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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks on the New U.S. Commitment Not to Conduct Destructive Direct-Ascent Anti-Satellite Missile Testing at Vandenberg Space Force Base (As Prepared)

Thank you, Maj Gen Burt, Rep Carbajal, Sen Padilla, and Representative Lieu, for joining today – and thank you, Vice President Harris for your leadership on this important issue.

Space plays a vital role in our nation’s security.

Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense released a 2022 National Defense Strategy Fact Sheet.  That document makes clear that “integrated deterrence” is foundational to our strategy.

Integrated deterrence “entails developing and combining our strength to maximum effect, by working seamlessly across warfighting domains, theaters, and spectrum of conflict, other instruments of U.S. national power, and our unmatched network of Alliances and partnerships.”

Our ability to operate in space is critical to this approach.   Across sea, land, and air, the entire Joint Force relies on space in the conduct of our military operations. 

For example, US national security satellites provide imagery, missile warning and tracking, and satellite communications.  These capabilities help protect Americans at home and U.S. forces and operations overseas.

And national security space-based capabilities are not just used by the military. 

Everyone in this audience has surely used the Global Positioning System, or GPS.  It is a free service- provided to the entire globe – by the U.S. military.  Another example: Department of Defense missile warning satellites, which detect infrared heat signatures, are also used to help crews on the ground battle wildfires

Today, however, our use of space is under threat.

China and Russia continue to develop, test, and proliferate sophisticated anti-satellite weapons to hold U.S. and allied space assets at risk; assets that help preserve safety and stability for countries around the globe.

For example, Russia conducted a November 2021 anti-satellite missile test, which created over 1,500 pieces of trackable debris.  The Russians then followed up with a direct threat to the GPS system that is relied upon by nations worldwide for multiple purposes.

To ensure our ability to operate in space –the President’s Fiscal year 2023 budget request looks to invest $27.6 billion dollars in the Defense Department’s space capabilities and resilient architectures.   

It funds two more GPS satellites and invests in the development of secure, survivable satellite communications. And it funds the Defense Department’s transition to a new, resilient missile warning and missile tracking architecture. 

All nations on Earth benefit from space. Therefore, every nation on Earth has an interest in seeing space as a safe and secure domain.

Countries and militaries across the globe should work to enhance the sustainability, safety, security, and stability of space. 

Madame Vice President, your leadership on space norms is substantially advancing this goal. Thank you for your continued support and engagement on this critical national security issue.