Defense Official Discusses the Pentagon’s Defense Space Strategy

Stephen L. Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, takes questions from reporters in the Pentagon to discuss the Defense Department’s space strategy, June 17, 2020. Kitay is responsible for establishing policy and guidance to assure the U.S. and allied warfighters the benefits of space capabilities and to help guide strategy for addressing space-related issues. He also leads Department of Defense activities in international space cooperation.

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So. Ladies, gentlemen, thank you for joining us today. My lieutenant Colonel, your eye or lean on, uh, with us today is the deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for space Policy, Steve Pate. And he’ll be speaking to us today about the new defense space strategy on. Then we’ll open it up for your questions. Does he could take thank you. I’m honored to be here with you all today to discuss our new defense space strategy. It’s an extremely exciting and important time for a nation space program. I imagine many of you watch the recent NASA launch of a Space X rocket sending American astronauts to space from American soil for the first time in almost a decade. And for the first time in a commercial rocket, I sat with my wife and my nine year old sign and six year old daughter on that beautiful Saturday afternoon, and we collectively held our breath as the rocket counted down the final 10 seconds. As I’m sure many people across the nation and the globe did the same. These moments are amazing, capturing the attention and imagination of people around the world. However, beyond these moments, what people may not realize is how dependent we are on space. Space is used for a day to day life not only as we navigate in our cars, but for a global economy as well as our nation’s security. So why should Americans care about space? Because they depend on it. Not only do they depend on it, international peace and security depends on it. Our nation’s soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines depend on it now. I wish I could say that space was a sea of tranquility in the sanctuary from attack. But the fact of the matter is, space is contested. Outer space has emerged as a key arena, a potential conflict in an era of great power competition. China and Russia have weaponized spaced and turned it into a war fighting dummy. Their actions pose the greatest strategic threat with the on going development, testing and deployment of counter space systems and the associated military doctrine designed to hold the Allied and U. S. Space systems at risk. But while there may be challenges in space, we also have unprecedented opportunities. We’re in a moment of historic reform, with tremendous visionary leaders in place from the president to the vice president to the secretary of defense. In a bipartisan congress that has supported or National Security Space program, we have stood up the United States Space Force as a new branch of the armed forces. The United States Space Command has a new combatant command and undertaken significant acquisition reforms, including the establishment of the Space Development Agency to accelerate the development and delivery of capabilities to our war fighters. I see this progress as gears of a powerful machine clicking into place. And very importantly, I’d like to highlight that we are not alone in our endeavors. Our space capable allies and partners as well as a growing and innovative space industry offer tremendous opportunities for cooperation. So what is our strategy? The defense space strategy defines the strategic environment and the critical moment that were at and in turn identifies the ends were trying to achieve the ways were the ways we’re going to achieve them and the means to do so. With strategy is about ends, ways and means. The defense space strategy is designed to serve as the road map to advance our nation’s military space power by guiding the most significant transformation in the history of the National Security Space Program. This is an enterprise wide transformation from approaching space as a support function. Two. Approaching space as a war fighting domain in which we’re postured to compete, to turn and win the defense space strategy provides strategic direction for department wide changes to policies, doctrine, capabilities, operations and partnerships to ensure US space superiority to secure nation’s vital interest in space or desired conditions are a secure, stable and accessible space. Don’t mean the strategy outlines the following key strategic objectives for the department first maintained space superiority. The D. O. D. Will preserve freedom of operations in the domain, and we won’t be prepared to protect and defend our interests from the hostile use of space. Second provides space support to national, joint and combined operations. We use space to improve life here on Earth and the D. O. D will continue to provide critical space capabilities to the joint and combined force. Third, ensure space superior stability. Our focus is to deter aggression and to maintain a safe and sustainable space a moment. The D. O. D. Will be a good steward of the domain. We will achieve these objectives through a phased approach, moving with purpose and speed across four lines of effort, build, integrate, shape and cooperate. Line of effort one. Built. Build a comprehensive military advantage in space. We will build out the space force developing the doctrine, expertise, culture and capabilities needed to outpace future threats. This includes building space intelligence and command and control line of effort to integrate, integrate military space power into national joint fine operations. U. S Space Command has a lead role here in ensuring space powers integrated with all forms of military power and that we have been necessary planning exercises and authorities in place to protect an offender nation’s interest. Line of effort. Three. Shape. Shape the strategic environment as we work to deter those to attack us in space. We want to enhance stability in the domain. We have to work internationally to develop standards of behaviour of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable actions. Line of effort for cooperate, cooperate with allies, partners, industry and other U. S. Government departments and agencies. Partnerships are key to the success of a strategic approach, in summary that the defense space strategy lays out a path that embraces space as a unique domain of national military power and together with other domains, underpins joint and combined operations to advance national security. The unclassified summary of the strategy is provided. In fact, sheets are online, and we’ll be working with our closest allies and partners in front their classified elements. Thank you for your time today, and I’m happy to address any questions. Okay, let’s start with Sylvie. With AP, They have peace. Hello, Thank you. I have a question about the Allies. I Aren’t you concerned that your quest to cooperate with allies in space could be Joep arised by President Trump’s wheel to withdraw from many important international disarmament treaties? Well, what I’d say from ah lines perspective is our allies have had strong interest in cooperating with the United States and space. And what’s interesting is there at a similar moment, as we are at in space, where there’s a recognition of the criticality of the domain, as well as the threats that were facing. So they’re looking to enhance those partnerships. For instance, NATO recently declared space and operational domain. They’re recognizing the threats to our interests. We’re also working in what we call the Combined Space Operations Initiative see spoke, and this is a partnership that we have with our five eyes. Nations, which is an intelligence partnership which includes the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand in France and Germany, have recently come on board with C spoke So So I would say that the opportunities for partnership are high. We’re getting a strong demand signal from them. We’re working with a number of other countries, such as Japan, on their efforts, and we look forward to deepening that cooperation. But I want to concern that there can be a difference in the finding a norms of behaviour. One example in space. Um, I would say it in my experience, often with any group of people, whether it’s in the department, in the interagency internationally, people have different perspectives, and the important element is you work through them. You have conversations. So in defining norms of responsible behavior in space, there have been various activities that go on an international for of, for instance, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, where there was recently agreement on long term sustainability guidelines. Um, and then there’s other efforts than below that where we’re working closely with our allies and then here in the building and with the interagency to build upon the work that’s been done on norms of responsible behavior in space. So I wouldn’t say that it’s gonna be without disagreement, but I am confident that we are going to be able to make progress in this area. This is something that happens in every other domain, and we’ve been able to figure it out, and I think in space will be able to do the same. Thank you. We’ll go to David Martin in the room. This, uh, factory says China and Russia have weaponized space. Who, exactly how it happened. Eso Thank you for that question. I refer you to two reports that were put out there by the intelligence community early last year. The D I. A. Report. Challenges to Security and Space says that China and Russia are developing jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons on orbit capabilities and ground based anti satellite missiles that can achieve a range of reversible and irreversible effects that this document, the D. I A report as well as the unclassified knee sick report competing in space taken together have over 60 pages of information on threats including capabilities, doctrine and organizations. And these documents will tell you that China and Russia are developing and planning to use capabilities that threaten our space systems in those of our allies now. Since last year, when those were put out early last year, um, China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on orbit activities which pose unprecedented new dangers to US and allied space systems. Earlier this year, General Raymond highlighted the concerning behavior of two new Russian satellites which fair, distinct similarities to other Russian satellites that launched a high speed projectile in 2017. Also consistent with the guidance in the defense space strategy is to inform the public in the international community about these threats, and we’re continuing to regularly review the information so we can share mawr about Chinese and Russian space activities to enable that more fulsome conversation on their weaponization of space. Just, uh, according from those documents from General Raymond, did you just say that China and Russia have put weapons in space? I said what I said, quoting from the intelligence community, as well as when State Department talked about the activities in 2017. They highlighted in 2018 and it is clear that they have weaponized space. You said that a Russian satellite had fired a high speed in 2017. What happened? What was discussed. And this is all in the public record that State Department actually brought up in the United Nations. There was an assistant secretary who spoke about it. Then there was a main satellite out of that satellite Russian satellite. A smaller satellite was birthed from that mean satellite. From that smaller satellite, a projectile was launched from that Russian satellite. So 1/3 item came out. They said that this was an inspector satellite. What the State Department official noted at that time is the behavior of that satellite looked nothing like an inspector satellite and looked like something much more concerned. Said that they said the satellite that fired the high, high speed projectile was an inspector satellite. What was the project? So the projectile was some object in space that did was was launched from the You have the mean one than the 2nd 1 came out of it. And then out of the 2nd 1 the projectile came out of it. That went into space and has not been moving since it went out and fired and has not been maneuvering or or giving any indication of what you would think an inspector satellite would look like. Third object 3rd 1 of the best. That’s exactly, um, I don’t know if they specified the whole system or down to the 3rd 1 They have to go back and look at that. But But I believe they were calling that an inspector system. But that system, with these three objects that came out of it, certainly did not look like it in what General Riemann highlighted earlier this year, is a system that looks just like that one, Um, is they had the main one, and then they have the 2nd 1 and what was different and what he highlighted earlier this year is they were then doing testing near a U. S. Government satellite. It hadn’t nothing came out of it. Further. It’s unclear if if something will or what they’re doing. But he was concerned with that activity, and he talked about it publicly, and there were also bilateral discussions with the Russians on that just to be clear so that What? That this 2nd 1 you’re talking about operated close to it. Yes, us. That’s another Bain satellite. Yes, without a smaller satellite cracked, which yet put out that third object. Absolutely correct. But it was near a U. S. Government satellite, and that was of concern. The phone lines were quick. Sandra Irwin Irwin with space news. Thank you very much, Mr Today. Thank you for doing this briefing I wanted to ask you about. The resource is in BOT to accomplish the strategy. Do you envision that this is going to be done within existing resources, or will you be asking for additional resources? And have you had conversations with the air Force on the space Force on their budget priorities toe to align with a strategy? Thank you. Um, so, uh, so the f y 21 budget, which is now up on the hill. Um uh, and being debated in the department. Already proposed. Had $18 billion for the department space program, not including the National Reconnaissance Office. Um, about 15. 16 billion of that was within the United States Space Force. That was a very significant budget. Tuffelli resource. The Space Force. I can’t speak to the F Y 22 budget yet, but we are in deliberations on that budget right now within the Department of Defense. And how that process works is the space Force brings that proposal of what they think the necessary funding should be. And, as you stated to include funding the execution of this strategy on, they bring into the department the Air Force, the department, the Air Force reviews it and brings it to the secretary of defense, of which the Office of the Secretary of Defense reviews it and provides feedback. And the secretary of Defense then sends it to the president in Office of Management and Budget reviews it before it’s sent to Capitol Hill, which will all lead upto next February. Okay, we’ll come back in the room. Teoh, just ogle. Thank you. Um, on page 10 of the space strategy, there was a diagram that said, um, counter space continual. Who, at the very end, it said nuclear detonation in space. And I’m wondering if you can clarify who with detonate a nuclear weapon in space and why. Yeah, So, um, so that shorthand is called new debt. Nuclear detection, detection, detonation, nuclear detonation in space, and we do have capabilities called new debt, which detect those sorts of events. In fact, we have those sorts of detection systems on satellites in space today. That has been a concern, actually, in a threat, going back to even the Cold War and the challenge of a nuclear detonation is it creates an electromagnetic pulse and a signal that then could take out indiscriminately. Many satellites in space on essentially fried the electron ICS. So that is a very serious threat. Um, and we, uh, ensure that we’re prepared for it now that that goes on a continuum of of a range of threats that we have to be prepared for potential adversaries to employ. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any satellites are hardened or protected against this kind of GNP. So what can you realistically do? So I’m not gonna get into the details of it, But we do have systems that are assured toe various threats to include the necessary hardening against threats such as this. And if you look at our space, our overall space constellations, we have a variety of systems that range from nuclear command and control and missile warning capabilities that we are going to need to assure those capabilities all the way from peace timeto low in conflict all the way through potentially a nuclear conflict. There’s other systems that that we would accept some sort of degraded service, depending on the needs of the warfighter. So it all comes down toe warfighter requirements to meet the mission through the various conflict. Face of conflict to say, the United States is concerned that Russia, China, North Korea or Iran could detonate a nuclear weapon in space that would blind its satellites. That is a threat that we have to potentially be prepared for is a nuclear detonation in space. After the phone line go Teoh Abraham mashing with Washington Examiner Yes, thank you for taking my question. So you’ve mentioned a little bit about, Of course, China and Russia weaponizing space and you talk about hardening satellites. But what about our own weapons in space? Can you comment at all of what we currently have and what we are working on? Thank you. So I’m not going to speak to specific systems year today, but our policy and strategy recognizes the multitude of anti satellite developments of our competitors. And we emphasize space mission assurance and resilience, deterring aggression against against the United States to include against our space systems and those of our allies and partners. And, uh, and the capability were fighting capability to protect and defend our vital interests. The United States is addressing its security needs consistent with its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and other relevant international and national law. And with China and Russia both actively developing capabilities to negate us, allied and partner space systems were left with no choice but to ensure we are prepared with the necessary means to protect and defend ourselves from attacks to our systems, whether they be in space, on the ground or any other domain. Okay, we’ll stay on the phone lines for one more with Tony compassion with Bloomberg. Such technologies for the future. Sorry, was that Tony? No. Go ahead, Tony, Can I get a question or you? Yeah. I want to follow up on this one. The United States is developing the metal lands counter jamming system. They want to buy, like, 48 of them over the next six years. Where this this system play in terms of the strategy. Is this an example of developing systems to deny the hostile use of space? So I’m not going to speak Teoh specific systems, but line of effort one speaks toe building a comprehensive military advantage in space. And one of the key aspects I’d really like to emphasize is that we’re not just thinking about satellites or ground systems. We’re thinking about the entire organized train equip cycle in line of effort. One is really focused on building not only the capabilities such a satellites, ground systems, but also developing the people and experts expertise and doctrine for this warfighting domains. And that’s really when you think about that change and really what what is in this strategy is this fundamental change to how approaching space. And it’s not just thinking as space as a support function where we put up satellites, they’re always gonna be there for us and on no provides the capabilities we need in peace time in crisis and conflict. This is thinking about it like our military forces do in other domains where we are prepared. We are ready. We’re thinking about how we can compete to turn win in the domain, and that gets to the fundamental importance of establishing a space force of a group of people who are focused on this domain. And it’s not only focused on the unique elements of the domain and the expertise on it, but also just as importantly, has focused on integrating space into the joint force and providing those capabilities to the warfighter throughout the conflict capabilities. You’ve spent a lot of time talking rehashing the Russian capabilities out there, which is important. But the public needs to know the United States is helpless. Yeah, and a ZAY said we’re gonna speak to specific systems. We absolutely, I mean that this is a strategy to ensure that we are ready for these threats that we’re facing in the domain. And there are a variety of ways to do that. And this goes to the whole Mission Assurance Framework where we’re able to assure our systems which has elements of resilience as elements of defense. It measures and as elements of even think about reconstituting in a conflict. So there’s a variety of ways to do this. We have to think about our entire approach and this is really what the Space Force as well as the Space Development Agency, which has a new approach to how we’re looking at at our space architectures, which is really complementary to the space force activities. But at the right point in the future will merge in tow the US Space Force. Okay, we’ll come back into the room now. 10. Also cooperation with the space development can iter how they participation Japanese, the government space more. You also have a day at the country canon viable of it like this House Korea’s So Japan has been, ah, a very close ally and growing ally in our space program. In fact, I’ve been there multiple times in this job and I’d highlight a couple areas that we’re working really closely with them is, um, one is they have a system that they’re putting into space called cues E SS. It’s essentially their version of a global positioning system for their national needs to provide position, navigation and timing nationally for the Japanese in that region. And what we’re doing is we’re putting a hosted payload, a space situational awareness payload on the Japanese satellite in the form of developing or partnership deeper with our cooperation with our architectural satellite systems. They’re also, though, send people to the United States to go through training to further develop their workforce. And I’d end by mentioning that they recently stood up a new space to focus military unit. Andi, uh, were very supportive of that. Their activities and their further development because they recognize, um, as I mentioned earlier, as many other nations are recognizing just how critical space is and how threatened it is. So we, as nations have to be prepared for this strategic environment that we find ourselves in that okay, one more in the room are is is an offensive capability in space part of the strategy here or, you know, is a simpler or we still looking manly defense. Is there you? If the Russians have a satellite that can shoot projectiles, is that gonna be part of our future? I’d go back, Teoh. I’d encourage you to read that details of the strategy which do talk about and I’m not going to talk about specific systems here today, but what it emphasizes that is that we are gonna have space. We need to mean to inner space superiority, which includes having the freedom of operation in the domain, assuring these capabilities to our warfighters throughout the conflict and being able to protect and defend against hostile space activities to our interest or other nations interest. Um, there’s a lot of ways to look at this, and I just mentioned briefly as you’re thinking about space there. There’s three, if not four components toe. Think about very often There’s the satellites themselves. There’s the ground station that’s commanding and controlling it and doing the processing. There’s the link in between, which is sending signals to space. And in certain systems you’ll have a user terminal, such as a GPS terminal that’s getting the signals or communications device. So as we’re thinking about conflict, we think about all these elements of of the space systems and how we’re gonna approach space war fighting. We have time for one more question on the phone with Dan Boyce, Cholera Public radio. Thank you, Deputy Secretary, Looking at a line here in the executive summary, it says that we’re talking about China and Russia here that they have capabilities specifically designed to contest or deny us access to and operations in the domain. Can you address more to what it means, what you mean by access to the domain. The operations part. I think I understand. But does that mean sort of preventing a satellite from launching into space, or even, say, the civilian space industry or scientific component of our space endeavours? Could you just talk a little bit more about that? So when when thinking about access to one way to think about it, is launch system? So yes, I mean, theoretically, you could use some sort of system to take out our launch sites, which would be one reason to be thinking about ensuring we have the necessary resiliency in our overall launch program. But another way, and thinking about access to is, goes back to that previous statement I was making about thinking about components of a space system, so access to includes the link in between. So when you have a ground system that’s communicating to a satellite system, access to is actually those communications in between. So if they’re preventing our access to our space systems to include those communications, we have to be ready for, for instance, those sorts of methods to to deny us the use of space so said another way, If they’re going to jam our space systems, then that is going to be something that we’re gonna have to be ready to deal with those sorts of threats. Last question to motion. Here in the room. Thank you. Thank you for doing this. Just given what you said about posture of us and, uh, China. Russia. Just kind of a basic question. How vulnerable do you think the U. S is against a new attack By saying Russia or trying to expect? Well, um, I would say that we were still ahead of them. Um, but are, uh, we We are absolutely at risk with the pace that they’re developing these capabilities, and these are very serious threats, and you can see in the strategy itself it, uh it talks about the central problem. The US space enterprise was not built for the current strategic environment, and that really gets to this thought of the enterprise that we’ve created in the past, which was this support function. We’re just gonna launch these satellites and they’re gonna be there for us, and we’re not. We’re not fully steeped in the whole element of building our forces as well as a point employing our forces for conflict to extend into the domain. Um, so so that’s this transformation that’s happening right now. And we have this unique, unique moment right now where we’re standing up the space force were standing up the space command, space development agencies, standing up or national leadership. And when I see national leadership, I mean both in the executive branch and the legislative branch has significant alignment in addressing these challenges and ensuring that we’re postured to protect a defender interest in space. That that that’s what insurance. That’s what this is about, ensuring we’re ready to do that and maintain that lead. Thank you, everybody for coming today. If you have any follow up questions, you know where to find me on the desk.

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