From: Washington D.C.
Whether I include satellites depends partially on the geographic and operational scope of the scenario. More broadly scoped scenarios almost demand them. More narrowly scoped scenarios don't necessarily. Even when I include them, though, rarely do I include all satellites. If I'm putting together a scenario involving ballistic missile defense, for example, I will try to include satellite based systems along with other systems which might influence the BMD kill chain or provide early warning. In other scenarios, involving SEAD, I might include ELINT satellites and photographic satellites. In others involving anti-ship strikes, I might include ELINT and radar satellites. It all depends on what the focus is. Generally my criteria for whether or not to include them is whether or not they somehow impact the kill chain for the units involved.
This isn't to say that satellites are not considered in scenarios where they don't directly impact the kill chain. In those cases I might choose to use auto-detect, reference points, map overlays, or even just making a note in the side briefing in order to capture the effect of satellites or other methods of reconnaissance. In real life, satellites are not typically directly involved in the tactical level of warfare (although this is rapidly evolving with computers, computers and networking). There's an analysis process that has to occur between the satellite snapping the picture and transmitting it, and the war fighter actually making use of that data in the field. That takes time.
Including satellites inappropriately sometimes has the effect of artificially altering the kill chain in ways which are not realistic. Adding in scripting for things like "shoot-and-scoot" SAMs, ballistic missiles, artillery and what not also helps increase the uncertainty so that satellites are less decisive. If you can stay in motion, then those couple hours or even 10-20 minutes between satellite passes make a big difference in terms of the effectiveness of the enemy's ability to target you.
As for why would I turn my radar off, it depends, but sometimes it might be BECAUSE of satellites. Radar is a balancing act. If you turn it on, you can see, but you also might reveal your location and identity to satellite and terrestrial sensors based sensors. So you might choose to turn off your radar periodically to hopefully increase the uncertainty on your position and frustrate efforts to target you, be it by aircraft, submarines, surface ships, or ballistic missiles, who depend on satellites to make that initial ELINT detection. A radar satellite might be able to identify your position, but if they can't determine what kind of ship you are, they might hold off on the ballistic missile strike, which takes 15 minutes to fly out. They might send an MPA which takes hours to get there. Frustrating efforts to identify your warships buys you time. If I have a radar and a satellite, then it gets even better, because now I can let the satellite spot ballistic missiles and turn my radar off. Then, when I get an early warning from the satellite that ballistic missiles or bombers are inbound, I know to turn my radar back on because at that point the ruse is blown, and I need to be able to defend myself.
I was wondering how many of you, who like to create scenarios, add satellites to your creations?
I was looking at some of the CMANO scenarios and discovered that many of them have satellites included. For instance, the scenario SALVO has 64 satellites in the game. With that many present, most of the units were observable at the start of the scenario. I wanted to see how many units would still be observable if the satellite weren't present, so, I eliminated all of the satellites and then most of the units were no longer able to be seen. I then re-started the game with the satellites present, and pretty much everything could be seen again. Obviously, the presence of satellites makes a huge difference
All of this got me thinking about EMCON, etc. It seems that if satellites are present (as they are in real life), and everything is pretty much able to be seen, why would you bother turning your radar off?
So, can any of you enlighten me about the use of satellites in CMANO? What am I missing? It doesn't seem as if you could enter the South China Sea (for instance) without all of the satellite owners knowing exactly where you are, and where you are going.