Allard Commission Recommendations Still Valid, National Space Council Needed to Fix National Security Space Program

Allard Commission Recommendations Still Valid, National Space Council Needed to Fix National Security Space Program

The recommendations of the congressionally-mandated “Allard Commission,” including the need to reestablish the National Space Council, are still valid two years after they were issued. Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor of National Security Studies at the Naval War College, draws that conclusion in an article for the Joint Force Quarterly’s latest issue.

The commission, named after former Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) who wrote the legislative language that created it in the FY2007 DOD authorization act, completed its report in 2008. The commission was set up to make an independent assessment of the organization and management of national security space programs.

Chaired by retired aerospace executive A. Thomas Young, the commission made four recommendations:

  • establish and execute a national space strategy and reestablish the National Space Council, under the chairmanship of the National Security Advisor, to implement it;
  • create a senior National Security Space Authority in support of the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence;
  • establish a National Security Space Organization to consolidate the functions of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, other parts of Air Force Space Command, and the National Reconnaissance Office; and
  • adopt and implement strategies for identifying, selecting, educating, training and managing a core group of government professionals in sufficient numbers to support the nation’s space acquisition responsibilities.

Johnson-Freese finds that two years after the report was issued “military space integration is still limited by organizational gridlock and resistance, with few indications of positive change on the horizon. The answer for how to change that dim future outlook remains within the Allard Report.”

In particular, Johnson-Freese champions the Allard Commission’s recommendation to reestablish the National Space Council under the chairmanship of the National Security Advisor. The original National Aeronautics and Space Council, created as part of the 1958 law that established NASA, was abolished by President Nixon in 1973. A National Space Council was recreated by Congress in the FY1989 NASA authorization act, and President George H.W. Bush established it by Executive Order early in his term under the leadership of Vice President Dan Quayle. The Council still exists in law, but neither President Clinton nor President George W. Bush chose to staff or fund it. President Obama pledged to reinstate it during his campaign, but has not done so. “The ability to stifle such a promised action is a tribute to the power of bureaucratic and organizational politics,” says Johnson-Freese.

The Allard Commission and Johnson-Freese want the Space Council to be chaired by the National Security Advisor, instead of being a separate White House entity under the Vice President’s purview as it was previously. Johnson-Freese says that putting it under the National Security Advisor “unambiguously signals an attempt to move space policy closer to the inner circle of Presidential advisors and to someone with a strong position in the security communities.” If that does not happen, she continues, space issues will be considered as subsets of other issues, never rising beyond “the level of bureaucratic, staff importance. Until somebody close to the President is in charge, we will continue to rearrange deck chairs.”

Transformation, not reorganization, is needed to fix the problems with the national security space program, she argues, adding that “While the presence of a National Space Council does not assure that transformation will occur, its absence almost certainly does assure that it will not.”

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