Space power: What is at stake, what will it take

On the day that nineteen distinguished retired U.S. military commanders warned President Clinton that a U.S.-Russian agreement expected to be signed later in the week in Brussels is inconsistent with his declared space policy — and with the Nation’s national security and economic interests — the Center for Security Policy convened the latest of its High-Level Roundtable Discussions to address “Space Power: What is at Stake, What will it Take.”

The discussion brought together over 80 past and present senior military officers, executive branch officials, industry leaders, members of the press, and congressional staff members. The Roundtable featured important contributions by its lead discussants: Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Major General Brian Arnold, USAF, Director, Space and Nuclear Deterrence, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition; Dr. Lawrence Gershwin, National Intelligence Officer for Space; Richard Fisher, Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation; Dr. Marty Faga, former Director of the National Reconnaissance Office; Ambassador Henry Cooper, former Director, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization; Dr. James Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense and Energy, and Director of Central Intelligence; and General Charles Horner, USAF (Ret.), former Commander, U.S. Space Command, and a member of the Commission on National Security Space Management and Organization, chaired by Secretary of Defense-designate Donald Rumsfeld.

The present Rumsfeld Commission is scheduled to release its report on 11 January and its findings are expected to address many of the points covered in the CSP Roundtable. In fact, it seems likely that the highlights of last month’s event, summarized in the following pages, will represent a sneak preview of the Commission’s deliberations and conclusions.

This is especially the case in light of news reports that Communist China has completed ground tests of a microsatellite it calls a “parasite satellite” said to be capable of attaching itself undetected to and, upon command, disabling or destroying satellites at all altitudes. Such a development is not unexpected (see the discussion that follows of China’s space control program); its announcement should, nonetheless, serve to concentrate the minds of U.S. policy-makers on the urgent need to establish American space power capabilities.

Senator Smith Calls for U.S. Space Control

Sen. Smith — who has, during his tenure in the Senate, established a reputation as one of the Nation’s most thoughtful and indefatigable advocates of space power — keynoted the Roundtable with a forceful call for safe, reliable and affordable U.S. access to and control of space. Sen. Smith said in part:



  • “I believe that space power is absolutely critical to the future security of this nation. I cannot emphasize that enough. [Yet,] I think when you look at…the resources and how they are allocated, it does not support the concept that space power is critical to the future security of this nation. Our resources don’t even come close, not even close, to supporting that concept.”


  • “Over the last 40 years…this nation has grown to be the world leader in space, thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of many Americans….But many of you have heard me in the past express my own personal dismay that our military focus over the years has been limited more to information superiority, not true space power, and there is a difference between information superiority and true space power.”


  • “The space systems we have today provide remote sensing, navigation, communications and other support services to all of our land, air, and sea forces. And don’t misunderstand me, I do support information superiority. It’s very important. It’s critical. We all witnessed what happened in Desert Storm and without information superiority, that could have been a disaster.”


  • “But there are two other types of programs that are missing if we are to achieve true space power: Number one, we have lacked space control technology and capabilities. We don’t have space control capability, in my view. If we intend to maintain our information superiority, we need a strong space control program to protect our assets and to deny our adversaries the use of their own systems.”


  • “Having shown the world the utility of space systems, it would be pretty naive to think that our adversaries are just going to be sitting around idly and not developing their own space-based information capabilities and the tools and techniques to counter the current U.S. space advantage….We see a proliferation of reconnaissance navigation and communication satellites in countries all around the world. China is involved in that, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Russia. We have witnessed operations on a massive scale to deceive our intelligence assets prior to the India and Pakistan nuclear tests. We continue to read in the press about our adversaries developing rapid access to space capabilities and anti-satellite weapons, as well.”

  • KE-ASAT and Other Space Programs


  • “That’s why for years I have pushed…for programs like [Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite Weapon] KE-ASAT. KE-SAT is a low cost, low risk, near-term — near-term, I emphasize — space control capability to use as a last resort to deny an adversary the use of space. Without an anti-satellite capability, today’s foreign and commercial surveillance satellites could easily detect our now famous dogleg in the desert that allowed the U.S. to quickly end the Desert Storm operation with very few casualties.”


  • “Without KE-ASAT, this nation will not have the satellite negation capability to deter satellite operators from sharing or selling our adversaries sensitive intelligence of the U.S. military, resulting in longer wars and more lives lost.”


  • “Since 1993, almost alone, I have had to put back in the budget, year after year after year, the money for KE-ASAT. We’ve spent $350 million on that program. We have another 40 or 50 million to spend to finish the job, to have the three kill vehicles tested. Yet, what’s happened? I have been attacked, personally attacked by Members [of the Senate], some in this Administration, for supporting this program. Many in the program have been attacked, have been investigated, have been harassed. That’s what has happened in this Administration, and I believe it’s a deliberate bias against space activity, military space activity.”


  • “The bottom line is we need a comprehensive space control program and we don’t need it tomorrow. We need it now, right now.”


  • “And [second,] we have lacked a flexible power-projection capability that leverages the advantages of space and space flight — programs like space-based laser and the space plane. A space-based laser will someday provide precision strike at the speed of light. It could potentially engage not only targets in space, but also targets in the air, on the ground, and on the sea. But we’re not spending the dollars that we need to spend on that program.”


  • “A military space plane promises low-cost, rapid access to space for a variety of space control and information superiority missions. Can you imagine being able to launch that and getting anywhere in the world in about 45 minutes? Yet…it was line item vetoed by the President of the United States two years ago, one of three items, and only three military items that were line items, only three, space plane, KE-ASAT, and Clementine, all line item vetoed….Luckily, the Supreme Court found the line item veto unconstitutional and the budgets Congress put in place for these programs were restored. However, the money was still not spent, for the most part. It was basically ignored.”


  • “The Administration was not able to kill these mandated space programs, but they did their best to ensure that the needed space power technologies were not pursued and that the program management was muddled, and it happened in KE-ASAT and it’s happening in the space plane and it’s happening in Clementine.”


  • “The annual budgets repeatedly shortchange space programs. The annual realignment of funds at the end of each fiscal year disproportionately takes money from space programs to fund other service activities. And I’m not dumping on any other service activities. They are necessary, many of them, but you do have to prioritize. People without space background are promoted ahead of people with space background. Treaties have negotiated away our space advantage. We kneel at the alter of the ABM treaty, in spite of the fact that we know that the ABM treaty is restricting — is restricting our ability to do what we need to do.

  • Space Commission


  • “You shouldn’t be surprised if we’re not accessing space in this Administration….That’s why I established, with language in last year’s budget, the Commission on National Security Space Management and Organization, commonly referred to as the Space Commission….the Commission has 13 nationally-recognized space experts. I met with Donald Rumsfeld [Chairman of the Commission]. I have a great amount of confidence in him.”


  • “I just want a fair look, and today’s military space efforts, in my view, are primarily led by the Air Force. And despite…a lot of rhetoric by the Air Force leadership and civilian leaders to the contrary, the Air Force, as a whole, not individually, some are very outspoken, has not shown me that space is a priority.”


  • “I have explicitly asked the Space Commission to look at the creation of a separate space force. Maybe that’s a little premature, but let’s get it on the table, let’s talk about it. A solution as Draconian as breaking off a separate space force may be necessary to overcome the ingrained bias that we see right now against space, and it may be the only way to ensure that funds that have been allocated for space are spent for just that and not just ignored or buried somewhere in the budget or put somewhere else.”

  • Space Management


  • “The problems are not just in the military and the Executive Branch, however. The way we manage space here on the Hill also needs to be looked at….There are six committees in the Congress that oversee space: House/Senate Armed Services, House/Senate Intelligence, and House/Senate Appropriations. If the U.S. is to maintain its current lead in national space security at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers, we need to better coordinate activities among these committees. The kinds of things that need better coordination are three, real quickly: mix of tactical and national reconnaissance, the mix of space and airborne reconnaissance and the way we do tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination.”

  • Conclusion


  • “Whoever controls space will control the destiny of earth and when you look at the options out there, I would ask you, who do you want it to be, Iran, Russia, Iraq, China? I don’t think so.”


  • “For those who doubt and say we can’t militarize space, I would say to you, do you want somebody else to do it?…It will be no different than the militarization of earth by the United States of America. As witnessed by World War II, when Tom Brokaw said “The greatest generation did what it did,” we use it wisely, we use it cautiously, and we only use it when we have to for the protection of earth, and that’s exactly what we’ll do in space. Exactly what we will do in space.”

Global Utilities

The Roundtable’s next heard from the Director, Space and Nuclear Deterrence, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Maj. Gen. Brian Arnold USAF. Gen. Arnold’s address, entitled “What is at Stake: Global Utilities,” provided the participants with an overview of some of the threats faced by U.S. space assets and the different ways they could be protected. Highlights of Gen. Arnold’s presentation include the following:



  • “The Air Force has taken great strides to look internally at whether or not we want to continue to be a strong advocate for space….From the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on down, we are ready to step along to continue that path and we have some ideas.”

  • Global Utilities


  • “…[There are] various civil, military, as well as international space capabilities…that our economy [is] relying on day in and day out, from environmental to imaging, to location, to timing. And all of these are critical to our national infrastructure, to our national security, and our nation has become very dependent on all these capabilities.”


  • “The importance of space to the nation is clear….We were recently talking to folks from Aerospace Industries Association of America…and they are forecasting out around at 2005 to see the commercial investments go as high as $160 billion a year. While the low-earth-orbit market has flattened out, clearly the investments are going in that direction and have far exceeded the government investments since 1997.”


  • “The United States’ unimpeded access to space is vital to national interests — the word vital’ meaning that we are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain that access.”


  • “For the war-fighter, virtually everything we do [makes use of space] — from intelligence to reconnaissance, surveillance to warning, to timing, getting over the target, to our precision guidance weapons that you saw so well used in Operation Allied Force to limit the collateral damage to put a single weapon on a single target, to the weather, to assessing the battle damage after the fight, to the communications, to the leased communications that we took from the civilian economy…and going even further to computer network defense and computer network attack, which uses a lot of space assets. These are all vital to the war fighter, as well as to our civilian economy. So space affects every one of us one way or another.”

  • Threats to U.S. Space Utilities


  • “Clearly…the evolving threat is coming along. You can see commercial imagery. The remote sensing is there. If you have access to the web, you can purchase it. As long as you have the money, you can get imagery of virtually any place in the world.”


  • “You could have threats to the space asset, the satellite itself, or the links, the up-link and down-link, or to the ground station, the ground opportunities. Clearly, you could have everywhere from a low power laser attack, to a medium, to a high power attack. So you can go anywhere from temporary denial, to disrupting for a short period of time, to degrading a sensor or a part of the satellite, to essentially destroying it.”


  • “Looking at the linkage, a lot of our linkages are unprotected and very fragile. One good example is the GPS signal….It doesn’t take a whole lot to jam that type of a signal. So, therefore, we are interested in doing things like modernizing our GPS systems…because it is such a key element to our war fighting capabilities, as well as to the Nation.”


  • Against the ground systems, this is where we probably are most vulnerable, because a lot of our ground stations are located overseas. So from the low tech end to the high tech end, to the commercial systems, they’re all tied to how well we do our job in both the national security, as well as our national economy.


  • “…There is no specific treaty prohibiting attacks on space systems, links or operations. A lot of people say that there are, but there are not. There are outer space treaties. The 1967 treaty bans orbital weapons of mass destruction, but not…for example, an ICBM coming through the atmosphere. It bans military presence in operations on celestial bodies, but not weapons in space.”

  • Protection of U.S. Space Utilities


  • So how do we protect our systems? Well, first of all, we break down space control into several basic areas. First is situational awareness. This is called space surveillance….You ought to know what’s out there, or if you’re flying in space, you ought to know what’s out there, what the bad guys are up to, what the good guys are up to, and what are all the things that can affect your systems. That’s called space surveillance.


  • The second one is prevention. That’s preventing the bad guys from getting at your valuable resources. Protection is the key piece that I’m talking about today, and that’s protecting your vital assets.


  • Then, finally, negation. As I mentioned earlier, negation can be anywhere from a very temporary denial to a degrade, all the way to a destroy.

  • Organizational Requirements


  • “At the national level, this country needs a national vision on space. We would offer that to perhaps go back to a National Space Council. Others might say a very strong interagency working group. But whatever it is, we need a very smart group of people at the very top that can direct civil, commercial, international, DOD and intelligence communities on exactly what this country wants to do.”


  • “We need a commitment to funding for space. If space is of that much importance for this country and for the world, it needs additional resources. We’ve talked earlier about how we’re trying to recapitalize the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and, clearly, of all the Air Force assets, I would ask you to name me one that we do not need today.”


  • Another thing we would recommend is a very strong space caucus in the Congress, just like you have an air power caucus, you have a naval power caucus. It seems to us very smart to have a space power caucus to focus on the key arguments that you would want us to face.”


  • “Moving down to the Pentagon level, we would offer to you a defense space council, headed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, as well as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and we would offer to you that they could bring in the DCI, to make sure we have “black” and “white” space matched correctly, we have proper vetting, at that level, and then that group could…be tied to the National Space Council.”


  • “We’re very concerned about the industrial base for radiation hard’ parts, a vanishing vendor, if you will….Right now, we are down to just a couple of vendors that produce these parts, these rad hard parts, and that is a policy issue that needs to be addressed….Critical infrastructure, like MILSTAR, we [Electro-Magnetic Pulse] EMP harden, we do that traditionally, but if you’re going to rely on commercial communications systems, what’s the rationale for not putting rad hard parts on those systems, other than there’s not a good business case? We need some kind of policy that states that.”

Threats to U.S. Equities in Space

The next section of the Roundtable amplified on the issue of emerging threats to American interests and assets in space. Under the ground-rules of this portion of the discussion, Dr. Gershwin spoke on a not-for-attribution basis. Accordingly, the following are presented as highlights of the exchanges that occurred during and after his remarks and those of Richard Fisher, not as verbatim quotes attributable to either lead discussant or the other participants.



  • Competitors and adversaries surely realize the degree to which access to space is critical to both U.S. economic and military power, and we will certainly make strides in countering U.S. space dominance over the next 15 years.


  • International commercialization of space will reduce the current U.S. edge in space support to both civil and military, and intelligence activities. Potential adversaries will continue to develop counter-space systems, pursue related technologies and expertise, and seek new techniques and tactics to reduce and counter U.S. space capabilities, with implications for both U.S. military and U.S. economic security.

  • Commercialization of Space


  • Commercial and civil space services will offer both developing countries and non-state adversaries access rivaling today’s major space powers in such areas as high resolution reconnaissance and weather prediction, global encrypted communications, and precise navigation. For example, foreign military platforms increasingly will incorporate GPS navigation receivers. When combined, such services will provide adversaries capabilities for precise targeting of U.S. or allied force deployments and global coordination of operations.


  • As higher resolution imagery becomes increasingly available on the global market for the next five years at least, foreign intelligence and military consumers will become more familiar with the utility of such high-resolution imagery, which, up until now, has been very much a U.S. unitary advantage. Such high-resolution imagery, for example, provides exploitable information on a range of military targets for which poorer resolution imagery does not. This is not just LANDSAT we’re talking about. This is really one-meter, good stuff.


  • Sales of U.S. one-meter commercial imagery probably has already sensitized foreign governments to the value of such imagery for military or intelligence missions. For example, U.S. vendors of IKONOS high resolution satellite imagery, recently announced a commercial alliance to provide the Turkish armed forces with high resolution imagery to support the Turkish military’s operational needs, and Turkey is one of just many countries that are taking advantage of the availability of commercial imagery for both military and intelligence needs.


  • Widespread availability of both meter and sub-meter resolution imagery eventually will erode U.S. space advantages by encouraging foreign efforts: first of all, to use commercial imagery for reconnaissance against U.S. and allied military forces, and against U.S. defense research and development; second, to increase investment in training foreign intelligence analysts to conduct detailed imagery analysis, something, again, which is today pretty much a unilateral U.S. advantage; and, third, to improve the denial and deception activity of foreign adversaries to hide or obscure their own critical targets and thwart U.S. and other reconnaissance.

  • Counter-Space


  • Our potential adversaries will understand U.S. strategic and economic dependence on our own access to space and will view counter-space operations as an important options for countering U.S. space superiority.


  • Over the next 15 years or so, a number of potential adversaries are likely to develop capabilities to disrupt, degrade, or defeat U.S. space assets, in particular, through denial and deception, anti-satellite technologies, such as electronic or cyber warfare, or with attacks against U.S. ground facilities.


  • Denial and deception is a problem that is growing as global awareness of U.S. intelligence capabilities improve. It is one of the least technologically demanding, yet often highly effective tools to counter U.S. space-based intelligence collection, as well as the U.S. military weapons targeting. Foreign countries are interested in or are already experimenting with a variety of technologies that could be used to develop counter-space capabilities. These efforts could result, for instance, in improved systems, such as, of particular concern, space object tracking, signal jamming, and directed energy weapons.


  • Countries lacking or wishing to augment advanced capabilities to attack satellites or data links could develop plans and capabilities to disrupt U.S. use of space by attacking our ground facilities that are supporting U.S. space operations, most likely using some sort of special operations forces.


  • Two countries [warranting] mention in particular are Russia and China. Russia inherited a variety of counter-space systems and R&D efforts from the Soviet Union and these were well documented in the 1980s, certainly when the Soviet Union was still around. Although economic programs almost certainly have curtailed their programs, Russia remains among the world’s most advanced and comprehensive — retains among the world’s most advanced and comprehensive counter-space capabilities, including the doctrine for its employment. They understand the idea.

  • China


  • China has an extensive space program of its own and is conscious of the importance of space dominance and could emerge over the next 15 years as a leading threat to U.S. space operations. China is making an enormous investment in space infrastructure and has several new space systems under development, including space launch vehicles, satellites, and manned space systems. Chinese military theorists have written a great deal about the U.S. use of space during the Gulf War, and China’s Air Force Academy recently increased the number of courses offered in space war theory.


  • Such things as space object surveillance and identification, jammers, low power lasers, are all in the business of being advertised widely in the open market. Such open availability and transfers have the potential to accelerate foreign system development and provide countries a rapid ramp-up in their counter-space abilities.


  • The threat is probably far more simple and far more elegant and may be far more imminent than we realize. [Examining] the broad scope of PLA modernization, the systems that they’re purchasing from the Russians, the capabilities that they are building themselves, the utter and total concentration on Taiwan and the degree to which they understand the taking of Taiwan would be, for them and for Asia, a major turning point in the global power balance.


  • What we can expect is a very quick war of decision that will combine space systems used to direct precision-guided missiles, cruise missiles, air-launched munitions against hundreds of targets on Taiwan for the purpose of either intimidating the leadership in Taipei, to back down and agree to unification, on Beijing’s terms, or, if they have to use these things, to utterly decimate the Taiwan force and within one or two days, at the most, well before the United States can even mobilize to come to any kind of rescue.

    And as part of that, if you take out enough of our satellite support network upon which our Asian forces depend, what will that tell the person in the White House about the inevitability of defeat and how much more will that complicate our response? And it’s not just the ASAT angle that would blind us and even further delay our response. It’s all the active systems that they’re working on, as well, to go after us and prevent our response. This could all come together well before the end of this decade.



  • China…understands space power and is rapidly developing both the infrastructure and wherewithal to challenge American current space information dominance. The Chinese understand very clearly how we used our own space power during the Gulf War, during Kosovo, and they understand that disruption of our space systems is utterly critical if they are to have any chance at all in prevailing in the conflict for which they are preparing; that is, the coming conflict over the future of Taiwan.


  • In 1998, Hantyen Satellite Corporation and Britain’s University of Surry Space Technologies signed a contract to co-develop micro satellites. Within two years, the first Chinese micro-satellite was launched.


  • The PLA is also…very concerned about being able to jam our satellites, as well as long developed the capabilities and techniques to try to hide what is important for them from overhead view.


  • In addition, the PRC is putting together its own ground-based global space tracking network. It has started operation of a space track facility on the island of Tarowa in the nation of Carabaos in the South Pacific. Just last week, we find out that a contract has been signed with Namibia, in Africa, to create another space tracking facility. They have space track capabilities on ships, but I expect that more nations, perhaps Brazil or France, Pakistan, will be joining their space track network in the future.


  • The other side of the developing Chinese space capability is their great efforts to use space on behalf of their own force, on behalf of their own national economic and military objectives. In August…Xinhua announced that China will be putting up an eight satellite imaging constellation for electro-optical 4 radar satellites. This will give the future commander of the Taiwan campaign a twice revisit capability. The PLA already has access to communication satellites and is developing satellite communication vehicles, one of which was revealed at the last Zhuhai show to support missile units.


  • On Halloween day, China launched its first navigation satellite, the BAIDO. Navigation satellites, their own access to GLONASS, access to GPS, in combination with their new imaging network will be used to provide precision targeting to the hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles that they’re building now and targeting on Taiwan, future land-attack cruise missiles, and even to target American forces in Asia.


  • Foreign technology is critical to China’s continued progress in space. Russian technology pervades their program. In terms of potential future space warfare activities, access to Russian technology, both ASAT and laser programs are probably already providing the PRC with the shortcuts that they are looking for to build their capability.


  • A nightmare scenario that some of us have looked at is if you had a case where it was a crisis over Taiwan or Korea, where we were prepared to deploy, the usual strategy today would be a couple aircraft carrier battle groups and air expeditionary forces….you might be confronted with a very rapid Chinese ability to sort of co-orbit with a number of our critical communications and military support satellites, of which there are not terribly many of them, and very suddenly take those out, either temporarily or permanently. That would pretty well devastate our ability to deploy forces.


  • As we look to the future, what really seems to be the significant approach, when we look at it from an operational standpoint, is the ability to do sorties, whether it’s a radar system that we’re talking about in the future or even a weapon. Weapons for space control or even force application, if we move in that direction, will be far more acceptable if they’re not placed in space permanently, but they are something that you can sortie the capability to do space control, whether it’s offensive or defensive, or sortie the capability to do force application. Manned fighters and bombers would be a lot less acceptable if our strategy was that we sort of keep them up permanently on the borders of a potential adversary, and we don’t do that.


  • There are unclassified papers that the Chinese have published about reusable launch vehicles beyond space plane… of two-stage-to-orbit and fully reusable launch vehicles, and the diagrams of the mission profile are 100 percent similar to the Kissler airbag/parachute-recovery concept of operations. With this sort of reusable launch vehicle capability, they would have a far more robust ASAT or surface-to-surface missile architecture, because you would recover the vehicle like an airplane and put it back together and launch it again.


  • China’s activities in space, they are asymmetric, as we call it, response, is a form of warfare that they’ve been at for 3,000 years. So to them it seems very natural and space is just one other component. How do you take out a big bully who’s got a lot of iron on target and who’s got a lot of military capabilities? Well, from their response, which has been much like water flowing, is take the path of least resistance in the way of stopping that type of projection. And their information activities, their activities in information operations are one very strong component, part of their space program…[aimed at] seeing how they can try and nullify U.S. advantages in their arena.

Roger Robinson, Chairman, William J. Casey Institute of the Center for Security Policy concluded this section of the discussion with several important points on the record:



  • “An emerging dimension of China’s ability to militarize space and challenge our assets there is that of finance or the funding side. We have been looking at China in this regard — that is, the national security dimensions of their use of our capital markets, our and bond markets, over the past four years, in what we call a capital markets transparency initiative, and have come up with some troubling findings. There are firms, state-owned firms, in particular, that are very close to the Chinese PLA, as well as their military intelligence capability, that are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in our markets.


  • “Hundreds of thousands of Americans are unwittingly engaged in this process. The People’s Republic of China, in its own name — no cut-outs, no subterfuge, just the government itself — has thus far borrowed $4.2 billion on our bond market. No questions asked as to where the money is going or how it’s being used; no discipline, no stated purpose for the use of funds. And we can be fairly confident that, at minimum, there is an indirect link with many of the programs that [have been discussed today, particularly their more advanced systems, and I would guess their space-based systems, as well, or those that they are aspiring to acquire.”


  • “We have keeping close tabs on this and we found that it’s escalating at an alarming rate. China has attracted totally about 25 billion in our markets thus far, with, again, never a question asked about any of the firms, no vetting for national security concerns, human rights, not to mention human rights and other concerns.”


  • “But even our core security interests have been ignored by all of the underwriters and the purchasers of these instruments, who normally would engage in more comprehensive due diligence, but national security has never been part of that mix.


  • “There is a cavalcade of literally hundreds of Chinese state-owned companies, many of the wrong sorts, from our point of view — or the parent company, affiliates and subsidiaries are certainly the wrong sorts — are planning to, in effect, fund programs of the type described from unwitting U.S. investors, and I would argue that they can’t live without our capital markets.”

U.S. Space Power Policy versus U.S. Space Power Capabilities

The Roundtable next focused on what systems and organization the United States required in order for it to exercise space power. This section was led by Dr. Marty Faga, who served as a member of the Defense Science Board’s recent Task Force on Space. Dr. Faga summarized some of the Task Force’s most important recommendations:



  • “[Defense Science Board (DSB) task force on space] observed that we possess space superiority today and noted that DOD defines superiority as that degree of dominance in space of one force over another, which permits the conduct of operations by the former, and its related land, sea and air forces at a given time and place, without prohibitive interference by the opposing force.”


  • We see our advantage lessening, not just for what we may be failing to do, but for what others are doing; that is, potential adversaries are gaining understanding and they are attempting to gain capability. They are attempting to acquire systems that would disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy U.S. systems, and budget limits on our side are hampering U.S. modernization and introduction of new space concepts.”


  • “There is exploitation of our systems by people who can freely use GPS for whatever purpose they may choose. Adversaries are gaining access to the use of space through their own systems. They may be able to attack our ground facilities and infrastructure. They could in the future make attacks directly on satellites, perhaps, and a failure to react to these specifically in the budget and the modernization programs will obviously affect our ability to respond.”


  • “We suggested several courses that ought to be taken: 1) a protective course that would implement defense of space control capabilities that ensure that U.S. space systems perform as we plan for them to; 2) a preventative course to implement offensive space control to preclude an adversary from using U.S. or other space systems for their purposes; and 3) a modernization and new initiative course to pursue modernization, better access to space, and more effective capabilities.”


  • “A few of the key observations that we made were: U.S. policy states that access and use of space is central to U.S. national security interests and interference is viewed as an infringement on sovereign rights. The task force thinks that superiority depends largely on the deterrent value of protection and that we need to demonstrate an ability to respond, along with political, legal and economic needs, but to demonstrate the ability to apply force, if it were necessary. The U.S. should declare that it will take all appropriate self-defense measures and it would defend against use of space hostile to U.S. national security interest. We observed that there is no reasonably foreseeable threat in space against satellites, but that many nations could impinge on individual systems by terrorism, by electronic attack, and other means.”


  • “We recommended a strategy of space systems inherently designed to counter near-term attack through redundancy and robustness and hedge programs to apply within the lead time of intelligence warning to counter longer-term threats.”

Dr. Faga was followed by Amb. Henry Cooper, former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization and former Chief Negotiator at the U.S.-Soviet Defense and Space Talks in Geneva. The following were among the main points made by Dr. Cooper in discussing the impediments to U.S. space power:



  • In 1983, Frank [Gaffney] and I worked together on a space policy report, which was in response to an amendment [by then-Senator Paul Tsongas]. Congress, at that time, demanded that we halt the testing of the F-15 ASAT until we were prepared to enter negotiations on a comprehensive ban of all anti-satellite testing and deployment. It was our objective to go through and explain why this was not a good idea and, of course, reverse the constraint that Congress had imposed. We made the case and…the test went off very well, I believe it was in 84, against a non-cooperative target.


  • But no good deed goes unpunished. Congress killed the program anyway. Now we have a reverse situation, where at least some in Congress want to build a kinetic energy ASAT, as Senator Smith told us this morning. He’s a principal lead in it, and it’s the Administration that is not pursuing that diligently.


  • In any case, I would just point out that in spite of all this, the space technologies matured most rapidly out of the SDI program. In the latter days of the Reagan Administration in 1988, the President vetoed the authorization bill, basically because it was putting a cap on how we could spend resources on space-based interceptors.


  • It’s interesting to me that the most explicit discussion so far today of the successor technologies to those that were leading technologies in the SDI program are being pursued by Surry and the Chinese, not by the Pentagon and certainly not by the Air Force, to my knowledge, unless it’s a deep, dark ” black” program. And I think this is evidence, again, of the prejudice that exists within the community against the SDI efforts of Ronald Reagan. Unfortunate, but I believe it’s true.


  • Why do we have this great political headwind that I am describing to you? I believe that it was at least heavily influenced by what I [call] the collective guilt complex of at least an influential segment of the scientific community that had been associated with the Manhattan Project and was, for sure, not going to permit the technology cutting edge in the United States [to]have such an event again. In 1946, Oppenheimer referred to it by saying “The physicists have known sin,” and this propagated.”


  • “I think we have to figure out how to reorganize the Federal bureaucracy that deals with space to rectify the dysfunctional arrangements, which I believe were deliberately put into play in the 1950s. I don’t think these things just happened. I think that they were part of a reasoned approach to the problem. And we have to build the best systems we can, of course, and somehow or other, we’ve got to get free of a lot of these trappings of the arms control history that Gen. Arnold mentioned earlier that constrain our ability to move ahead today. Otherwise, I’m afraid we’ll get the Pearl Harbor that President Eisenhower [had worried about in the 1950s].

A highlight of the discussion that followed were remarks by Christopher Lay, a Senior Analyst at SAIC and long-time member of the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Advisory Council:



  • “Just having a reusable, whether single-stage-to-orbit or whatever kind of space launch vehicle, that’s only part of the answer. [You are still in trouble] if you have that system and you remain reliant only on the two existing launch facilities in Florida and California, both of which I think anybody would agree are highly vulnerable to a dedicated effort to cripple them or take them out, we haven’t solved the problem. We need to really think seriously about a variety of alternative launch facilities and, also, a launch infrastructure that’s really more suited to so-called launch-on- demand, which the Air Force has talked about at various times as a future requirement.


  • “What that means, and it has to do with the way payloads are integrated on launch vehicles, the way satellites are designed and built or whatever you’re going to put in space, but it’s really what I call a launch infrastructure issue — geography, location, alternative means, maybe some air- launch capability, maybe even a sea-launch via submarine, whatever. But this issue of kind of being confined to these two, admittedly, very grand facilities, but if a cruise missile or even something more simple than that were directed in the right place, at the Kennedy Space Center or at Vandenberg, we’re really in trouble. We can’t reconstitute.”

Dr. Schlesinger on the Importance of Space Power

During a working lunch, Dr. James Schlesinger offered remarks on the importance of the United States continuing to exercise dominance in space. He argued that the vulnerability of U.S. space assets would jeopardize not only the United States’ ability to prosecute wars, but it could also undercut public support for American foreign policy in general:



  • “The United States, at this time, is not just any other country in the United Nations. It is the one to whom others in trouble turn, hoping that we will pull their chestnuts out of the fire, and we have been doing that with some frequency.”


  • “[Even as there has been] this growth of the American role in the world, the public has basically tuned out with respect to foreign policy. In the old days, there was the Soviet threat out there — a single permanent foe, well-equipped militarily and ideologically abhorrent to the American people — on which the public could focus.”

    “So [today] we have a public that’s turned off and, at the same time, the responsibilities that have either been thrust upon us or we have seized have grown immeasurably, and the consequence of that is that in order to continue the foreign policy role that we have taken on, we are going to have to avoid what the public wishes desperately to avoid — and that is casualties.”



  • “The public is willing to tolerate the foreign policy established by our governing elites only so long as casualties remain low. And what permits us to fulfill this role, quite simply, is our space capabilities. Without those space capabilities, we could not fulfill the international role that we have while keeping casualties low.”


  • “Our position depends upon space, space sensors, space communications, space intelligence, and, also, guiding our weapons accurately from space.”


  • “All of this is a marvelous achievement, but it creates for us a potential vulnerability and that is if we are somehow or other cut off or our ability to utilize space is reduced, we are going to be engaged around the world in ways that the U.S. public will not particularly tolerate, in that we are likely to come home with large numbers of bodies in bags. The consequence is that the public will be turned off. So our international role might come crashing down. And the moral of the story is that we have to protect the usage of space.”


  • “There has been some discussion…of ballistic missile defense and we have at least a hypothetical program to begin to deploy interceptors at some point during the decade ahead in Alaska. But one should recall that the deployment in Alaska is only a first stage, dealing with a relatively primitive foe, and that others will discover ways or develop ways of circumventing that deployment, unless we continue to upgrade it. And one of the things that will be essential for upgrading any ballistic missile defense will be the use of space and, most notably, space sensors.”


  • “Finally, let me throw out that war games that I have participated in start with somebody firing a launcher up into space with a nuclear weapon aboard, and nuclear weapon technology is spreading slowly, happily, but slowly spreading around the world, and that the weapon in space will, over time, if not instantly, degrade our space assets. So over time, we are going to have to learn to protect those assets better against such possibilities. Part of the protection is hardening, part of the protection is redundancy, and part of the protection should be reconstitution of space capabilities.”


  • Those who are interested in asymmetrical attacks are particularly interested in those capabilities, freely or at low cost, available from space that might inflict damage on us; for example, guiding a weapon onto a U.S. military base overseas during a moment of crisis. A particularly juicy target, of course, is the Global Positioning System itself, which has a very weak, very weak signal, and that signal must be upgraded in strength. At the present time, that signal can be jammed very readily and the Russians, whom we have encouraged to learn free market ways, now have on the free market a commercial jammer that you can purchase. This would have devastating effects since our whole civilian economy has gone over to use of GPS.


  • “Some years ago, in an exercise called “Eligible Receiver,” the National Security Administration (NSA) demonstrated that they could turn off all of the power on the east coast simply by information warfare, not by jamming…, but by information warfare and breaking into the computers that control the flow of power on the East Coast, or they could have done it in the Midwest or even in Texas, which has a separate system, or on the West Coast, which has had two power blackouts over the course of recent years. Now, those of you in this room who…remember the 1967 blackout in New York City may recall the panic that ensued at the time of that blackout. So I ask you, in a moment of crisis, if somebody is able to turn off power on the East Coast or the West Coast or generally nationwide, what the response would be of the American public?”


  • “One must recognize that the Internet, that the financial community, all of these things are dependent upon the signals from space, and that creates the vulnerabilities and it is for that reason that we must convey to the Congress and to the general public, through the medium, regrettably, of the media, the high degree of dependency and get support for keeping us well out in front by the techniques of hardening, protection, reconstitution of our own capabilities, and being able to cut off others from employing those assets from space to do damage to the interest of the United States, particularly our bases overseas.


  • “One of our problems in the civilian area is that when you go out and talk to industry, they don’t trust the government. And when you talk to the people in the financial community about sharing information, the response is, yes, but we don’t want it to be shared with the FBI or we don’t want it to be shared with the IRS. And so we’re going to have to develop a technique in which people in the private sector repose sufficient faith that they are willing to discuss the problems that are emerging with regard to hacker attacks. If you can’t deal with hacker attacks, you’re not going to deal with the attacks of some hostile power overseas. That mutual distrust is something that will have to be overcome if we are going to be able to help on the civilian side.”


  • “Another problem that we have is that as the people in the civilian community tend to think about information warfare as attacking their own firms or their own corporate world, and that the consequence is that they will be the victims of fraud. When you think about the larger possibilities of a massive information warfare attack, they say, well, that’s the responsibility of the government to solve.”


  • Unless we are able to slow down the combination of capabilities that permit others to attack our bases overseas, a U.S. military establishment that is dependent upon overseas bases is somewhat vulnerable. You think of major engagements of the United States and the dependency upon a string of bases, say, off the coast of East Asia, that is quite worrisome, and we ought to be thinking now of ways of getting around that problem.”


  • “It is not just the national enemies that are taking advantage of these new technologies. I suppose I should have mentioned that earlier. But the criminal activities around the world, you can use the GPS system to drop — from aircraft, drop drugs off our shores at a specified point and that through GPS guidance, we get a motor launch that comes out from shore and picks up those drugs and so forth.”


  • I think we are going to have to look increasingly at anti-satellite vehicles. We are going to have to look at a whole range of things that, for reasons of the hopeful arms controllers, we have been reluctant to look at in the past. That was a reflection of the fact that others were having — were achieving access to these technologies more slowly than one might have feared, but that era is passing.”

Organizing for Space Power

The final portion of the Roundtable involved a very animated discussion led by the former Commander of U.S. Space Command, Gen. Charles Horner. Among the most stimulating of Gen. Horner’s remarks were the following:



  • “The commercial space advantages we have are probably 99 percent based upon research and development that’s done for military space, national security space, panels, gyros, materials, launch vehicles.”


  • “I think one of the major problems we face with regard to national security space is the vulnerability of our technology base — the industrial support of space. R&D is drying up. Private companies are using their own initiative money to bid proposals, because business has gotten so hard that it doesn’t make any sense to do R&D when you don’t know whether you’re going to be in business the next year or not. And, also, there’s a constant problem with regard to attracting new, young, bright people to the space sector. Now they go to the dot-coms, as I understand it.”


  • “We saw that just recently in the Discoverer-2 [space-based radar] program. Now, you can get any kind of answer you want as to why Discoverer-2 failed or was canceled, but one of them was not military utility and another one was not technical capability. So its failure is evidence of dysfunctional relationships, in my view.”


  • “I [have] called for a space architect. I was very frustrated trying to build a unified command, integrated program list, priority list, to say these are the things that representing all the other unified commanders, this is what we want to see space go after.”


  • “It’s interesting that in the relationship between the Department of Defense and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that cooperation is fundamental and vital to smooth working relationships between the national security space agencies. And I would challenge you to point to the meetings that have occurred in the recent years and the agendas that were discussed in those meetings. I am not aware of any.”


  • We need more public awareness and discussion. I went before the Senate Armed Services Committee and I said — I was, at the time, the Commander of Space Command, and I said that my experience in the desert, in Desert Storm, was that space had become fundamental to warfare, particularly the way we like to fight wars, and that as space became more important to warfare, space control would become more important to warfare, at which time one Senator attacked me, which didn’t bother me, but said You just want to shoot down a satellite.’

    “I said, No, sir, I didn’t say that, but if people are dying on the battlefield, we’ll have to know what to do and how to do it and get on with it.’ And finally he was brought under control by John McCain, who is a dear friend, and so we got all done and everything. That Senator is now the Secretary of Defense and he’s talking about space control. So I guess what goes around comes around.”



  • With regard to the relationship between the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the Pentagon — we’re primarily talking Air Force space. I think we have to have a coming together there. We have a lot of very talented people in the NRO and they have a history of doing some very exciting things in space. You would hope you would be able to transfer that into the Air Force space, bring our cultures together, so that you could take advantage of what the NRO has in terms of streamlined acquisition procedures, and so on and so forth, and make them work together.”


  • “There is no doubt, in my mind, we are going to have to do space control in the future, and so we ought to be honest and open about it in order to both build deterrents, because if you keep everything in the dark, there’s no deterrence, and, also, to get the American public aware of this.”


  • “I think we have to come to grips with ballistic missile defense in space. It’s going to happen. There are some impediments and treaties and the treaties and arms control things cause us a lot of problems in space. Frank [Gaffney] mentioned the one about launch notification. In and of itself, probably not a bad thing, but the trouble is it even goes to the point where, in the future, if you launch an air-to-air missile, you want to shoot down a MIG, you have to give the Russians 24 hours notice, under some interpretations of this particular treaty, and, of course, we find that ridiculous.”


  • “With regard to research and development, I think that there is a general awareness that we must increase our research and development funds across the military, and certainly space is one area where they have a lot of leverage.”


  • “The space warriors of a decade or so from now are not going to be necessarily the people that have grown up in space today, because there is a different mind set from — and if anything, I mean, one of the things that I think the fighter pilot mind-set is probably a little closer to where we need to go than the space geek mind set.”


  • “We need to have space people who understand what other people are doing to make their efforts integrate, to make their efforts of most use. But I think the other issue, the one we’re arguing, is we need people in space to provide leadership in space to promote space doctrine, not doctrine that uses space, and, of course, that’s the one that people hope that a space service would solve. Just like the Air Force cannot be ignorant of how the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy think, and now that the Navy no longer is out there in the middle of the Atlantic or Pacific, they can no longer be ignorant of how the Air Force and the Army think, and the Marine Corps. So yes, there has to be an integration there, but we also have to create people who are different.

  • Discussion


  • “If we had a clear understanding of what the post-Cold War world is, what the policies are, we could devise strategy, which would then lead to forces, and that’s probably what we need to do with the new leadership coming into the White House….That would help with a lot of these issues. Then we’d know how much allocation of funds we need to put on space.

    “If you just leave it up to the Air Force, you get a third of the defense budget to do whatever you want to with it, it’s got to trade off B-2 against Discover-2. They’re not equipped to make that decision.”



  • “Quibbling over who supplies the money is kind of irrelevant to me. The issue is we have to make a national commitment, I think, in the future to say that we have a opportunity, and I think most of the people here seem to have agreed that we can have a space dominant strategy in the decades ahead, but we’re not going to get there unless we take some number of years, maybe it’s five, maybe it’s ten — it’s certainly not more than ten — and do things.”


  • “We’re going to have to take some chances here on research and development. This isn’t to deploy these things, but to go out and demonstrate them. I mean, they never did the question mark thing if they didn’t have an airplane. They had to cut a hole in an airplane. So somebody had to buy them an airplane.

    “So I think in order to do these things in space, somebody’s going to have to buy us the necessary prototypes to go demonstrate that we can do it and if we don’t do this, all this is moot.”



  • “The Chinese things we saw earlier today, about two years ago, they offered those — the University of Surrey, they offered them to us to finance them and go do these things so they could sell the capability. For various reasons, we chose not to do that. So now you see them on Chinese boosters. So there is a point of seizing the day when you have an opportunity to do it. This was an opportunity to get some foreign technology and have it here, and it’s relatively small money. That micro-sat or nano-sat that they showed earlier, that cost about 700,000 dollars, and that technology is now someplace we don’t want it. In the future, we need to be proactive on these kind of things.”


  • “When you get a corporation to extend itself out to the design capability and is just about ready go on contract, and we say, Oops, we’re sorry, we don’t want to buy that anyway,’ they have already gone through that and they’ve invested a whole bunch of infrastructure, all the way maybe to developing a set of jigs to go build this item and then we turn around and change the whole course of the way they’re going.

    “So if you look at recent articles on Fortune magazine talking about industrial base unwillingness to invest in military projects because of the uncertainty out there, so we’ve got to be able to strengthen that to the point where we say we’re on board with you, we want you to go develop radiation hard parts, because we’re going to procure X thousands. And then they can see there’s a business case there. They can go out and get the backing for that and they can make that investment and they go off and do that.

    “But right now, it’s tenuous, at best, and we’ve got to be able to stake it, right now, in ’05, I’m going to buy X millions of these parts and do these kinds of things, and then they will go out and do that. Otherwise, they’re going to turn their attention to places where they can make money.”


While no effort was made to forge a consensus on the part of the participants in the High-Level Roundtable, the sentiment among the experts, scientists, military personnel and others present seemed to be that the United States can no longer afford to ignore the growing capability of potential adversaries to exploit the vulnerability arising from the dependence of both America’s military and civilian economy on unencumbered access to and use of outer space. There appeared to be a nearly universally shared hope, moreover, that the Rumsfeld II Commission will catalyze fresh thinking on the part of the new Bush-Cheney Administration about the need for space power — and give rise to an urgent, reorganized, disciplined and far more energetic effort to obtain and exercise it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *