COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - U.S. Air Force Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) have joined together to create a new program to advise the military and intelligence community on how to protect space assets.

Gen. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, said in a Tuesday interview at Peterson Air Force Base that the Space Protection Program will report to him and Scott Large, NRO director, and will help identify a wide range of possible options to safeguard space capabilities.

"It isn't that we didn't have anybody thinking about this before," Kehler said. However, the military lacked a single venue to focus the discussion on the matter, he said.

The program, launched March 31, will bring together officials from both organizations in places like Los Angeles, Colorado Springs and Chantilly, Va., who currently address this mission, Kehler said. The program ultimately will have a headquarters, but that the top priority at the moment is the development of a congressionally mandated space protection strategy that is due in July, he added.

The program could recommend options including development of new hardware, or changes in tactics and procedures, Kehler said. He and Large will weigh recommendations and then pass their decisions on to the appropriate places within their organizations for execution, he added.

Kehler said he and Large have made it clear they do not want the program to constrain itself to one particular area of solutions for space protection.

"What we don't want is if you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail," he said. "We don't want every problem to look like a nail. What we really want them to do is to come in and say 'here are your options. Here are some things to think about. Here are some alternatives. Here is a strategic way forward. Here are some engineering solutions that you might want to apply now. You - meaning me and Scott - need to go think through this and make decisions on what it is you want to do and how you want to address this and what priority this falls in,' etc. etc."