The ANA Hotel
15 January 1998
The thirteenth(1) in the Center for Security Policy’s
series of High-Level Roundtable Discussions
on major national security challenges addressed one of the most strategically significant of all
those currently facing the United States: the Nation’s growing dependence upon space
both military and civilian purposes and the attendant necessity for an American ability to
exercise both assured access to, use of and control over outer space.
The impetus for this Roundtable was provided by President Clinton’s decision last October to
exercise his line-item veto for the first time on “policy grounds” by zeroing out funds provided in
the FY1998 Defense Appropriations bill for two programs — the Clementine II asteroid-intercept
experiment that would have validated space-based missile defense hardware developed under the
Brilliant Pebbles program and the Army’s Kinetic-Kill Anti-Satellite (ASAT) system. A third
program, the Military Space Plane, was vetoed on the grounds that it ostensibly duplicated a
space plane being pursued by NASA, although it would also fall afoul of any policy that precluded
the development of space control technologies.
At a day-long meeting held at Washington’s ANA Hotel, more than 120 participants —
two former Secretaries of Defense, five retired four-star flag officers and a host of other
experienced military and civilian experts critically considered President Clinton’s evident
determination to deny the U.S. military the ability to exercise dominance over outer space as a
theater of operations. The Roundtable focused on three broad areas: The requirement for U.S.
space control; the threat to such control — and the extent to which arms control can mitigate such
threats; and the specific capabilities that will be required if the Nation is to be able to exercise
effective dominance of outer space.
The Requirement For U.S. Space Control
The keynote for the day’s discussion was provided by former Secretary of Defense
Weinberger. Among the many important insights provided by Mr. Weinberger, the
merit special mention:
- “We would not have to have such a meeting about whether or not it would be proper for us
have full access to land or to the sea or, indeed, air under space. These things are pretty well
taken for granted. And it is also taken for granted that part of that involves the rather messy
business of occasionally denying access to others who are not friendly [and] to [those] who
would use it in ways that would be very adverse to your national interests.
- “These are the sort of truisms that I think most people can basically accept. But when it
to space, there is a peculiar, different view that is expressed by many people, and it starts with
the idea — and I heard it many times when I was in office whenever we were taking up satellite
programs and anti-satellite programs — that you cannot ‘militarize space.’ It is a pristine area.
It is sort of like a wilderness area to environmentalists. It can’t be entered, it can’t be touched,
and the idea of militarizing space is something that is quite shocking.
- “The fact is, of course, since the first ballistic missile rose from the pads, space has
military uses by ourselves, by others, and by those friendly to us and those not friendly
to us, and to talk about not allowing space to be militarized is a complete absurdity….In
this kind of world and in the world that we see in the next few years ahead — and they are
really only a few years ahead — it will be as common an environment for war as land or
sea is. So that is, I think, not an argument that should be given any substantial weight,
but it is
an argument that is still heard, and it is one of the reasons why you are hearing from time to
time, and unfortunately from fairly high quarters now, about the desirability of getting treaties
that ban anti-satellite weapons.
- “We cannot take the basic position that there is something immoral about being in space for
military purposes, and we cannot put the country at risk by deliberate attempts to block
us from the use of space or to block any attempts to develop systems that could be
helpful to us in space.
- “There is a high degree of hypocrisy in all of this, of course, because the administration itself
[devoted some time and space] in a rather grandly titled paper called the ‘National Security
Strategy for a New Century,’ which was published in May, with a great many reassuring
statements…to the problems of space. And that policy says… ‘We are committed to
maintaining our leadership in space. Uninhibited access to and use of space is essential for
preserving peace and protecting the U.S. national security as well as civil and commercial
- “I hope that…some firmer resolutions will be emerging which will indicate, again, the
Administration’s commitment, originally stated last spring, that they are committed to
maintaining our leadership in space as opposed to taking a policy which the three vetoes
certainly carries out of making it much more difficult for us to get into space, much more
difficult for us to use it, much more difficult for us to deny access to it by unfriendly
Professional Military Judgments
Secretary Weinberger’s remarks were followed by observations by four highly regarded
military commanders: General Edward “Shy” Meyer (USA, Ret.), Army Chief
of Staff under
President Carter; General John “Mike” Loh (USAF, Ret.), the first
Commander of Air Combat
Command; Admiral Wesley McDonald (USN, Ret.), former Supreme Allied
Atlantic; and Admiral Stanley Arthur (USN, Ret.), former Vice Chief of Naval
Highlights of their comments included the following:
- General Edward Meyer:
- “I [would like to] take you through basically what the warp and woof of the Army is and
their needs are as far as it relates to space….The ability to be able to have position locating
systems and so on that rely upon space to provide [the common soldier] with data and
information is essential if we are going to have smaller armed forces who are able…to operate
over larger areas more effectively.
- “When we know exactly where we are and exactly where the targets are, then the
for ammunition goes down dramatically because you are able to fire one or two rounds, where
before you had to fire six or eight rounds in order to fire and be able to attack targets, and this
is even with non-‘smart’ weaponry.
- “In the special operations area…they have to have the ability…to, one, not only [know] what
going on where they are, but they also have to be able to communicate with a whole lot of
joint entities that are flying around in the skies, and that does not permit you to run fiber optics
out to them or long-range cable entities. That means that we have to be able to deal like many
of the developing countries are today with cellular phone-type data, where the data and
information is fed to them from the skies.
- “For the medical sergeant and the medical NCO, why is he important? Because a soldier is
laying out there and because a doctor can talk to him and tell him how to help that young
soldier and keep him alive. So that is an important adjunct that we have, and require space
- “So I argue that of all the services…space will have the biggest impact upon the
is going to impact on the organizations of the future, and it is going to impact upon the
research and development of the future. We will have very different types of armed forces,
ones — or armies — which are less capable in my judgment, in the long run, which are heavier,
more difficult to project than if we have access to space.”
- Admiral Wesley McDonald:
- “For those people who are still serving in the military and particularly in the Navy, space has
grown to be a very, very important aspect of what they do. I can’t impress you enough as to
how dependent on use of space the Navy is. As Shy used in some of his examples, it is very
important for the Army individual, unit, or group, or whatever we are looking at, to know
where they are. That is absolutely true for the Navy.
- “Even though the ocean is very broad, all around the world, you really can’t hide unless you
have control of what is up there [in space] at times when you really want to assure yourself
you can hide.
- “If we lose the ability to control what is in space — whether it be satellites, whether it be
spacecraft, whether it be other types of intelligence-seeking things [we are in trouble]. And I
want to tell you, without intelligence, nobody knows where they are going or what they are
going to do and what they are going to see.”
- General “Mike” Loh:
- “When I look back and look at all of those forces and people that are required to conduct
combat military missions, Air Force as well as Army, Navy, Marine Corps, how very
dependent they have become, just in the past few years, how very dependent they have
become on space assets. It is almost frightening when you then turn that around and
look at how little we have allowed for the protection and the space superiority of those
- “Let me cover five functions for which today we are almost totally dependent on space
The first is communications….If the DSCS satellites or the MILSTAR satellites
went out of
commission, even some of them, we’d be devastated. We depend on space
knit together a theater battle management system, a command-and-control system that all of
the services will use. It is dependent on space. We have cut the Gordian Knot. There is
more belt-and- suspenders.
- “The warning function is taking on more and more missions. It used to be the
detecting ballistic missile attack against the United States….The warning function that we have
relied on for theater applications, on other means, is now being done to a very large extent
through space assets.
- “The next two, we have just absolutely become totally dependent on, and that is
and weapons delivery….We are dependent on navigation, on knowing where we are and
where everything is on the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. [And] we have now
become dependent on that system for weapons delivery. Every system that I am aware of that
is in development by the services today for precision weapons delivery is based on GPS.
- “The last function I was going to mention is weather, maybe not as
important, but there is still
weather out there. And, of course, the weather function is important for the military,
particularly over areas where you don’t have balloons going up and down and people watching
it that are friendly. The weather function is dependent on space assets.
- “As I look back just over the last couple of years, we have become more and more
on [space] and we want to become dependent on it because, for those functions,
space is a
more efficient medium than the way we did it before. It is less costly in the long run, and it is
better. I am all for it, provided we can maintain space
- “When you read the Air Force’s long-range plan, there are a lot of good words about how it
going to maintain superiority for these functions that I talked to you about, communications,
warning, navigation, weapons delivery, weather, and the desire to move missions like AWACS
and Joint Stars, radar and moving target indication missions from those atmospheric platforms
to space platforms, which will happen over time. A lot of attention [is being] focused [on]
- “But when it comes to the focus on how you are going to achieve and maintain space
superiority and core competency, it falls short because of the policy issues that Secretary
Weinberger and [Center Director] Frank [Gaffney, Jr.] have talked about. They fall
because the Air Force and the other services are unable to address it overtly.
- “So, on the one hand, we have become dependent on the use of space to perform all
military functions, including that of weapons delivery, and on the other hand, we are operating
kind of with our head in the sand saying we are going to be able to do that when we know that
there is the strong possibility that a determined adversary can intrude, can jam, can, in fact,
damage or destroy those space assets if they wanted to. So that is the dilemma.
- “It just strikes me that we have become so overly dependent on space, and we have a new
standard out of the Gulf War that we have to win quickly and decisively with overwhelming
force and few casualties. We are dependent on all of these space assets to do that. We ought
to take the necessary means to ensure the survivability and reliability against a dedicated
“They are saying if the policy changes, if the national command authority seeks to
develop space-based interceptors, space-based lasers, we are right there, we are ready
to go, but they are unable to do that because of the policy issue.
- Admiral Stan Arthur:
- “If we go back to the Gulf War…the great perception was that we used space very
intelligently and [that] it completely supported the objectives of the campaign. In
reality, we were on the ragged edge. We did not have the [communications] that we
needed…For me out at sea, I had very limited capability to accomplish the tasks I needed to do
relative to the use of space. I had every piece of equipment that I could [use
to]…communicate with in space dedicated [to that task], and, yet, I had more demands than I
could possibly meet.
- “The remote units for the land/air side of the house had the same problem I did. If they were
not hooked up with land lines, then they had the same problem. There was not enough space
assets available to us.
- “When the theater sort of expanded, when the Iraqis took their aircraft off into Iran and we
didn’t know exactly what they were doing, now we ran into the intelligence shortfall. There
were not enough assets in space to watch both the primary battlefield and the sides of the
range that we were looking at. They just weren’t there.
- “My Tomahawks had to be reprogrammed very quickly, as the target-base changed. We did
that with 0’s and 1’s floating through space to retarget those Tomahawks on the units — the
submarines and the ships — before they launched. Today, the Navy is talking about
[re]programming in the air. How do you do that? Where does that asset come from, and is
that asset going to be there when you want it to be there? The issue…is not only can we use it,
but will it be there when we need it?
- “I was fortunate enough to participate in an Air Force war game at Maxwell [Air Force
recently — Global Engagement ’97, played in 2012 — where we were working a problem
with a near peer who had the ability to influence events in space, and utter chaos
- “If they are able to pick and choose what pieces of space we can use, then that very
dramatically impacts our efficiency, and we are all about efficiency today because the force
levels continue to go down, and we are demanding more from each soldier, sailor, airman, and
- “We are not backing away from having that access, and we are certainly in great support of
anything that we can do to make the assurance that those assets are going to be available. It is
very key, I think, for the future of all of our organizations.”
Two distinguished retired Marines, Lieutenant Generals Thomas
Miller and Keith Smith
— both former Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Aviation — provided a Marine perspective on the
importance of space:
- Lieutenant General Tom Miller:
- “Timely communications is more necessary today than at any other time in the history of
warfare because time is the most important element to any commander. He may have a small
force. He may have less weapons, but if he has the advantage of time, [he can prevail.]
Consequently, communications are absolutely necessary, intelligence and so forth. So the
ability to protect our space communications capability is paramount at this time, and we must
not forget it.
- “It seems to me in our basic research policies [on space control], no matter what it costs, we
are going to have to go for it — because if we don’t, we are going to be behind the curve.”
- “We are at a moment of truth in this country, in my view. [We must develop] scenarios [for
the need for space dominance] that are convincing to the American public. [What is at stake]
is not just military requirements; it is their way of life, their daily existence is going to be
dependent upon [it] if they expect to continue the standard of living that they are daily learning
Lieutenant General Keith Smith:
Additional Inputs by Senior Military Officers
The observations made by these officers were further supported by other former high-ranking
military leaders. One such individual, Vice Admiral J.D. Williams (USN, Ret.),
Commander, 3rd Fleet, pointedly made clear what currency the price for loss of
control of space
will be paid in — the lives of American military personnel:
- “We need to know where our targets are so we can kill them….In the next 5 years, the
resolution and capabilities will be for sale for anybody who wants to buy it, including our
enemies, that would tell them where we are.
- “So, in my opinion, if we follow [the Clinton Administration’s] policy, we have
automatically said we are going to increase our casualties significantly. It does not take
an analyst to determine that if the enemy knows where we are, we can’t surprise them, and
they are going to hit….If we do not maintain space dominance, to deny them the space
intelligence, we are in real trouble in any future war.“
Another important observation was made by Major General Vince
Falter (USA, Ret.),
former Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, concerning the
economies in end-strength that reliance upon space has made possible — but that could prove to
be serious liabilities in the event the United States military is denied the use of or control over
outer space in a future conflict.
- “There is another aspect that most people don’t recognize. It is a fallout of putting those
capabilities in space and networking them in that it reduces military force structure.
- “We have to preserve our capability to continue using space assets to do these things. If we
lose our satellites, [if] we can’t protect our satellites, we are going to find out that when we go
to fight the war, we cannot reconstitute these ground capabilities that we have given
We can’t reconstitute target acquisition battalions on the fly, or survey platoons and
communications platoons. That is just beyond our ability to do in any reasonable period of
Vice Admiral Al Burkhalter (USN, Ret.), former Director of the
Staff, seconded the foregoing assessments of the importance of space to the U.S. military and
emphasized the necessity of protecting its space assets:
- “I think that, today, the military services are more dependent than ever for space
reconnaissance assets. Knowledge of the battlefield from space is essential to the future of
warfare….It is essential that we can protect those assets in the future because reconnaissance
from space will continue to be of such supreme importance to our military forces.” These
points were forcefully underscored by an Open Letter to the President
publically released for
the first time in the course of the Roundtable. This letter, signed by 43 of the country’s most
eminent military leaders — including former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Commanders-in-Chief (CINCs) and many other distinguished career officers — urged President
Clinton “to heed the recommendations of the National Defense Panel with respect to assuring
an American capability to ‘deny our enemies the use of space.'” href=”#N_2_”>(2)
Getting the Word to Congress and the Public: A recurrent theme
throughout the day’s
discussion was the need to acquaint the Congress and the American people with the insights
presented in the course of the Roundtable Discussion by the senior military commanders and other
participants. Former U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) remarked that,
during his lengthy
service in the Congress, he had found it all but impossible to elicit the sorts of assessments
described above. It was observed that President Clinton’s enunciation of a manifestly
unacceptable policy on space control should provide a focus for debate and corrective action on
Capitol Hill that has been lacking heretofore.
The discussion recognized that this will require on the part of Members of Congress the
and industry needed to elicit the best professional military judgments from those still on active
duty. It will also require a willingness on the latters’ part to recognize their obligation to provide
such testimony even where it conflicts with the President’s policy. This obligation
flows from the
oath officers swear to the Nation and its Constitution — which supercedes the responsibilities
inherent in the military’s subordination to the Commander-in-Chief. The contribution that could
be made to illuminating this issue by respected retired military personnel, like those present at the
Roundtable, was also repeatedly stressed.
The Threat to U.S. Control of Space: This portion of the Roundtable also
focused attention on
the absence of a current, accurate National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the space threat.
Several participants with intelligence backgrounds commented on the fact that such an assessment
did not currently exist because of the low priority the Clinton Administration has assigned to the
topic and its tendency to regard space, for policy reasons, not as a separate topic for intelligence
collection and documentation, but as part of other topics. It was generally agreed that
on threats to U.S. control of space should be promptly prepared.
Other suggestions included a net assessment on space control to be performed by Dr. Andrew
Marshall’s excellent (but bureaucratically imperilled) Net Assessment organization and a
congressionally mandated “Team B” review of the subject by knowledgeable outside experts who
should be granted access to the necessary classified information for the purpose of providing a
“second opinion” on the official space threat estimate.
The Commercial and Civil Stakes: Another theme that recurred
throughout the day involved
the increasing use being made of space for civilian purposes — and the attendant impact on
virtually every facet of American society and the economy that would be felt if the
were to lose the ability to use and control outer space. For example, as Major General
Singlaub (USA, Ret.) noted, the Federal Aviation Administration is now implementing a
that will in the future rely on the space-based Global Positioning System for instrument landings
of civil aircraft. Should that system be attacked, jammed or otherwise degraded, it could bring
commercial aviation in this country to a standstill.
The Threats To U.S. Control Of Space
The Roundtable next turned to a more detailed discussion of the degree to which American
equities in space — notably, the U.S. ability to use outer space for communications, precision
location (for both logistics, targeting and, increasingly, weapons delivery) and
collection — are at risk. It also addressed what contribution, if any, arms control could make to
preventing such threats.
This discussion was led by two individuals with considerable experience in both areas:
Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Chief Negotiator at the U.S.-Soviet
Defense and Space Talks in
Geneva and former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, and Dr.
former Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and Under Secretary of Defense
for Policy. Highlights of their remarks and the discussion that followed them include the
Ambassador Henry Cooper
- “Can the U.S. control of space be threatened, and, secondly, can arms control prevent such
threats? The short answers are ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ [respectively]. The reason for both is because
of the inevitable advance of technology, which is beyond the control of the Department of
Defense to inhibit.
- “It’s only a matter of time before the benefits [of space technology] will be available to friend
and foe alike. They’ll either have the capabilities themselves or they’ll have access to the data
from these capabilities, which will be widely available. Regrettably, I believe that we in the
military establishment…are not fully exploiting these technologies ourselves — because they
not ‘politically correct.’
- “There are many ways to attack satellite systems….I would just point out to you…what I
is still a timely report…that we put together in March of 1984. href=”#N_3_”>(3) At that time, as a [response]
to the Tsongas Amendment, which was trying to stop testing of our ASAT activities, I worked
with T.K. Jones, [Center for Security Policy Director] Frank [Gaffney] and the interagency
process, including the National Reconnaissance Office…to put what I think is still a quite
sound report together, which suggests why arms control can’t really work.
- “The debate [about space control] is important, and it is important that it begin.
We also need
to do something, I believe, to assure that key technologies stay alive during this
period so that they can be revived when they are politically correct again.“
“And part of the reason is that there are many ways to attack
satellites, directly by
[using] ballistic missiles….Lasers are potentially effective, and they don’t necessarily
have to be high-powered lasers to be effective. Electronic warfare is on everybody’s
screen these days…The threats to, of course, links for communication as well as ground
stations and so on have already been a reality. These issues are not far-fetched, and
they explain, in fact, why arms control really can’t help with the process. The 1984
report, I think, covers this in detail, and I would recommend it to you.
- Dr. Fred Iklé:
- “On the threat…the ongoing, vast expansion of the commercial uses of space is continuing
it involves a great many countries — including potential enemies — that will acquire willy-nilly
military capabilities as dual capabilities emerging under the cover, intentionally or
inadvertently, of their commercial space capabilities.
- “So it is not something that is going to stop with some agreement on
ASAT and [it is]
something that is going to expand as a result of the commercial process. It is a
parallel to the
situation we have in some areas weapons of mass destruction proliferation — particularly in
that of biological weapons, where the pharmaceutical developments keep going on regardless
of what you try to do with arms control.
- “Now, why can’t arms control work here?…This is not an issue of a bipolar world, as the
ASAT issue was in the past, where you have to look at one adversary and see what he is doing
and whether he is not cheating and so on….This is multi-polar, and it’s multi-polar because, as
I mentioned, of the civilian capabilities that enable the Iraqs, the Irans, China, Indonesia, what
have you, Korea, North and South, and so on to have their own space capabilities that can
compete with ours, that can give them targeting….And that list of the emerging civilian
capabilities, near-military or complementary to military, I think, ought to be an important part
of that threat assessment that has been mentioned this morning.
- “But to pretend to believe that pieces of signed paper in this area will help us, really
is contrary to the lessons of history, which are unfolding in front of our own eyes. If we
let some paper prohibiting ASAT, for example, prohibiting certain military uses of space
[dictate] our future policy in this area, that is not the end of it. That is the beginning of the
slippery slope. Then maybe we should have fewer spy satellites…Then have paper agreements
that for communications we can rely on these international organizations….Eventually,
get to the heart of the matter, which is [the compromise of] U.S. military sovereignty in
this domain of space.”
Russia’s Abiding Commitment to Space Control: In the context of threats
to U.S. space
dominance, Lieutenant General Edward Rowny (USA, Ret.) observed that we
Kremlin’s activities at our peril.
- “The Russians’ conventional forces are in shambles, but, yet, they are spending a great deal
money on their offensive systems, and [they are investing in] particular a great deal of money
and pride in their space systems. So you have this contradiction there that, on the one hand,
they are broke and, on the other hand, they are spending a great deal of money in these
- “I [am not suggesting] that the Russians are going to strike immediately. I want to point
however, that there is a great deal of hostility, animosity, and they are not very friendly. It is
becoming worse, and they are working to just put more and more emphasis on what they
want to see as an extension of the ABM Treaty so that they can not only get some
advantages in an offensive manner, but so they can get an advantage in space. I think
should not lose sight of the fact that they are moving in this direction.”
Proliferation of Space Capabilities: A number of interventions
addressed the national
security implications of increasing access to space capabilities (launch, reconnaissance,
communications, precision locating, etc.) on the part of potential adversaries. Participants were
encouraged to refer to the recent documentation of this, among other, ominous proliferation
trends by the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation
and Federal Services in its recent study entitled The Proliferation Primer. href=”#N_4_”>(4)
Consideration was given to the role arrangements other than arms control (e.g.,
multilateral export control agreements) could play in slowing, if not curbing, this trend. As a
practical matter, given the burgeoning and irreversible commercialization of space, the general
sentiment seemed to be that U.S. interests will be best served by assuring that the Nation has the
capability — in a timely and discriminate fashion — to deny access to and/or use of
potential foes. As Dr. Iklé put it: “The fighting for proliferation [controls] is a valuable
guard action, but that’s all it is. And, if you go for it too far, we get entrapped into
international agreements and to limitations on ourselves that deprive us in the end of more
military capability than proliferation would ever take away from us.“
The Need to Develop the Art of War in Space: It was observed that, apart
from war games
that have recently demonstrated the significant impact threats to U.S. control of space can have
on American land, sea and air operations, little has been done to conceptualize the doctrines and
strategies that would, if accompanied by the requisite military capabilities, assure this Nation’s
space dominance. This shortfall clearly must be promptly addressed. It seems unlikely to be
rectified, however, unless and until the Clinton Administration policy that forecloses such
capabilities is reversed.
Tribute To General Bernard Schriever
A highpoint of the Roundtable occurred when the participants paid tribute to the enormous
contribution made to U.S. security by one of the Nation’s pioneers in the use of space,
Bernard Schriever (USAF, Ret.), in the course of more than fifty years of service — both
out of uniform.
Gen. Schriever responded by sharing his insights garnered from hard personal experience with
earlier policy and technology impediments to United States’ use of space for military purposes —
notably in the development and deployment of the Nation’s first long-range ballistic missiles. The
following were among the highlights of his impromptu remarks:
- “No one has mentioned here the new ICBMs that the Soviets have fielded in recent months.
They have ICBMs that are mobile. They have them in hardened sites. In other words, they
have a flexibility capability with the use of their ICBMs. They can use them as space launch
vehicles at any point they wanted to do so. They have them in tunnels and so forth.
- “Our only places for space launches are Cape Canaveral and Vandenburg and, [while] we
mentioned that, we pass over it, as though it isn’t very important….If any major war should
occur in the next 10 or 20 years, [those facilities] would be knocked out, just like that. Those
were built back in the days when we were testing ICBMs and IRBMs. They have just
increased the size of the facilities, but they haven’t done a thing with respect to reducing the
vulnerability of our launch capability for space operations.
- “That has been a policy. It has been a U.S. policy, and unless we do something to get the
policy changed…I think our best bet is to try to keep the most important technology going that
will allow us to move into space.
- “I am very discouraged about the line item vetoes. It may be that we can get that turned
around, but as long as this Administration takes the position that it does, we are not going to
get a true military space capability.
- “I have found in my own experience, we can get things done when the American people
believe that we have a crisis, just like we got the ICBM program….We did the Minuteman
program in 5 years. Concurrency was supposed to cost a lot of money. The hell it does. You
know, we keep programs going for 10 or 15 years. Time is money. So, in fact, we saved a lot
of money because we did use concurrency as a major way of doing business. You don’t build
everything that way, but your most important programs in this country ought to be built under
the concept of concurrency.
- “I am just trying to point out that I think we have the capability. We are number one in the
world today, and we will be number one in the world for quite some time to come in all
respects, and I think that space is going to be the dominant factor in changing the concepts of
The Big Picture: Space Dominance And The Future
Dr. James Schlesinger, former Secretary of the Departments of Defense
and Energy and
Director of the CIA, provided a “Big Picture” context to the Roundtable’s deliberations. He
addressed trends that are powerfully reinforcing the priority that must be assigned to maintaining
U.S. control of space. Among Secretary Schlesinger’s most important insights were the
- “The United States has been thrust, in part, and has agreed in part, to become what the
have called the one universal power. We are the leader of the international community,
sometimes willingly, frequently willingly.
- “At the same time, the public has tuned out with regard to foreign policy. It is reflected in
of the polls. As we acquire more and more responsibilities, we have become de facto,
if not de
jure, the world’s policeman. We deny it, but that seems to be our role. We are engaged in
more and more responsibilities with — and here is the critical point — an ever-thinner margin in
terms of the capital of public support.
- “We become ever more dependent upon the effectiveness, the total effectiveness of our
conventional forces. I don’t need to spell out to this audience what that implies with regard to
space capabilities. ‘Total battlefield awareness’ was a buzz word from the Gulf War. href=”#N_5_”>(5) Vision
2010 tells us that we must have in the year 2010 ‘full spectrum dominance.’ (That is, by the
way, an illusion that we might want to come back to. It is an illusion with regard to the large
nuclear-equipped countries such as Russia and China.)
- “But that all creates a vast potential vulnerability. We have become dependent
space. We have become dependent upon interventions in which any large number of
will likely forfeit public support. In short, are we on the verge of over-dependence on space?
Space provides us with the source of force multipliers in an age in which our forces continue to
shrink and, indeed, maybe overextend[ed].
- “Much of the technology which we are now exploiting was unknown to other countries prior
to the Gulf War. In the Gulf War, we showcased that technology, and that technology is
trickling down, if I may borrow a phrase from the world of economics, trickling down to
countries that are in a position to pick that technology up much more quickly than anyone
would have thought.
- “[Next, consider] commercial imagery. We shall shortly be faced in a world in which
commercial imagery is available at 3-meters resolution to anyone who wishes to purchase it.
This causes a certain amount of consternation, I believe, to the Director of Central Intelligence
and to people at CIA. We have lost our exclusiveness, exclusive access to these kinds of
capabilities, and perhaps even more important, we have lost the element of surprise.
- “This, I believe, is the ultimate asymmetry for the United States. We are dependent on
support to sustain an ambitious foreign policy. That public support is, in turn, dependent upon
a very low, if not zero, casualties, and a high degree, a very high degree of effectiveness of our
forces, — an exemplary display of those conventional forces — and that, in turn, is dependent
“And we must effectively exploit our conventional advantages if, indeed, we are
going to achieve kinds of effectiveness on which political support is dependent —
and that means, of course, space, sensors, communications, intelligence.
“I start with the GPS system on which our movement through the desert during the
Gulf War was dependent. Saddam Hussein never dreamed that the United States
would be able to move that quickly through the desert because we would get lost, as all
prior parties had. No one will ever be ignorant of the GPS system in the future, and
much of the capabilities of that system are now available to anybody who has the road
to Radio Shack.
‘Spinning-On‘ Civilian Technologies: The ensuing discussion
called attention to the growing
potential of commercial space programs to provide technologies that will be valuable to the
military — as well as to other armed forces. Drawing on such technologies could considerably
shorten the acquisition cycle for securing expanded communications, reconnaissance and other
capabilities that will be valuable to both the American defense and civilian sectors.
To the extent that U.S. users — whether military or commercial — become dependent upon
assets, however, the challenge of denying their use to hostile powers in time of conflict will
become ever more complex. This is particularly true to the extent that many of these expensive
assets are going to be owned by foreign or multinational entities, href=”#N_6_”>(6) making uncertain (if not
problematic) the prospects for voluntary cooperation in temporarily suspending some or all of the
space services thus provided.
The Roundtable highlighted the need for urgent analysis of the policy and programmatic
implications of this emerging reality. Under all circumstances, though, it would appear that the
Nation will require the capability selectively to neutralize and/or destroy space hardware that
could jeopardize the security and success of its military operations. At the very least, the fact that
the United States has these means at its disposal increases its leverage in encouraging cooperation
on the part of foreign and multinational operators of satellites that could cause us harm.
Space Control — A Candidate for the National Defense Panel’s Joint Testing
Gen. Meyer noted that the National Defense Panel had not only identified as a priority
for the U.S. space control, but also proposed a means of validating the concepts and programs
needed to provide it. If the NDP’s proposal to create a Joint Testing Group is implemented, one
of its first orders of business might well be the evaluation of what will be required to assure
American space dominance.
What It Will Take For The U.S. To Control
Finally, the Roundtable concluded with a review of some of the specific capabilities likely to
needed to meet the United States’ future space control requirements. Each of these topics
warrants substantial development and rigorous consideration in its own right. At the risk of not
doing justice to any of them in this brief summary — and in the knowledge that many of the points
that were raised in the earlier portion of the discussion (and described above) were addressed in
one or more of the afternoon sessions — what follows is but the barest of descriptions of those
sessions and the thrust of the remarks made by their respective lead discussants.
- The NDP’s Views on Space: The Roundtable was privileged to have a
member of the blue-ribbon National Defense Panel, Dr. Andrew Krepinevich,
present to discuss its
recommendations concerning, among other things, the need for the United States: to have
reliable, ready and affordable access to space(7); to be able
to defend its assets in space; and to
be able to deny the use of space to potential adversaries. Dr. Krepinevich is an alumnus of Dr.
Marshall’s Net Assessment Organization in the Pentagon and currently serves as the Executive
Director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He warned that:
- The Military Space Plane: Col. Simon Worden, the Air Force’s Deputy
Dominance, described the technology development work being done on the Military Space
Plane prior to its veto by President Clinton. Participants then discussed the importance of
having a space plane optimized to perform military missions.
- Anti-Satellite Weapons: Hon. James Hackett, former Acting Director of
the Arms Control
and Disarmament Agency, led consideration of the need for U.S. anti-satellite capabilities. Mr.
Hackett suggested that the United States’ interest in space control argues for a multiplicity
ASAT systems: “We ought to be able to do a hard kill, a soft kill, jam communications,
temporary blinding, hit the ground stations, or whatever means is most suitable for the
situation.” He noted that the nearest-term option, however, is the Army Kinetic-Energy
ASAT, which could be available in as little as 2-3 years. Unfortunately, this was one of the
programs line-item vetoed by President Clinton.
- The Role of Space in Defending Against Missile Attack: Thomas G.
Director of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies at the Heritage Foundation, led a discussion of
the contribution space-based systems could make to correcting an ever-more obvious military
shortfall — the ability to defend U.S. forces and allies overseas and the American homeland
ballistic missile attack. Mr. Moore made an impassioned appeal for a principled, forthright
effort to educate the public about the moral and strategic roots of this shortfall and the urgent
need to correct them.
- Space Policy Changes Now in Order: The Roundtable Discussion
concluded with an
excellent summary of the policy and programmatic redirection needed if the United States is to
be able to exercise space control in the future, provided by Hon. Tidal McCoy,
Secretary of the Air Force. Secretary McCoy’s remarks helpfully underscored, in particular,
two themes that ran throughout the Roundtable:
“Developing these kinds of capabilities typically take a decade, often two, and if you see
the panel did these kinds of challenges developing over the next 10 to 15 years, then the
imperative is to begin now because — for many reasons, technology lead times,
development of a new doctrine and so on, working with the Congress, these things, the
bureaucracy. These things tend to take time. So waiting for the next QDR, the QDR after next
to begin to focus on this problem is really waiting too long.”
The discussion also addressed the potentially decisive contribution that space-based
and space-transiting weapon systems might make to future U.S. power-projection
capabilities. It was emphasized that the option for using “space transportation”
systems for such missions — as opposed to exclusive consideration of their more
traditional payload-to-orbit function — must be considered in defining these systems’
The Roundtable considered the characteristics that would permit such optimization:
the capability to enjoy on-demand, highly reliable and relatively low-cost access to
space (a function of a concept of operations and technology approach oriented to
achieving readiness rates associated with jet turbine-powered aircraft); considerable
mission flexibility (from placing payloads into orbit to performing suborbital
reconnaissance to delivering weapons); and, ideally, providing the independence from
large launch complexes and fixed runways that a vehicle capable of austere vertical
take-off and landing would permit.
Mr. Hackett stressed that this system was specifically designed as a tactical
anti-satellite weapon. It would consequently be incapable of attacking geosynchronous
satellites used, for example, by the Russians for early warning of missile attack — a
concern expressed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in a letter sent to President
Clinton last September and one that apparently motivated the subsequent Clinton line-item vetoes
of space control technologies. As a result, the United States is now
acceding to what Mr. Hackett described as “Moscow’s real purpose [which] is to
prevent the U.S. from deploying the weapons it needs to control space.” That will
certainly be the effect, unless the present policy is reversed, as the United States will be
denied the ability to neutralize threatening low-earth orbiting satellites (notably,
reconnaissance, radar and signals intelligence assets).
Dr. Stewart Nozette, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National
previously served as the Technical Advisor for the Clementine II experiment at the
USAF Phillips Laboratory, described the progress that was being made through that
scientific experiment (and its predecessor, Clementine I) to validate space-based missile
defense technology derived from the now-terminated Brilliant Pebbles program. Dr.
Nozette also reinforced points made earlier in the day about the contribution that that
SDI program has made to the development of constellations of small satellites with
enormous potential benefit for both military and commercial applications.
“In the military arena, we need to develop the space military doctrines, organizations, and
systems that can aid our security on earth, and our population, commerce, installations, and
vehicles in space. Anti-satellite systems, military space planes, missile defense, and surveillance
systems are all early requirements. The Air Force will need to turn itself into a full aerospace
force and should now change its name to the ‘United States Aerospace Force.’
“Phoney arms control issues and over-sensitivity to calculated rhetoric should not continue to
stand in our way. Our military policy in space has too long been one of seeking the lowest-
common-denominator so that we do not ‘threaten’ anyone. This posture is guaranteed to
others to threaten us. This idea of being a dormant military in space is now permeating
terrestrial posture. Being weak and vacillating never deterred or defended or won very much.”
Upon its return to Capitol Hill, the Congress will be obliged to tackle a number of initiatives
President Clinton has unveiled in recent weeks that have long-term implications for the well-being
of the American people and polity. Given the enormous stakes for the Nation’s security,
imperative that the issue of space control — brought to the fore by Mr. Clinton’s
October — be high on that list. The Center for Security Policy hopes that its High-Level
Roundtable Discussion will serve as a valuable catalyst to such a needed national debate.
— End of Summary —
1. In addition, the Center’s William J. Casey Institute has sponsored
four Casey Symposia
addressing economic, financial, technological and/or energy issues that have important
implications for U.S. national security.
2. See the Center’s Decision Brief entitled
43 of the Nation’s Most Eminent Military Leaders
Insist that the U.S. Must Be Able — and Allowed — to Dominate Outer Space ( href=”index.jsp?section=papers&code=98-P_07″>No. 98-P 07, 15
3. This important Report
to the Congress can no longer be obtained by
contacting the Center.
5. Dr. Schlesinger observed that, “We talk about battlefield
awareness. We ought to remember
that awareness is a two-way street. There is a growing awareness
out there of our critical
dependence on space and, therefore, on our potential vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities are
both military and geopolitical.”
6. An important sidebar to this discussion was the observation that,
in the name of free trade, the
United States is turning a blind eye to the strategic implications of the transfer of U.S. technology
— that related to space (e.g., allowing China to launch U.S. satellites) and otherwise — to potential
7. Dr. Krepinevich said “Launch diversity is the weak link in our
satellite architecture; basically
the fact that we only have two launch sites [and] that we don’t have a rapid relaunch capability.”