African Counterterrorism Pivot Calls for Enhanced SATCOM Bandwidth

With U.S. counterterrorism efforts pivoting to Africa, there will be a rising need for enhanced Satcom bandwidth to support mission requirements.

The House Armed Services Committee has called Africa, “the front lines of the next phase of the terrorist threat.” In addition, President Obama has called for $5 billion counterterrorism fund, focused mainly on Northern Africa.

As the African continent is so vast, the ability to support new ISR missions will require massive Satcom bandwidth.  Fortunately, commercial Satcom has been a foundation for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in other regions of the world and Africa will be no different.

As this Defense News article highlights, U.S. special operations forces will more often be situated in austere environments, collaborating with allies who have little communication and surveillance capability.

“What I need is situational awareness development,” Brig. Gen. John Linder (pictured), the head of the US Army’s Africa Special Operations Command, said in the article. “I need to be able to build a better picture of the environment so I can get ahead of the threat … What I want to be able to do is to anticipate what the threat is going to do and be able to share that so someone else on the continent can take action, or decide not to take action.”

The combination of enhancing industry partnerships and having the right satellite capabilities will play a key role in bringing Gen. Linder’s vision to life in Africa.  Furthermore, Navy Adm. William McRaven recently discussed how the SOCOM process for acquiring technologies will be more streamlined because his command does not depend on funding for large programs like airplanes or ships.

With commercial Satcom already being the foundation for SOCOM efforts across the globe, the ability to meet this enhanced need in Africa will be highly possible, and it will help drive the situational awareness needed for mission success.

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