What Does Troop drawdown in the Middle East Mean for Satellite Communications?

I’m pretty new to blogging so my plan is to make a few observations, throw out some questions and hopefully stimulate some interesting dialog with YOU – our customers, partners and vendors. 

I seem to be constantly getting the question about troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan and how that is going to impact our satellite business.  I guess the time is really here, especially for Iraq, and the President wants most troops out the end of this year. Some think that troop drawdown will actually result in an increase in manned and unmanned aerial surveillance – thus more UAVs and imaging platforms sucking up more bandwidth.  Certainly the bandwidth forecasts and purchases of UAV assets have not decreased. This would lead us to conclude that there is still plenty to be done and satellite bandwidth will continue to be an important resource well into this decade.

Is it also important to distinguish Iraq from Afghanistan?  The President had originally expected to begin the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan this July, but that multi-year process may be accelerated now with the death of Osama bin Laden.  I’m sure the entire area will continue to be a hot spot but will we have unfettered access to the air space for UAV flights?  Maybe we will see a major shift of assets and personnel from Iraq to Northern Africa or back to Germany.

The fact that we don’t have a clearer picture about this is making planning difficult. Although the government customer is partially reliant on commercial capacity, we are still playing a guessing game about the future. Why is the architecture and resulting bandwidth plan not common knowledge at this stage?  I guess we will be on the look-out for new task orders, but that’s not a very good answer to the question and may not result in what’s needed.  But, as I’ve heard it stated several times…”commercial bandwidth is like water, you just dip in your ladle and get what you need.”  With our capacity strained, at least in the immediate future, I hope it’s a really small ladle!


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