Summary of ‘The Need For American Space Dominance’

The ANA Hotel
Washington, D.C.
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
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
    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
    communications to
    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
    mission of
    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.
  • “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.

  • “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

    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
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.”
  • Lieutenant General Keith Smith:

  • “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
    to enjoy.”

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
(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
Intelligence Community
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)

Other Observations

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
an NIE
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
United States
were to lose the ability to use and control outer space. For example, as Major General
(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.
Fred Iklé
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.
  • “And part of the reason is that there are many ways to attack
    , 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.

  • “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.

    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
    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.”

Other Observations

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
ignore the
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
    particular areas.
  • “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.,
bilateral or
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
space to
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
in and
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
    military warfare.”

The Big Picture: Space Dominance And The Future
of Warfare

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
    , 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
    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.)
  • “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.

  • But that all creates a vast potential vulnerability. We have become dependent
    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.
  • “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.

  • “[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
    on space.”

Other Observations

‘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
the need
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:
    • “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’
    programmatic characteristics.

  • The Military Space Plane: Col. Simon Worden, the Air Force’s Deputy
    for Battlefield
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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).

  • The Role of Space in Defending Against Missile Attack: Thomas G.
    , Deputy
    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.
  • Dr. Stewart Nozette, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National
    Laboratory who
    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.

  • 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,
    former Acting
    Secretary of the Air Force. Secretary McCoy’s remarks helpfully underscored, in particular,
    two themes that ran throughout the Roundtable:
    • “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
      even our
      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,
it is
imperative that the issue of space control — brought to the fore by Mr. Clinton’s
vetoes last
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
January 1998).

3. This important Report
to the Congress can no longer be obtained by
contacting the Center.

4. See the Center’s Decision Brief entitled
A Policy Indictment: Sen. Cochran’s
Subcommittee Documents Clinton Incompetence/Malfeasance on Proliferation

(No. 98-D 04,
12 January 1998).

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.”

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