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You may recall reading at SatNews about a new directive from the Department of Defense that seemed to indicate much of the U.S. Air Force’s control regarding GPS and Position, Navigation and Timing, had been removed. SatNews queried the authorities at the Global Positioning Systems Wing (GPSW) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, with the management of the project being at the Space and Missiles Center. The “official” reply indicates the DoD directive (DoDD 4650.05, dated February 19th, 2008) is a fairly straightforward update of the previous directive, DoDD 4650.5, which was dated June 2, 2003. The new directive incorporates national-level changes over the past five years related to PNT policy and governance.

OK, that much we could figure out from the directive’s language. Basically, the new National Security Policy Directive (NSPD) on U.S. Space Based PNT Policy, dated on December 8th of 2004, replaces the previous governance structure, the Interagency GPS Executive Board (IGEB), with the new National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee (NPEC). If you can wade through the acronyms, you’re just about halfway home...

Boiling away some of the milspeak, the DoD directive reaffirms the leads, as far as GPS acquisitions and operations, will continue to be within the realm of the U.S.A.F. The directive indicates no major changes related to GPS acquisitions and ops. The GPS Wing at L.A.F.B. will continue to acquire and modernize GPS satellites as well as the ground control system and military user equipment for U.S. and Allied forces.

The 50th Space Wing at Schriever A.F.B. will continue to operate the GPS constellation and offer ongoing service. To affirm the U.S.A.F. lead, the official reply indicates that, in line with the new PNT DoD directive, the U.S.A.F. “takes great pride in developing and delivering the world’s best PNT services and equipment.” All GPS performance standards, from the Standard Positioning Service dated on October 4th, 2001, to the Precise Positioning Service PS dated on February 23, 2007, were developed by the U.S.A.F., and approved, and published by, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) office responsible for GPS. Bottom line, the U.S.A.F. retains a significant role in GPS—but nothing in the official reply negated current industry understanding that the U.S.A.F. will now take a backseat (as far as policy is concerned) to DoD/Homeland Security in regard to GPS decision-making. Implementation, apparently, will remain within the jurisdiction of the U.S.A.F. To us, it appears as though all involved parties will continue to jockey for better positioning. Will such harm the finest GPS system in use today? We don’t believe so, as long as those coming to the GPS party rely upon an experienced designated driver and remain cognizant of the system’s importance in today’s world.
Thanks for joining us and we look forward to your suggestions for future issues. Don’t forget to check www.satnews.com for daily news for our industry.

Hartley Lesser
Editorial Director
SatNews Publishers