News   Partnerships

Space Policy Chief: Partnerships Key to Success in Domain

Oct. 2, 2019 | BY Terri Moon Cronk
You have accessed part of a historical collection on Some of the information contained within may be outdated and links may not function. Please contact the DOD Webmaster with any questions.

Partnerships will be a key element of U.S. success in an era of great-power competition in space, the Defense Department's space policy chief said.

Stephen L. Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, spoke Sept. 30 at an Atlantic Council event in Washington.

The nation is at a strategic inflection point for space, and at that inflection point, officials are looking at the reliance on space systems that are at an all-time high and expanding, Kitay said. "This is both for our way of war and our way of life," he added.

Against a blue sky and large clouds, a rocket launches into the air, leaving behind billows of smoke.
Magellan Launch
An airman from the 45th Space Wing records the liftoff of United Launch Alliance's Delta IV GPS III Magellan rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Aug. 22, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker
VIRIN: 190822-F-AO460-1003

The threats the United States faces in the space domain also are at an all-time high and expanding, Kitay said. 

"The threats are real, serious and growing," the space policy chief said. "China and Russia, in particular, are pursuing counter-space capabilities which are serious, and the department is really preparing to make sure that we can respond to these threats."

The world is changing, and DOD needs to change with it, he noted — changing to preparing for space not only as a support function, but also as a domain that must be viewed from a deterrence and competition perspective while preparing to assure, protect and defend U.S. capabilities.

Vapor fills the sky as a rocket blasts off.
Blastoff Test
The Ascent Abort-2 takes off for a test flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., July 2, 2019.
Photo By: James Rainier, Air Force
VIRIN: 190702-F-UT715-1004E

Such a transformation is a profound change for DOD, Kitay said, adding that actions in space will affect the outcome of future conflicts and crises. And the department can no longer just think about sending satellites into space, he added, without thinking about key concepts such as resilience and preparing for affecting those outcomes at the start of the programs.

A key element of these changes is the U.S. Space Command, which activated in August as the nation's 11th combatant command and is focused on deterrence and operations. Kitay said that's a starting point. "But next is the Space Development Agency, and this is an agency focused on providing capabilities rapidly to our warfighters, and then the Space Force," he said.

President Donald J. Trump speaks at a podium with two men in suits and an Air Force general standing behind him.
Space Command Announcement
President Donald J. Trump speaks about the creation of U.S. Space Command during a White House ceremony with Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, Spacecom commander, Aug. 29, 2019.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 190829-D-BN624-0052

The United States has a strategic imperative to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces, and it will be focused on the capabilities, people and doctrine of the domain, Kitay said. And partnerships are part of the equation, he added.

"There is a new energy on partnerships," he said. "In the past, space was a domain of relatively few actors, and … that has also changed. So not only does the [United States] depend on space for its security and its way of life, but so do our allies and partners. In other domains — air, land and sea — we have learned to work together in coalitions, and different countries bring different capabilities, different authorities, different people to those coalitions. But [what] is common is a common vision.

"That is what we need in space," he continued, "because we need to develop that common vision — because we do share a common threat. So we have a lot of work that we have ahead of us. We have made great progress."