Today’s Tidbits: September 27, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: September 27, 2017

Here are our tidbits for today, September 27, 2017.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Gen. Dunford Re-confirmed — Worried About North Korean ASAT Threat, Opposes Space Corps

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (USMC). Photo credit: DOD

By voice vote this evening, the Senate re-confirmed Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., USMC, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).  It is a 2-year appointment that can be renewed twice. This will be his second term. The CJCS is the highest ranking military officer in the United States and the top military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) held a confirmation hearing yesterday.  National security space programs and the role of space in U.S. national security garnered very little attention.  Senator Gary Peters (D-Michigan) was the only one to ask space-related questions. They focused on the threat posed by China’s space program, especially antisatellite (ASAT) efforts.

Dunford replied that most U.S. national security satellite systems were designed in an earlier era and are not resilient to ASAT attacks from China or Russia, adding that “even North Korea has a nascent anti-space program.”  Additional resources are needed to increase resilience and “there’s a wide range of other capabilities we need, as well.”  He agreed with Peters that there is potential to leverage commercial satellite capabilities “to expand our intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance capability.”

Although the topic did not arise during the hearing, in written answers to questions posed prior to the hearing, Dunford joined other current and former military officials, the White House, and the Senate in opposing creation of a Space Corps within the Air Force as proposed in the House-passed FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Dunford said it would “disrupt current operations, distract from ongoing reorganization efforts and upend current resourcing priorities.”

However, he supported another part of the House proposal — creating a U.S. Space Command as a subunit of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).  In fact he said USSTRATCOM is already taking initial steps in that direction with its recent establishment of a Joint Force Space Component Command, whose commander is dual-hatted as Commander of Air Force Space Command.

Gallaudet Nomination Hearing  — No News on NOAA’s Satellite Programs 

RDML Timothy Gallaudet (Ret.). Photo credit: U.S. Navy

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s nomination hearing today provided no new information about RDML Timothy Gallaudet’s (Ret.) views on NOAA’s satellite programs.  Gallaudet was one of four nominees at the witness table today and the focus was on the other three who will head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The few questions posed to Gallaudet were on other parts of NOAA’s broad portfolio of responsibilities, especially the National Weather Service and fisheries. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) bore in on Gallaudet regarding seafood fraud.  Gallaudet promised to study the issue further if he is confirmed, but the Senator sternly replied that he needs to study it now because he will not vote in favor of the nomination until he knows what Gallaudet is going to do about it.

He’d better snap to it. The committee has scheduled an Executive Session for October 4 to vote on his nomination and those of the others, plus several bills.

Also on this week:


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