Pentagon, White House

On posture and policy

Last week Defense News reported that the Defense Department’s 2010 Space Posture Review would be delayed by at least several months, and perhaps by up to a year. That has also been reported by DoD Buzz, which added an interesting item: the review may recommend that the US scrap building several additional GPS satellites in favor of working more closely with Europe and its satellite navigation system, Galileo, currently under development.

So what can we expect in terms of military space policy? Speaking at an event about the Space Security Index Thursday at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, Peter Hays, an SAIC senior scientist working at the National Security Space Office, offered some insights. While not directly involved in the development of the review, and also speaking solely for himself, he said he understood that the current plan was to release a “shorter, non-perscriptive” version of the review early next month, along with the FY2011 budget request. That would be the same time as the Defense Department plans to release the Quadrennial Defense Review, an overall defense policy report that the Space Posture Review was designed to support.

Hays said one unnamed person who was involved with the review process described the debate about it as splitting into four camps: “ostriches” who saw no reason to change what we do in space; a “steroids camp” that advocated doing the same as what we’re doing today in space, but more of it; soft power advocates who wanted more international cooperation and commercial partnerships as well as negotiations for “rules of the road” in space; and a “hard power” group that would increase the “less benign” capabilities of the Defense Department to protect US space capabilities. “Clearly if you have these kinds of divergent views and no resolution amongst them, it’s going to be difficult to fashion a holistic and theoretically, foundationally based clean-sheet approach to all of this,” Hays said.

The rest of the work that had gone into the review would be reworked, he said, as part of a “national security space strategy”. That would come out after the completion of a new overall national space policy. The current schedule calls for completing that policy by early summer, although Hays was skeptical that schedule could be kept. He noted that it took several years for the Bush Administration to develop its national space policy, a process that started in 2002 and was not completed until August 2006, thus he thought it was unlikely the current administration could complete its own space policy so quickly. “Perhaps the Obama Administration has a time machine, but I’m not optimistic that they’re going to be able to do all this work on the timeline that they’ve outlined,” he said.

7 comments to On posture and policy

  • Not continuing to upgrade GPS in favor of Eurocooperation seems to me to be fixing something that’s not broken.

  • tps

    Actually it should be the other way around with them coming to work with us.

  • Major Tom

    “Not continuing to upgrade GPS in favor of Eurocooperation seems to me to be fixing something that’s not broken.”

    The point is probably not to fix the U.S. GPS, which, as you state, obviously doesn’t need fixing.

    The point is probably to put a stake in the heart of Galileo, so there is no strong competitor to the U.S. GPS. As long as the Galileo program is weak, it’s a good opportunity to overcome European distaste for the military nature of the U.S. GPS and encourage/force the Europeans to work to U.S. global positioning standards.

    But given the disastrous NPOESS experience of combining USAF, NOAA, and European polar weather satellite requirements in a single system, the U.S. government needs to plan very carefully, both technically and organizationally. We don’t need another critical space system crippled by well-intended mergers leading to massive overruns and schedule slips.


  • Habitat Hermit

    Ok, “there is no problem” and “they should have a problem and come ask us to fix it” and “we’ll give them a problem”, that’s what you’re actually saying isn’t it? I don’t mind that you say so or whether it’s true or not but what about the question on whether the US is even welcome to join Galileo? Right off the bat I wouldn’t think so for several reasons and if that’s the case then all the rest is moot.

  • NASA Fan

    Looks like Obama’s ‘international cooperation’ initiative, soon to be revealed as part of the new direction for HSF, because we are broke as a nation and need help funding anything we do in space, has not taken root in the DoD community. Think Obama will have a much harder road to travel in that culture to get reforms through…be they GPS or missile defense, or etc.

  • mike shupp

    NASA Fan –

    We are not “broke as a nation” (not more than just about anyone else anyhow) and do not “need help funding” our space activities. OTOH, we have a strong interest in persuading several billion in Ireland and Denmark and Morocco and Indonesia and China and Japan and so on, that we are a nation filled to the brim with people with great technical ability, andthat we are eager to work with similar people from Ireland and Denmark, etc. to build a beautiful future world of peace and plenty and equality and high tech adventures for all; and that those nasty tales of waterboarding captives and keeping prisoners without trials and obliterating small towns in the hopes of bumping out middle-rank terrorists have all been serious overstated. After all, we hope to hammer out trade agreements in future years with Ireland et al, we want their votes on our side in the UN, we may want them to return fugitive bankers in the not so distant future.

    Think Soft Power, in other words. Of course, this is foreign policy and international relations rather than space, but the US space program is fairly visible and fairly cheap, and it isn’t as if the country has anything better to use astronauts on for the next fifty years, so …. Bingo. We need and love our international partners! Let us work together on a better world!

    And yes, DoD will go along, particularly after troop strength and procurement budgets start taking $50 B/year hits in a couple of years. Soft power is better than nothing at all.

    Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of tools to

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