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Dr. John F. Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, Holds an Off-Camera, On-the-Record Press Briefing

STAFF:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Today Dr. John Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, is holding an off-camera, on-the-record press briefing to discuss the space policy portfolio, what it provides for the department and how it covers the strategic capabilities of integrated deterrence, including space, cyber, missile defense, electromagnetic warfare, nuclear weapons and countering weapons of mass destruction. Dr. Plumb.


Good afternoon.  Thanks, everybody, for joining us.  I've got an opening statement, and then we can get to your questions, all right?

So today the U.S. faces a world with two near-peer competitors.  As the first assistant secretary of defense for space policy, with a policy portfolio that, despite the name of "space policy," covers all the strategic capabilities of integrated deterrence, I just wanted to take this opportunity to share how my team is supporting the National Defense Strategy and getting after the challenges posed by the current and emerging security environment.

So the National Defense Strategy has four top-level priorities for the department, defend the homeland, with China as our pacing challenge; deter strategic attacks against the United States and our allies and partners; deter aggression and be prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary; and build a resilient joint force and defense ecosystem.

Well, my offices support every one of these priorities in multiple ways.  And my teams help shape policy and the investments that result from that policy to maintain our U.S. military's military and technological edge.

So, as just one example, across my portfolio, we are deepening cooperation with allies and partners.  Our network of allies and partners is an asymmetric advantage and a force multiplier that neither China nor Russia could ever hope to match.

And we work very closely with our military men and women to support integrated deterrents.  My team and I are in near-daily contact with Space Command, Cyber Command, Strategic Command and the Space Force and the Joint Staff, really at all levels.

I believe having strong relationships with our military colleagues is essential to our jobs and essential to navigating the emerging security environment.  As a matter of fact, just before this meeting, I just met with the new commander of Space Command, General Whiting.

And I'd like to note one thing, as you think about my portfolio here, keep focusing on China, conflict with China is not inevitable.  And, frankly, a fundamental measure of success is our ability to deter such a conflict in the first place.

Let me just, kind of, walk through some of my main lines of effort in my different offices.  I'll start with Space.  So for Space, I've continued to hammer away on my three Cs priorities: space control, space cooperation and space classification, by which I continue to mean over-classification.

On space control, we've worked very closely with the White House, and that has resulted in clear guidance to protect and defend our national security interests in space and to protect and defend the joint force from space-enabled attack.  And so my team is working to make sure we can do just that.

On cooperation, we've been working to achieve true combined space operations through the expanded and reinvigorated 10-nation, now — it was seven, but it's now 10 — Combined Space Operations Initiative.

We're also working on a new DoD international space cooperation strategy, which will also help, kind of, further support this — this need to help allies and partners and to work together.

And my team is also working on this first commercial space integration strategy I've talked about in the past, to more effectively leverage the commercial space sector's innovation and speed throughout the spectrum of conflict.

And on space over-classification, I'm quite happy to say that Deputy Secretary of Defense Hicks recently signed a memo that removes legacy classification barriers that have inhibited our ability to collaborate across the U.S. government and also with allies on issues related to space.  And so I think that will pay dividends, over time, that are overdue.

In the cyber domain, we're undergoing several efforts to shape the future of our cyber forces, including how we generate, train and organize for maximum effect, what some of us have started calling Cyber Command 2.0.  We're developing options for the secretary of defense that will be informed by multiple independent studies, many of which have been requested through the Congress, and we'll also be developing those options in coordination with the COCOMs and the services.

And while that's under way, we continue to disrupt and degrade malicious cyber actors' capabilities and forge deeper cooperation with allies and partners.  We're learning how to work more closely with them in the cyber domain, and we're also working to enhance their own capacity to do so.

And then, on my nuclear weapons portfolio, we are strengthening our extended deterrence commitments and security architectures, and we're doing that across the globe.  We're deepening the integration between our military capabilities and those of our allies and partners.  That's our NATO allies in Europe, and in the Indo-Pacific, our allies, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, have all had a much deepened and strengthened relationship, which is a tremendous amount of work, and it's absolutely valuable and worthwhile.  And we're really proud of the work we're doing.

We also continue to support the full-scope modernization of all three legs of our triad to ensure our continued ability to deter large-scale attacks and also to deter limited nuclear employment by our adversaries.  And we're closely studying the findings of the Strategic Posture Commission to ensure the U.S. is postured to confront a more complex security environment defined with two major nuclear-armed competitors for the first time.

That's not all my team does.  We work on missile defense, electronic warfare, countering weapons of mass destruction.  It's a big portfolio.

My experience over the last two years has been that functional offices like mine have had increasing visibility and increasing interest across the department and the interagency at the highest levels of government.  And I expect that trend to continue.  I think that is one of the hallmarks of this part of the 21st Century, is that these strategic capabilities are increasingly in demand.

I'm really proud of the work we're doing to advance integrative deterrence, ensure we're ready for the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions.

Q:  Thanks.  A question — and thanks for doing this — a question on missile defense and missile tracking.  So you've got SDA, MDA, SSC all working on different missile warning, missile tracking systems.  Can you articulate why they all have to be working on something?  Is there any danger of duplication there?  And how are they going to work together once they get all up there?  And what is your role inside this department on ensuring, not just on missile tracking efforts like that but across these other platforms, that there's not duplication in — in space capabilities?

DR. PLUMB:  Thanks, Chris, for the question.  First of all, avoiding duplication is actually important for all of us, right?  We don't want to waste money.  And so how do we make sure that different lines of effort are filling different gaps?

I do not see duplication of effort here.  I will say the thing that you're on to here is, especially when you add Derek's shop in SDA, is that we're looking at how can we do missile warning and missile track from a proliferated constellation?

And so that's a different thing, right?  Right now, most of our capabilities are large steering objects from GEO.  And so how do we do this from LEO to have a more resilient architecture so it can survive better in a conflict with a near peer and also how do we figure out a way to do that in an effective cost?

And so that's kind of what you're seeing.  This is one of the priorities of the President, frankly, to get after missile warning, missile track from a resilient constellation standpoint, and I think the balance is about right but it is we're always looking for that to make sure we don't have duplication of efforts.

Q:  And just to follow up on the proliferation point, that's kind of now become ingrained in this Department as I’d think you’d be happy to see, but what's the next step here?  We're hearing talk of dynamic space operations, moving around.  Where do you see dynamic space operations going into the future, moving around orbits? 

DR. PLUMB:  So I think — well, I think it is realistic because the commercial sector is developing ways to refuel in space.  It turns out that — and this is mostly for the geosynchronous belt, where it's easy to kind of move between objects — I would say that it's become clear over decades that a lot of the things that lead to the lifetime exhaustion of a satellite is often fuel.  And so if the only thing that is stopping you from ringing another year or three or five years out of a capability, especially as a commercial provider, is fuel and you could refuel, that's a cost effective tradeoff.

So I think for the military, this issue of, delta-V — is what we call how much gas you have left in the tank, which, is your ability to change velocity — that little piece, every time you maneuver to reposition for a new mission, move over here because you had a — every time you do that, you're exhausting the life of a satellite.  And being able to get after that, even for basic operations, I think would be a real win.

And so we're really interested in seeing this emerge.

Q:  Thank you.  Mr. Secretary, thank you for doing this.  A question on the Commercial Base Integration Strategy.  Can you explain what is the difference between the DOD Commercial Strategy and the one that the Space Force is doing?  That's what we're hearing, that they're working on a separate document.  Why do you have to have two separate strategy documents?

DR. PLUMB:  Yes, so first of all, thanks for the question.  And we are working together to develop these two documents, just so we're clear.  And frankly, I met with the CSO several times on these pieces to make sure that we're kind of hand-in-hand.

I would say we're hoping that they will be released in the near future as we kind of push them up through the building and get approval for the most senior folks.  But a Secretary document, a little more strategic focused for the entire department looking out.  I think that the Space Force document, a little bit more focused towards acquisition.  And I actually think the way we've been developing them together is going to be a nice combination.  And so I do think there's a space for both.

Q: And have you approved to the commercial reserve that the CASR — they call it the CASR?

DR. PLUMB:  So that's — so that's the CASR you're raising, which is out of Space Systems Command.  And I just had a great conversation with their lead on that.  I am not an approval mechanism for that.  One of the things that we are wrestling with as a department is there an analogy to the CRAF for the air domain or the VISA program for the maritime domain that might apply to space?

Space Systems Command has developed this CASR piece in a way that is independent of additional statutory language.  And so it's a piece we're struggling with.  Is the time right now?  Probably not.  Maybe there's a time in the future.  I think getting after a lot of these problems through contractual mechanisms is our current — our current goal.

Q: Thank you for doing this.  And my question was about the classification strategy.  Could you clarify when exactly that was signed by Deputy Secretary Hicks?

And could you also elaborate a little bit on what it does?  Is it especially focused on special access programs and making them — opening old ones or is this future focused on reducing the use of such things so that you can share better with NATO and other allies?  Thank you.

DR. PLUMB:  Great.  Thanks, Theresa.  So the classification strategy was signed at the end of 2023.  And roughly — couple things.  One, it's a — it's a classified document, so I can't go into any of the eaches with you here, but I've talked about classification multiple times and I know that was kind of funny for some of you, but it's not.

So this issue, we have about — inside the Beltway, people always ask me about how can I make things unclassified?  And that is not actually a thing I'm all that concerned about.  I'm concerned about making things — reducing the classification of things where they are over-classified to the point that it hampers our ability to get work done or hamper the ability of the warfighter to do their mission.

And so in kind of our world of classification, programs that are in the SAP, special access programs, have additional controls, which makes it very difficult to talk back and forth, even between components.

And so anything we can bring from a SAP level to a top secret level, for example, massive value to the warfighter, massive value to the department.  And frankly, my hope is over time it will also allow us to share more information with allies and partners that they might not currently have — be able to share that information with at the SAP level.

So what the classification memo does generally is it overwrites — it really completely rewrites a legacy document that had its roots 20 years ago.  And it's just no longer applicable to the current environment that involves national security space.  The fundamental roots of that document were written when we still had a space shuttle program.  It makes no sense.

And so we are assigning minimum classifications to a various number of things, which will then allow services to examine their own programs and determine, should this really be SAPed anymore.  And the general point that I have made clear is policy is not a reason — is not the only reason to hide something in a SAP program.  There have to be technical aspects to it.  And I do think this will take time for the building to absorb.  I know there are many folks looking forward to getting started on it.  It is part of the deputy's SAP reform.  It is part of the way we are going to bring space into the normal — you know, and just one more operational domain we have to kind of normalize the classification of our systems.

Long answer.  I hope I hope that helped, Theresa.

Q:  It did.  Can I just ask a quick follow-up?  Have you planned –or do you have plans to brief our allies and partners on these changes?

DR. PLUMB:  I will be briefing some close allies and partners on these changes. And I will leave it at that.

Q:  Hi.  Thank you for doing this.  Dr. Plumb, I was wondering if you could update us on OSD's efforts to get alternatives to Starlink for helping allies, partners get satellite connectivity, and also, if there have been any concerns in kind of what the department's doing about maybe an over-reliance on SpaceX, given some of Elon Musk's recent behaviors.  Thank you.

DR. PLUMB:  Thanks, Tara.  I think there's a little bit of a balance here, so let me just say what I tell everyone when they ask me these general questions.  There's just two points.  One, SpaceX has done some remarkable things.  Starlink is the first proliferated kind of LEO constellation for satellite Internet connectivity, and that is a remarkable achievement.  And of course, the department wants access to this kind of commercial innovation that adds capability.

The second statement is, competition is good, and we need more competition in this space, and it is coming.  You know, SpaceX and Starlink have been first to market, and of course, we take advantage of that.  But I think part of the commercial space strategy, as Ari asked about here, is how can we make sure that we're harnessing all the different aspects of the commercial market that might provide opportunities for the warfighter?  Because of course, we don't want to be over-reliant on any one source, and that's actually — that's true of any situation.

Q:  Just as a quick follow-up, could you talk about maybe some of the challenges that up-and-coming companies are having in creating their own, you know, LEO-type of satellite train that you might see with Starlink?

DR. PLUMB:  I guess that's a little bit outside of my lines of responsibility.  I'm happy to kind of do a follow-up with you on that if you like, but I don't — I don't have an immediate answer to that.  Sorry, Tara.

Q:  Hi. I was wondering if you could provide any detail on China and Russia's current space capabilities.  Like, are you guys tracking any new adversarial systems?  And I guess, which, you know, specific adversary capability are you guys most concerned about right now?

DR. PLUMB:  Thanks.  One — you know, one of the jobs the department and our community is to track whatever counter-space or space capabilities China and Russia, or others are developing, so kind of look at that constantly.  At the unclassified level, we are concerned about their direct sent — ASAT capabilities.  We're concerned about their highly maneuverable systems like the SJ-21 in GEO that look like they could very easily be used as weapon systems.  Obviously, there's ability to do cyber-attacks, is an issue, as well.  At the kind of one level above that, really concerned about the pace of the threat and the scale of it, and those are the two things that I think really, you know, keep us working.

Q:  And in terms of — a question on international norms.  I guess, do the current — do — would the Pentagon say that current international norms are enough to stop an adversary from attacking a U.S. or allied satellite?  Or would you say they need to evolve?

DR. PLUMB:  So if I may, let me just answer that in two parts.  One, I would not suggest that a norm stops anybody from attacking anything, right?  That's not — I mean, norms at sea are to prevent collision.  If you're at war at sea, you know, I guess you're trying to avoid collision, but you're still trying to sink the other guy.

So I think the norms, however, done correctly, both enhance the stability and security of the space domain for all operators, not just militaries; militaries, governments, civilian, you know, commercial — all these different operators — more norms that actually are enforceable and can promote kind of that safe peace, I think — be helpful, and I don't think we're all the way there yet.  I will say that as a military thinking about it, norms are a way to say, what is normal behavior?  So it helps us and others identify what is out of the norm, and now this attracts interest.  What is the intent of this craft that's maneuvering (inaudible)?

Q:  Hi.  Lauren Williams. Thank you for doing this.  You mentioned that you were developing some options for the secretary with respect to CYBERCOM 2.0.  Can you speak a little bit more about what you're developing and what changes you're seeing specifically not just on the cyber realm, but also in the — the spectrum realm with current global threats?  Thanks.

DR. PLUMB:  So in this case — we're talking about cyber — the Congress has laid on, you know, really, multiple studies over the past few years to look at what things should the department do or could be doing to improve our ability to generate cyber forces, train cyber forces, retain cyber forces for maximum effect?  One study in particular from, I think, the '23 NDAA is Section 1533, which had the advantage of giving us enough time to actually work on the problem and think about it, and not just come back in three months or six months, which is great.  That's a good partnership with the Congress.

And so we have been slowly working through various options, and the question is, like, how much would need to change?  What should you look at?  They have asked us to specifically look at a cyber service, for example.  But I really think, like, what are we after for readiness?  How can we make readiness better?  We have this issue where it takes us a long time to train operators, and then they time out.  So how can we get more return on that training investment?  And also, how can we make sure that they aren't just languishing in quals because one magical thing didn't happen the day they were on watch?

And so we're trying to figure out, how are all the tools we could get at that?  And it turns out that when you look at all the things that are coming, we know we have to present the Secretary a set of options, really, to this one large kind of significant study.  We've got a bunch of other studies coming in.

And so the point is, what we should absorb all of those studies, find the best recommendations, and then try to present a more comprehensive set of options to the Secretary so we stop doing these things piecemeal and absorb or reject recommendations or options as they come.  So how can we do this altogether?

And this is — because the timelines work out, we're starting to think about this could be a really great opportunity for us to go to that next level of evolution for Cyber Command.

Q:  Thank you.  North Korea launched military satellite last year and then announced the plan to launch three more satellites this year.  So how do you see the North Korea space capability?  And then how do you deter North Korea space threats?

DR. PLUMB:  So I think the question is how do we — I'm sorry, did you say how do we deter their space capability or how — what — how do I consider their space capability?

Q:  Yes, the second — two questions — how do you consider North Korea's space capability and then how do you — how do you deter such North Korea space threat?

DR. PLUMB:  So a couple things.  One, obviously there's a host of problems with North Korea, including their ballistic missile programs and all of the violations against UN resolutions.  But those things aside, I will say, you know, most nations seek access to space.

And so it's not clear that just launching a satellite constitutes a threat.  It's also not clear that launching a satellite that may not have capabilities commensurate with what you could buy in the commercial market constitutes a threat either.

As far as the idea of North Korea as a threat from space, if there are things that — that enable their ability to do a war fight, that is a thing we take seriously and track and and build into our plans.

Q:  Hi, Dr. Plumb, thank you for doing this.  I wanted to ask you about the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability program the U.S. is working on with the UK and Australia.  Can you just provide some insight into how your office is collaborating with your UK and Australian counterparts?  And kind of — if you could also provide some insight into what types of objects you guys are hoping to identify and track in deep space?  Is this potential adversary threats?  Is this asteroids, meteors, debris, or all the above?  Thank you.

DR. PLUMB:  Sure.  So thanks, Josh.  My office works closely with Australia and the UK — and the Space Force who is the other part of that conversation there — both for continuing to advance our partnerships with different allies, and a thing that we've been working on of course is making space just one more domain in which we can cooperate with allies.

DARC provides a really interesting opportunity geographically, right?  Between the UK, the U.S., and Australia, once it's complete, really have 360 degree coverage of the GEO belt and beyond.  I think, you know, probably leave it at that.

I haven't heard anyone mentioning asteroids until you just said that.  That doesn't mean you're not right, I just — that's not really where my head is when I think about what I need to do for space domain awareness and what we need to do as allies to understand the domain, what's happening in it, what's maneuvering, when.

Q:  Understood, thanks.  Just a quick follow-up — with these three sites in the different countries, do you foresee any challenges kind of sharing any intel and data from the different locations?

DR. PLUMB:  You know, I don't.  These are always hard to work through but one of the points is to work through it.  So I think that will be helpful, right?  We have to be able to figure out how to move information around at speed.  And of course, you know, the UK and Australia, you couldn't have closer allies.

So it's maybe a little bit of an easier button there but I don't see that.  I'm not saying it's 100 percent solved yet but we will solve that.  That's one of the forcing functions of this architecture.

Q:  — Yemen related — Space Force, Yemen related.  A couple of years ago, Space Force established a — an element at CENTCOM.  Fast forward a year later, what benefits are you seeing in the current conflict with Yemen, in terms of space assets being used to help monitor, queue, against missile warning and protecting maritime shipping? And I have a follow-up.

DR. PLUMB:  Okay.  So we'll do that, then we'll do your follow-up.  So I guess I would say I don't have any specifics for you on the Yemen situation.  I could say in general, space is absolutely essential to any mission the United States military does.  You know, I like to say — I'm not the only one — it's in our DNA, it's just part of the way we fight, it's part of the way we think, it's part of the way we operate.

SPACECENT is just like NAVCENT, AFCENT.  The whole point is services provide effects to COCOMs when the COCOM calls for them, right?  And the services are the ones that execute them.  And so SPACECENT is really kind of the realization of that — is we have a service, we have space effects.  The space service — Space Force, in this case — should be providing those effects to the different combatant commanders.

And just on the value of space in general, yes, absolutely right, the missile warning, the imagery, whatever you could do better all sorts of things available from space, from an ISR to a SATCOM to a warning level, that affect that particular scenario, as well as scenarios around the world.

Q: Just one follow-up. I want to make sure I hear you right.  Do you feel there's enough competition right now in the launch world with SpaceX — ULA, for an example — and Starlink, which is unprotected commercial satellite communications?  Does the DOD need more competition to prevent this perception of over-dependence on Starlink or is it about right?  I just wanted to make sure you clarified that.

DR. PLUMB:  So recognizing that I am not an acquisition authority, I think I speak for the building when I say competition is good.  So it'd be better if we had a more competitive market on some of these cases, but if someone's the first to that market and they are providing a valuable service, of course we're going to try to figure out how to use it.

So I think in the long run, you can see these coming with other companies are generating these pieces.  I think there will be more options for SATCOM from LEO, for example.  An  I am sure that eventually the department will move to also include those in their — in their plans just for better resilience.

Q:  — From Vulcan—level of competition?

DR. PLUMB:  I think it's improving — I think it's improving.  I think the Vulcan launch — the launch part itself looked great.  You know, it's been a while coming and I think they got that right and I think you'll see more entrance there with this new version of an SSO over time.

Q:  Hi.  Shelley Mesch with Inside Defense.  We've talked a little bit about dynamic space capabilities, and you mentioned commercial businesses working on that.  Do you think the DOD should be part of leading the way in development on that or is that something that you would want to take from commercial later?  And are there any other capabilities that you see coming in the future that DOD can maybe wait on until they're fully developed in the commercial world to bring them in?

DR. PLUMB:  So that question has a lot of layers but I will say this — it's not like we've launched satellites that are ready for this future architecture where you can be refueled.

Now, some of the things you've seen done already in space at the commercial level is taking advantage of, like, a known thruster engine that they have figured out a way to connect to, but what we're talking about emerging, and I think emerging reasonably soon is, designing the satellite bus so that it is ready to be refueled, possibly even ready to have a payload swapped. 

That's very interesting.  I mean, I think there's just a whole lot of pieces, right?  You send less mass up that you don't need and only send more — and you can send more mass up that you do need. 

I think this issue of, you know, DOD's not developing this capability.  There's a commercial market for it.  Of course, if we developed it, we wouldn't be able to sell on the commercial market, so I think we're trying to reverse it here and say this commercial market is going to help us take advantage of a capability that now that someone told us we might be able to do, that looks really interesting, and we'd like to be able to be ready for it.

The one piece on all of that is this issue of standards.  Now, you're going to have a standard way for these types of craft to interact and I think that would be pretty useful.  We don't want to pick winners, so I think ideally it would just be an open standard that then folks could use to make too.

Q:  And then, can you speak about any effects an ongoing CR might have on your area of work, if that's what are you tracking with that and what are your concerns if it goes past March?

DR. PLUMB:  I mean, in general, we need an appropriations bill.  And I just like CRs are very difficult to work with.  It would be better if the government operated with an appropriations bill for the year in which it requires them.

Q:  Yes, hi.  Just wanted to follow up on Starlink.  Just, does DOD — who has the actual contract with SpaceX to — for Starlink provision to Ukraine?  Is it DOD?  Is it USAID?  How much is it for?  Is it — is it an open-ended contract?  I mean -

DR. PLUMB:  Sorry Frank. You're beyond my — you're beyond my sphere of knowledge on that one.  I don't have acquisition authority.  I don't do contracts.  So, if I knew that it would be incidental to my job anyway.  Sorry.

Q:  Oh, that's okay.  Just, I wondered also if you could give us any insight on space-to-space radar, just in terms of what your — what your involvement has been.  How you think it's progressing so far in the collaboration between Space Force and (inaudible), and basically looks as if we're going to maybe see some mix if the program goes forward in air and space assets and what your insights are regarding that?

DR. PLUMB:  I am uncomfortable addressing that at the unclassified level.

Q:  Hi, thank you for doing this.  A few months back, the commander of the Army Space Missile Defense Command highlighted that you have been charged with the role of missile defeat policy in addition to missile defense, focusing on denying the capability left of launch before the need for warning and tracking.  Can you talk a little bit about how this policy is evolving?  What you're working on in this area?  And any need for a single integrator, such as maybe SPACECOM taking on this role?  Thanks.

DR. PLUMB:  Sure.  Thanks.  So, being charged with is a interesting way of putting it.  You know, the Missile — Space and Missile Defense Office we write — the Department, I guess, writes, I should say, a missile defense review roughly at the same pace as the nuclear posture reviews. 

And what this particular missile defense review found was that it's time to just stop thinking about the last part of the missile defense chain and look at missile defeat as a larger enterprise because, frankly, if you can stop a missile from being launched at you in the first place, you don't have to use an interceptor to shoot it down.  So, that is a policy change that has been coming for some time and I think just finally cementing it with this latest Missile Defense Review.

As far as a single integrator, the Unified Command Plan, UCP, has made Space Command in charge of trans-regional missile defense with the latest change, and so that is where I guess those discussions are being held.  From a missile-defense standpoint, I'm part of the Missile Defense Executive Board that is run here in the building by, I think it's — I think it's run by Bill LaPlante only, although I can never remember if Heidi Shyu also cochairs it.  But I will just say all of these elements come there.  We discuss them there and look for ways forward.  So it's it's built in.  I don't know if that's satisfactory, but that's where it stands.

Q:  OK, and if I could follow up on another policy-level question, the Department of the Air Force wants to shift moving target indication to Space in collaboration with the NRO.  Naturally, there's a kind of a difference in what the intel community wants versus what the defense community would want, Title 10 versus Title 50 data.  Can you talk about how you're setting this up policy-wise so the warfighter can get what its need — it needs while the intel community gets what it needs?

DR. PLUMB:  Yeah, I just told Frank Wolfe that I'm uncomfortable having this conversation on an unclassified level, so I'll just tell you that also.

Q:  Could I ask you to circle back and maybe give us a couple of firm examples?  You spoke about, you're worried about the pace and scale of Chinese counterspace capabilities.  Can you talk about that a little bit, so actually, what it means?

DR. PLUMB:  Sure, and let me — so let me clarify.  It's not just counter-space; it's also space, all right?  So roughly speaking, China has developed a wartime space architecture, and they have been developing it at a rapid pace.  They continue to launch multiple satellites with the express purpose of countering the United States of America's Joint Force, right?  So that is a problem for us that we have to be ready to deal with.  And so that is, frankly, one of the reasons that the Space Force was created, one of the reasons that Space Command was elevated, one of the reasons my position exists, is how do we get after this particular problem?

So the scale of that is one thing.  The scale and scope of the counterspace is a thing that we just are always tracking.  There are — and it's really good work done by the DIA in particular on putting out kind of unclassified assessments of, you know, China's space capability, Russia's space capability for the counterspace side, and that just continues to grow.  So we have to be aware — space is a warfighting domain.  It's a domain we absolutely need to rely on in order to do our missions as a U.S. military.  And so how are we going to both protect our ability to do that, and how are we going to protect the Joint Force from threats from space, or through space that the adversary poses?

Q:  And I suspect I know what the answer to this is, but what actually — can you give any examples of what actually changed as a result of your unclassification memo?

DR. PLUMB:  Declassification, not unclassification.  So re- — think of it as reducing classification.  In the fullness of time, hopefully not too much time, I believe various programs will come out of SAP and down to top secret, which will then enable better cross-communication with different warfighter IT architectures.

Q:  Could you say anything about how that sort of — at what point partners and allies could actually cooperate more seamlessly?

DR. PLUMB:  So that is really a separate effort that we are working on.  We're working on that, frankly, with Space Command and through our combined space operations initiative and our close allies and partners that are, you know, space-capable.  So we are working on that separately, and I say "separately" because it isn't dependent on this or any other document.  But the more things that can be shared with allies and partners, I think, the deeper that relationship could be, and that's not going to happen overnight, but I — you know, that is the path that hopefully, we have set ourselves on. Thank you.

STAFF:  That concludes our briefing. Any questions that weren't able to be asked, please see me. Thank you, everyone, for coming.