New Strategy Shows Importance of Space Domain, Lynn Says

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2011 — The Defense Department’s release last month of the first U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Space Strat­e­gy under­scores the impor­tance of the domain and the need to prop­er­ly devel­op it, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said today.
More than 60 years after the U.S.-Russian space race began, the space domain has become crowd­ed and com­pet­i­tive, with at least 60 nations hav­ing objects in space, Lynn said dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty here.

Lynn was joined by Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and for­mer com­man­der of U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand, and Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael B. Don­ley. John J. Ham­re, CSIS pres­i­dent and CEO and a for­mer deputy sec­re­tary of defense, mod­er­at­ed the dis­cus­sion.

“Space is no longer the pri­vate pre­serve of the U.S. and Sovi­et Union,” Lynn said. Twen­ty-five years ago, the Unit­ed States con­trolled two-thirds of the space mar­ket; today, that pres­ence has slipped to below 40 per­cent, he said.

“We need­ed a strat­e­gy to pro­tect space itself, and we need­ed a strat­e­gy to pro­tect the space indus­tri­al base,” Lynn said.

Ham­re not­ed that 37 U.S. sen­a­tors signed a let­ter of con­cern to Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton on Feb. 2 stat­ing their con­cern that the Euro­pean Union is devel­op­ing a space “code of con­duct” that could under­mine the U.S. space pres­ence and harm secu­ri­ty.

To the con­trary, Lynn said, pro­pos­als for the code are con­sis­tent with U.S. space strat­e­gy to pro­mote free­dom of access and require time­ly noti­fi­ca­tion of prob­lems in space. It also retains coun­tries’ rights of self-defense in space, he added.

“We think this kind of vol­un­tary code of con­duct that pro­motes respon­si­ble behav­ior … should be viewed pos­i­tive­ly,” he said.

The mil­i­tary has used the space domain for decades for impor­tant mis­sions with mis­siles, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and weath­er, Don­ley said, but only recent­ly came to appre­ci­ate the impor­tance of sur­vey­ing space itself and under­stand­ing what’s going on there.

“We need to improve our capac­i­ty to under­stand what’s going on in space,” Don­ley said. To do that, he explained, the Unit­ed States has devel­oped a “space fence” over the south­ern part of the coun­try to catch space debris, and last year, the Air Force launched the first space-based sur­veil­lance sys­tem.

Cartwright out­lined sev­er­al ways to devel­op the space domain, such as requir­ing rules, or “norms,” on things such as how close space­craft can be to oth­ers, and requir­ing noti­fi­ca­tion of new space­craft and any poten­tial prob­lems in space.

Coun­tries “have been oper­at­ing in space like no one knows it’s there,” the gen­er­al said, sug­gest­ing that space could be gov­erned sim­i­lar­ly to the sea and air.

“Just like we did in the air, and just like we did in the oceans, you have to acknowl­edge what’s there,” he said.

Main­tain­ing sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness in space is crit­i­cal, Cartwright said. “Absent that, you’re in a very large state of ambi­gu­i­ty,” he added.

Also, the gov­ern­ment has to help in improv­ing the com­mer­cial space indus­try to allow for bet­ter equip­ment that deliv­ers infor­ma­tion more quick­ly, Cartwright said. “We have a good idea of what’s out there,” he said, “as long as you give us days to fig­ure it out.”

As for defens­es in space, Cartwright said the main thing to remem­ber is that “if there’s going to be con­test­ed activ­i­ty in space, it doesn’t mean we have to respond in space.” A large amount of U.S. space capa­bil­i­ties are run through ground sys­tems, he explained.

The pan­elists agreed that the gov­ern­ment needs to help the U.S. space indus­try by chang­ing export laws and amend­ing acqui­si­tion poli­cies. Also, they said, the Unit­ed States must part­ner with oth­er coun­tries in space.

“We still have the atti­tude that we’re going to go it alone,” Cartwright said. “We can’t afford it. We don’t fight as a sin­gle nation any more; we fight as mul­ti­ple con­structs. We’ve got to fight in a com­bined way, whether it’s sea, air or space.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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