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​Gen. John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command, speaks in Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2014. Air Force photo by SSgt. Matt Davis

Colorado Springs, Colo.—Gen. John Hyten, head of Air Force Space Command, delivered a stark warning about the implications a return to sequester-level budgets would have for the service's space mission. Should Congress not give the Defense Department flexibility to avoid the across-the-board spending cuts, the command would be forced to reduce launches, eliminate modernization efforts for entire systems, and “decimate weapon system sustainment,” he said in his speech here at the 31st Space Symposium on April 14. During the last round of sequestration in 2013, AFSPC eliminated half of its contractor workforce, reduced range operations, and shut down the Air Force Space Surveillance System, exhausting much of the “low-hanging fruit” for spending reductions, said Hyten. Such drastic measures again would have a particularly detrimental effect for AFSPC, he noted, as the command is working to establish a competitive launch environment and evolve its space architecture—shifts that must be accompanied by considerable investments.