[DISPATCH] Trends in Space Threats to National Security

DISPATCH: Trends in Space Threats to National Security

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Technological advances in space systems and increased reliance on communications, weather, navigation and other capabilities have created a critical infrastructure reliance that requires United States Space Command to grow. The speed of advances in access and space-borne capabilities has outpaced both and national and international strategies and policies to counter threats. Changes need to be made to the space command in order to keep accuracy and provide a strong national security to the organization.

 

US national security faces significant space challenges in the 21st century.  Challenges to national security include a lack of planning initiatives to deal with current and future threats. There are good space guidelines but they are not accompanied by operational and continuity planning. There’s a lack of redundancy and capacity of space systems and there is no operational doctrine concerning defending space or responding to threats against space resources. Ultimately, the US Space Command would not have any direction if there were an imminent threat against space systems.

New advancements in space leave United States space systems vulnerable.  In a conflict with a near-peer adversary, the global positioning system (GPS) could be jammed and possibly manipulated to give false locations.  Advancements in China’s space program will pose significant challenges to US national security.  Additionally, Russian hacking capabilities are well known throughout the intelligence community and are another concern for Space Command.  Changes need to be made in order to keep security of space systems against the expanding capabilities of China and Russia.

US Space Command seeks new organizational changes to dealing with space threats.  National security space systems are carried out by the Air Force and Missile Systems, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.  One recommendation made by Congress to deal with near-peer threats is to create a Defense Space Agency by combining military space functions into one agency, but leaving the NRO unchanged.  The creation of a single entity will enable better communication throughout national security space systems and the space community. Another option floated by Congress is to create a Space Military to protect the US and its space systems and ensure security in the space domain.

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Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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