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  • Pentagon Looks To Space To Better Defend Americans

    A top military official Tuesday announced plans to revamp the defense community to better prepare for the growing threat of warfare in space.

    Though details of the plan are still being finalized, the goal is to develop war plans and an operations center to protect America against attacks from space. Since the Cold War, the concerns of satellite, missile or other space type attacks have been a huge concern for the defense community. With scientific advancements and improving military technologies from China and Russia, the concern is once again growing.

    At the GEOINT Symposium, which allows the defense community to discuss a variety of issues annually, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work made clear that very concern.

    “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened,” Work cautioned, according to Defense One.

    One of the more detailed aspects of the plans is the operations center. The center is expected to be opened within six months and will help the defense community by consolidating data from satellites belonging to all government agencies.

    The announcement mirrors aspects of the Strategic Defense Initiative, a President Ronald Reagan-era missile defense plan commonly referred to the “Star Wars” program. Though much more ambitious at a time when tensions were peaking between America and the Soviet Union, the program also hoped to better utilize government satellites for defense purposes.

    Many aspects of the program were never implemented but it did help the defense community advance significantly. Some aspects of the program still exist today under the Missile Defense Agency.

    Since the plans are still being developed, many details are yet to be answered. Bob Butterworth, a staffer on the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, notes it will be important to decide who will be in charge of the program in the event of war.

    “But the more interesting question, I think, is still unanswered: Who runs the heavens? That is, under what conditions does the commander of STRATCOM direct which assets go where to do what, vs conditions under which the IC and the military each control their own, vs conditions under which each will control their own in accordance with a jointly agreed oplan?” Butterworth told Breaking Defense in an email.

    Nevertheless, even with some details still needing to be decided, Butterworth sees significant benefits in the programs. He especially liked the idea of an operations center.

    “There might even be opportunities for better SSA, and for doing it more efficiently, if those opportunities can be exploited without divulging sensitive capabilities,” Butterworth noted.

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