low-cost approach to examine a multitude of possibilities, to include alternative strategies and www.GIF-kmi.com
A: One of the major advantages of declassifying the existence of NRO in 1992 was that it allowed us to share our products and our capabilities with a much broader set of users. As a result, while NRO remains critically important to national policymakers, we were able to become a critical player in tactical operations as well. Today, there are many operations in Afghanistan that aren’t just supported by NRO, but which truly rely on NRO. In addition to traditional NRO ISR systems and support, we provide a wide array of focused capabilities to help solve specific, critical ISR needs in the Afghanistan area of responsibility. We’ve brought dozens of innovative ISR solutions to the fight. These services, products and tools directly contribute to the highest-priority missions, to include counter-IED efforts, identifying and tracking high-value targets, countering narcotics trafficking, and special communications. However, the most important capability we provide to the fight is our people—our on-site problem-solvers. We typically have about 75 men and women deployed into harm’s way on any given day serving as liaison officers to units, providing technical expertise, or supporting those focused NRO programs. Every day, they have a direct and positive influence on combat operations and mission success, to include saving the lives of U.S. and coalition forces. As far as the programs and capabilities we provide to Afghanistan, classification and the amount of time it would take to cover our programs greatly limit what I can discuss. I’ll cover just a few highlights, but trust me when I say that we bring a lot more to the fight. GIF 11.3 | 17