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Iraq, Not U.S., Halted GPS Signals

In response to an article titled “Sistema Proposes Ban on GPS-Only Devices” on July 16.

The article incorrectly states that “Washington can switch off [GPS] for civilian subscribers, as it did during military operations in Iraq.” Since it was declared operational in 1995, the Global Positioning System has provided continuous and uninterrupted service to civilian users, despite U.S. involvement in wars, anti-terrorism, and other military activities. Millions of civilian users around the world have been monitoring and recording real-time GPS performance on a continuous basis since its inception. If the civilian GPS service had ever been interrupted by its operators, the public reaction would have been obvious and widespread. There has been no such interruption.

Signals from GPS, like those from GLONASS or any satellite system, can be denied in local areas by jamming the downlink signals. But it was Saddam Hussein’s regime that did that in the Gulf War, not the United States.

Anthony J. Russo
U.S. National Coordination Office
Space-Based Positioning,
Navigation and Timing

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