Space Requires New Thinking, Practices, Lynn Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2010 — Once the pri­vate pre­serve of the Unit­ed States and the Sovi­et Union, space has become “con­gest­ed, con­test­ed and com­pet­i­tive,” requir­ing a shift in the mil­i­tary space community’s think­ing and prac­tices, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said today.

In remarks pre­pared for deliv­ery at a U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand space sym­po­sium in Oma­ha, Neb., Lynn not­ed that the Unit­ed States has “derived tremen­dous ben­e­fits from its pres­ence in space” for more than 50 years. 

“We are — and con­tin­ue to be — the world’s pre-emi­nent leader in space,” he said. “But the envi­ron­ment we oper­ate in has changed so marked­ly that we have reached a his­tor­i­cal inflec­tion point.” 

Space has become con­gest­ed, he said, because 60 nations now have a pres­ence there. “Nine-thou­sand satel­lite transpon­ders will be active by 2015,” he not­ed, “and the skies over Earth are so clut­tered with debris that fur­ther col­li­sions could even­tu­al­ly put usable orbits in jeopardy.” 

Dozens of coun­tries in space with var­i­ous agen­das, Lynn said, con­sti­tute the “con­test­ed” por­tion of today’s space envi­ron­ment. “We can­not take the sta­bil­i­ty or sus­tain­abil­i­ty of space — or access to it — for granted.” 

“It used to be said that the pri­ma­ry threat to a satel­lite was launch fail­ure,” he told the audi­ence. “Now, many coun­tries can hold space sys­tems at risk through kinet­ic and non­k­i­net­ic means. Some nations are even jam­ming satel­lite sig­nals to cen­sor news, illus­trat­ing how counter space capa­bil­i­ties can be used for polit­i­cal as well as mil­i­tary purposes.” 

Com­pe­ti­tion is a fac­tor, Lynn explained, because the Unit­ed States once owned three-quar­ters of glob­al busi­ness, but now accounts for lit­tle more than a quar­ter of that busi­ness. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s space pol­i­cy, announced in June, rec­og­nizes the shift in the space envi­ron­ment, and the Defense Depart­ment of Defense can bring four cru­cial ele­ments to its mil­i­tary space activ­i­ties, Lynn said. Those ele­ments, he added, will form the basis of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Space Strat­e­gy, which the Defense Depart­ment will release joint­ly with the direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence this fall. 

The ele­ments are:
— A move toward the sus­tain­abil­i­ty and sta­bil­i­ty of the space domain;
— A renewed empha­sis on inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion;
— Expand­ing how the Unit­ed States pro­tects space sys­tems in a con­test­ed envi­ron­ment; and
— Improve­ment of space sys­tem devel­op­ment and acquisition. 

Lynn called sus­tain­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing space a “vital nation­al inter­est” that demands a coop­er­a­tive and pre­dictable envi­ron­ment to min­i­mize acci­dents or inter­fer­ence. To that end, he said, the new space pol­i­cy calls for “bilat­er­al and mul­ti­lat­er­al trans­paren­cy and con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures which will help estab­lish norms of behav­ior in space.” 

“Along with the right to use and explore space comes the respon­si­bil­i­ty to be a good stew­ard of it,” he added. 

The president’s space pol­i­cy incor­po­rates inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion, Lynn said. While the Unit­ed States has such a part­ner­ship with Aus­tralia on the Wide­band Glob­al Satel­lite Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Sys­tem, Lynn said, Strat­com is look­ing into ways to add con­cepts from the “joint” Space Oper­a­tions Cen­ter into a “com­bined” Space Oper­a­tions System. 

“Turn­ing our Space Oper­a­tions Cen­ter into a coali­tion enter­prise, with close allies work­ing side by side with our own com­man­ders, could bring lev­els of coop­er­a­tion to new heights,” he said. 

Ways to share resources with allies also is crit­i­cal, he said, such as mis­sile warn­ing and mar­itime awareness. 

“Coali­tions and part­ner­ships, with both nations and firms, will not only help us achieve our secu­ri­ty objec­tives in space more effi­cient­ly,” Lynn said, “they will also fun­da­men­tal­ly strength­en our space pos­ture,” he said. 

The new space pol­i­cy directs DOD to assure mis­sion-essen­tial func­tions, even when they are degrad­ed or dis­rupt­ed, Lynn point­ed out. “Achiev­ing this will entail expand­ing how we pro­tect our space sys­tems in a con­test­ed envi­ron­ment,” he said, not­ing that resilience is the key to deter­rence in the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty strategy. 

“Mak­ing our space sys­tems more resilient, and our com­bat pow­er less reliant on their full func­tion­ing will help deny adver­saries the ben­e­fit from an attack in space,” he said. “Just as in the cyber domain, deny­ing the ben­e­fit of attack can join retal­ia­to­ry deter­rence as a dis­in­cen­tive to adver­saries.” Alliances with oth­er nations also are essen­tial to strength­en the U.S. deter­rent pos­ture, he added. 

The Unit­ed States has anoth­er chal­lenge besides han­dling the con­gest­ed, com­pet­i­tive and con­test­ed space envi­ron­ment, Lynn said. 

“The fis­cal cli­mate our nation faces, as well as the glob­al­iza­tion of the aero­space indus­try, makes it even more dif­fi­cult to main­tain our com­pet­i­tive advan­tage in space,” the deputy sec­re­tary said. “To pre­serve our cur­rent advan­tage, we must become bet­ter buy­ers of space sys­tems and work to ensure the health of our space indus­tri­al base.” 

Export con­trol reform is inte­gral as a pri­or­i­ty in the nation’s efforts in space, he noted. 

“We rec­og­nize that con­trol­ling sen­si­tive space exports is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to Con­gress,” he said. “We are seri­ous about build­ing ‘high­er fences’ around our most sen­si­tive tech­nolo­gies, while de-list­ing those items whose export does not threat­en our security.” 

DOD also must improve space acqui­si­tion to suc­ceed, Lynn said. 

“Block buys and the delib­er­ate man­age­ment of the engi­neer­ing work force are two avenues in par­tic­u­lar we are active­ly explor­ing,” he said. “Block buys have the poten­tial to reduce costs and time­lines by cre­at­ing more pre­dictable demand and allow­ing larg­er mate­r­i­al buys with few­er spares. Estab­lish­ing a pre­dictable demand sched­ule has the added advan­tage of sta­bi­liz­ing the engi­neer­ing work force asso­ci­at­ed with a project.” 

Lynn said the new nation­al space pol­i­cy affirms the cen­tral­i­ty of space to nation­al secu­ri­ty and seeks to main­tain advan­tages in the face of an evolv­ing space environment. 

“The fun­da­men­tal mis­sion of the Depart­ment of Defense to deter war and to pro­tect the secu­ri­ty of our coun­try stays the same,” he said. “But how we use space capa­bil­i­ties to achieve this mis­sion will change.” 

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

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