QDR Offers Glimpse of DOD Thoughts on Space Policy; Space Posture Review Delayed

QDR Offers Glimpse of DOD Thoughts on Space Policy; Space Posture Review Delayed

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released February 1 by the Department of Defense (DOD) is pretty light on its discussion of national security space policy, but provides a glimpse of DOD’s current thinking on a few broad space issues. Meanwhile, DOD officially acknowledged that the congressionally-required Space Posture Review (SPR) will be delayed by several months.

Michele Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, said that DOD decided to wait until the overall review of U.S. space policy being led by the National Security Council is done before wrapping up the SPR –

“The Space Posture Review, which is a departmental effort, was being conducted in parallel with a presidential review of our national space policy. And as we got into that interagency review, we really came to believe it’s very important to set the parameters of that first, before firming up our own conclusions in the Space Posture Review.

“And so we decided to sequence them a little bit more, and to allow the interagency review to have time to be completed. In the meantime, we’ll offer Congress an interim report on the Space Posture Review that details our current posture and programs. But then we’ll aim to turn in our new Space Posture Review following on the president’s strategy in the June time frame.”

The most lengthy passage in the QDR addressing space policy calls for working more closely with international and commercial partners:

“Assure access to space and the use of space assets. The Department, through the implementation of priorities from the Space Posture Review, will explore opportunities to leverage growing international and commercial expertise to enhance U.S. capabilities and reduce the vulnerability of space systems and their supporting ground infrastructure. The Department will broaden and deepen relationships with other nations and private firms to create mutually beneficial partnerships to share capabilities, systems, technology, and personnel, while ensuring that we also protect sensitive sources and methods. Working both bilaterally and multilaterally, the Department will promote spaceflight safety. Air Force investments in space situational awareness will support U.S. efforts by enhancing the ability to attribute actions in space and gain greater understanding of events in space. Ongoing implementation of the 2008 Space Protection Strategy will reduce vulnerabilities of space systems, and fielding capabilities for rapid augmentation and reconstitution of space capabilities will enhance the overall resiliency of space architectures.” (pp. 33-34)

Going a step further, the QDR also says that “The United States will work with like-minded nations to foster norms regarding behavior in domains where an attack on one nation has consequences for all-especially in space and cyberspace.”

Finally, antisatellite tests and the growth in the number of space-faring nations are cited as two of several “recent trends” that “highlight growing challenges to stability throughout the global commons.”

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