Paradigm Shift Needed, National Security Space Experts Agree

Paradigm Shift Needed, National Security Space Experts Agree

Today the George C. Marshall Institute and the Space Enterprise Council convened a roundtable titled “National Security Space: Policy and Program Development.” Jeff Kueter, President of the Institute, explained the event was meant to ensure that the military and intelligence side of space would not be “shoved under the radar” in discussions following the release of the National Space Policy (NSP). During a lively discussion, experts focused on the array of challenges officials will face in implementing the national security directions in the NSP, at the heart of which is a broad paradigm shift needed in the government’s approach to space.

The interdependence between sectors and the increasingly contested, congested, and competitive space environment have produced a number of shared challenges, as one panelist put it. Increased space situational awareness data sharing, the development of rules for responsible behavior in space, and the reinvigoration of the industrial space sector to support these goals, are just some of the challenges that will require changes in how the United States structures its space activities: internally – between government agencies and with industry – and externally, with international partners.

In an era of continuing fiscal constraints, the diversification and flexibility of space capabilities will become even more important, calling for a variety of measures to integrate commercial and foreign capabilities into the mix. Several panelists described changes in acquisition strategies – including hosted payloads on foreign and commercial satellites and the transition toward larger numbers of smaller commercially-developed systems – to achieve these goals in the long run.

Panelists agreed that the NSP includes language advancing this paradigm shift in the right direction, but that leadership commitment and strategic thinking will determine its success. The task of Chirag Parikh, newly appointed director of Space Policy at the National Security Council, who was frequently mentioned in the discussion and was in the audience, will be in implementation. “Sounds like an easy job,” joked Kueter as the event drew to a close. As the saying goes, the devil will be in the details – implementation details, that is.

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