Transcript

Defense Official Briefs Defense Space Strategy to Reporters

June 17, 2020
Stephen L. Kitay, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy; Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland, Pentagon Spokesperson

STAFF: So ladies and gentlemen thank you for joining us today. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland and with us today is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, Steve Kitay. He'll be speaking to us today about the new Defense Space Strategy and then we'll open it up for your questions. So,32710327 DASD Kitay. 

STEPHEN L. KITAY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR SPACE POLICY: Thank you. I'm honored to be here with you all today to discuss some new Defense Space Strategy. It's an extremely exciting and important time for our nation's space program. I imagine many of you watched the recent NASA launch of a SpaceX rocket sending American astronauts to space from American soil for the first time in almost a decade and for the first time on a commercial rocket. I sat with my wife and my nine year old son and six year old daughter on that beautiful Saturday afternoon and we collectively held our breath as the rocket counted down the final 10 seconds. As I'm sure many people across the nation and the globe did the same. 

These moments are amazing, capturing the attention and imagination of people around the world. However, beyond these moments, what people may not realize is how dependent we are on space. Space is used for our day to day life. Not only as we navigate in our cars but for our global economy as well as our nation's security. So why should Americans care about space, because they depend on it. Not only do they depend on it, international peace and security depends on it. Our nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines depend on it. Now I wish I could say that space was a sea of tranquility and a sanctuary from attack. But the fact of the matter is, space is contested. 

Outer space has emerged as a key arena of potential conflict in an era of great power competition. China and Russia have weaponized space and turned it into a war fighting domain. Their actions pose the greatest strategic threat with the ongoing development, testing, and deployment of counter space systems and the associated military doctrine designed to hold allied and U.S. space systems at risk. But while there may be challenges in space, we also have unprecedented opportunities. We're at a moment of historic reform with tremendous visionary leaders in place from the president, to the vice president, to the Secretary of Defense, and a bipartisan Congress that has supported our National Security Space Program. 

We have stood up the United States Space Force as a new branch of the armed forces. The United States Space Command has a new combatant and command and undertaken significant acquisition reforms including the establishment of the Space Development Agency to accelerate the development and delivery of capabilities to our warfighters. I see this progress as gears of a powerful machine clicking into place. And very importantly, I'd like to highlight that we are not alone in our endeavors. Our space capable allies and partners, as well as a growing and innovative space industry, offer tremendous opportunities for cooperation. 

So what is our strategy? The Defense Space Strategy defines the strategic environment in the critical moment that we're at and in turn identifies the ends we're trying to achieve, the ways we are -- the ways we are going to achieve them, and the means to do so. The strategy is about ends, ways, and means. 

The Defense Space Strategy is designed to serve as the roadmap to advance our nation’s military space power by guiding the most significant transformation in the history of the National Security Space Program. This is an enterprise-wide transformation from approaching space as a support function, to approaching space as a warfighting domain in which we are postured to compete, deter, and win. The Defense Space Strategy provides strategic direction for department-wide changes to policies, doctrine, capabilities, operations and partnerships to ensure U.S. space superiority to secure our nation's vital interests in space. Our desired conditions are a secure, stable, and accessible space domain. The strategy outlines the following key strategic objectives for the department. 

First, maintain space superiority. The DOD will preserve freedom of operations in the domain and we will be prepared to protect and defend our interests from the hostile use of space. 

Second, provide space support in national, joint and combined operations. We use space to improve life here on Earth and the DOD will continue to provide critical space capabilities to the joint and combined force. 

Third, ensure space superiority -- stability. Our focus is to deter aggression and to maintain a safe and sustainable space environment. The DOD will be a good steward of the domain. 

We will achieve these objectives through a phased approach moving with purpose and speed across four lines of effort. Build, integrate, shape and cooperate. 

Line of effort one, build. Build a comprehensive military advantage in space. We will build out the Space Force developing the doctrine, expertise, culture, and capabilities needed to outpace future threats. This includes building space intelligence and command and control. 

Line of effort two, integrate. Integrate military space power into national, joint, and combined operations. U.S. Space Command has a lead role here in ensuring space power is integrated with all forms of military power and that we have the necessary planning, exercises, and authorities in place to protect and defend our nation's interests. 

Line of effort three, shape. Shape the strategic environment. As we work to deter those who seek to attack us in space we want to enhance stability in the domain. We have to work internationally to develop standards of behavior of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable actions. 

Line of effort four, cooperate. Cooperate with allies, partners, industry, and other U.S. government departments and agencies. Partnerships are key to the success of a strategic approach. 

In summary, the Defense Space Strategy lays out a path that embraces space as a unique domain of national military power and, together with other domains, underpins joint and combined operations to advance national security. The unclassified summary of the strategy is provided and fact sheets are online and we'll be working with our closest allies and partners on further classified elements. Thank you for you time today and I'm happy to address any questions. 

STAFF: OK. We'll start with Sylvie with AP – AFP, excuse me.

Q: You know, thank you. I have a question about the allies. Aren't -- aren't you concerned that your quest to cooperate with allies in space could be jeopardized by the -- President Trump's will to withdraw from many important, international disarmament treaties? 

DASD KITAY: Well, what I'd say from a -- alliance perspective is our allies have had strong interests in cooperating with the United States in space and what's interesting is they are at a similar moment as we are at in space, where there's a recognition of the criticality of the domain as well as the threats that we're facing. So they are looking to enhance those partnerships. For instance, NATO recently declared space an operational domain. They're recognizing the threats to our interests. We're also working in what we call the Combined Space Operations Initiative, CSPO. 

And this is a partnership that we have with our Five Eyes nations, which is an intelligence partnership which includes the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. And France and Germany have recently come on board with CSPO. So -- so I would say that -- that the opportunities for partnership are high. We're getting a strong demand signal from them. We're working with a number of other countries such as Japan on their efforts and we look forward to deepening that cooperation. 

Q: Aren't -- aren't you concerned that there can be a difference in the --in the defining norms of behavior, for an example, in space? 

DASD KITAY: Well, I would say in -- in my experience, often with any group of people, whether it's -- it's in the department, in the interagency, internationally, people have different perspectives and the important element is you work through them. You have conversations. So in defining norms of responsible behavior in space, there have been various activities that go on in international fora, for instance, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, where there was recently agreement on long-term sustainability guidelines. 

And there's -- there's other efforts then below that where we're working closely with our allies and then here in the building and with the interagency to build upon the work that's been done on norms of responsible behavior in space. So, I wouldn't say it's going to be without disagreement but I am confident that we are going to be able to make progress in this area. This is something that happens in every other domain and we've been able to figure it out and I think in space we will be able to do the same. 

STAFF: All right. Thank you. We'll go to David Martin in the room.

Q: This fact sheet says China and Russia have weaponized space. Exactly how have they weaponized space? 

DASD KITAY: Yes. So, thank you for that question. I refer you to two reports that were put out there by the intelligence community early last year. The DIA report Challenges to Security in Space says that China and Russia are developing jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based anti-satellite missiles that can achieve a range of reversible and irreversible effects. The -- this document the DIA report as well as the unclassified NASIC report Competing in Space, taken together have over 60 pages of information on threats, including capabilities, doctrine, and organizations. And these documents will tell you that China and Russia are developing and planning to use capabilities that threaten our space systems and those of our allies. 

Now since last year, when those were put out early last year, China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities which pose unprecedented new dangers to U.S. and allied space systems. Earlier this year, General Raymond highlighted the concerning behavior of two new Russian satellites which bare distinct similarities to other Russian satellites that launched a high-speed projectile in 2017. Also consistent with the guidance in the Defense Space Strategy is to inform the public and the international community about these threats and we are continuing to regularly review the information so we can share more about Chinese and Russian space activities to enable that more fulsome conversation on their weaponization of space. 

Q: So you just, in quoting from those documents and from General Raymond. Did you just say that -- that China and Russia have put weapons in space?

DASD KITAY: I said what I said, quoting from the intelligence community as well as when the State Department talked about the activities in 2017. They highlighted it in 2018 and it is clear that they have weaponized space. 

Q: Well you said that a Russian satellite had fired a high-speed projectile? 

DASD KITAY: In 2017, what happened and what was discussed and -- and this is all in public record, the State Department actually brought it up in the United Nations. There was an Assistant Secretary who spoke about it then. There was a main satellite. Out of that satellite, Russian satellite, a smaller satellite was birthed from that main satellite. From that smaller satellite, a projectile was launched from that Russian satellite. So a third item came out. They said that this was an inspector satellite. What the State Department official noted at that time is the behavior of that satellite looked nothing like an inspector satellite and looked like something much more concerning. 

Q: They said that the satellite that fired the high – high-speed projectile was an inspector satellite. What was the projectile? 

DASD KITAY: So the -- the projectile was some object in space that did -- was -- was launched -- you had the main one, then the second one came out of it. And then out of the second one, the projectile came out of it. That went into space and has not been moving since. It went out and fired and has not been maneuvering or -- or giving any indication of what you would think an inspector satellite would look like. 

Q: The third object, the inspector satellite?

DASD KITAY: It’s the third one. Yes. That's exactly -- I don't know if they specified the whole system or down to the third one. They -- they -- they -- I'd -- I'd have to go back and look at that but -- but I believe that they calling that an inspector system, but that system with these three objects that came out of it, certainly did not look like it. And what General Raymond highlighted earlier this year is a system that looks just like that one is -- they had the main one and then they had the second one. And what was different and what he highlighted earlier this year is they were then doing testing near a U.S. government satellite. It hadn't -- nothing came out of it, further. It's unclear if -- if something will or -- or what they're doing but he was concerned with that activity and he talked about it publicly and there were also bilateral discussions with the Russians on that.

Q: So just to be clear so that what -- what -- this second one that you're talking about that operated close to a --

DASD KITAY: Yes. 

Q: -- U.S. satellite, that was another main satellite?

DASD KITAY: Yes. 

Q: Just put out a smaller satellite craft which has not yet put out that third object. 

DASD KITAY: Absolutely correct. But it was near a U.S. government satellite and that was of concern. 

STAFF: Thank you, David. We'll go to the phone lines real quick. Sandra Erwin with Space News. 

Q: Thank you very much. Mr. Kitay, thank you for doing this briefing. I wanted to ask you about the resources in DOD to accomplish this strategy. Do you envision that this is going to be done within existing resources or will you be asking for additional resources and have you had conversations with the Air Force and the Space Force on their budget priorities to-- to align with a strategy? Thank you. 

DASD KITAY: So -- so the FY 21 budget which is now up on the Hill and being debated and the department already purposed had $18 billion for the -- the department space program not including the National Reconnaissance Office. About $15-$16 billion of that was within the United States Space Force. That was a very significant budget to fully resource the Space Force. I can't speak to the FY 22 budget yet, but we are in deliberations on that budget right now within the Department of Defense and how that process works is the Space Force brings that proposal of what they think the necessary funding should be. 

And as you stated to include funding, the execution of this strategy, and they bring it to the Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Air Force reviews it and brings it to the Secretary of Defense. Of which the office of the Secretary of Defense reviews it and provides feedback and the Secretary of Defense then sends it to the president and the Office of Management and Budget reviews it before it's sent to Capitol Hill, which will all lead up to next February. 

STAFF: OK. We'll come back in the room to Jeff Schogol. 

Q: Thank you. On page 10 of the Space Strategy there was a diagram that said counter space continuum and at the very end it said, nuclear detonation in space. And I'm wondering if you could clarify who would detonate a nuclear weapon in space and why? 

DASD KITAY: Yes. So -- so that short hand is called NUDET, Nuclear Detection -- Detection -- Detonation -- Nuclear Detonation in Space and we do have capabilities called NUDET which detect those sorts of events. In fact, we have those sorts of detection systems on satellites in space today. That has been a concern actually and a threat going back to even the Cold War and the -- the challenge of a nuclear detonation is it creates an electromagnetic pulse and a signal that then could take out indiscriminately many satellites in space and essentially fry the electronics. So that is a very serious threat and we ensure that we're prepared for it. Now, that -- that goes on a continuum of -- of a range of threats that we have to prepared for potential adversaries to employ. 

Q: Well correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think any satellites are hardened or protected against this kind of EMP. So what can you realistically do? 

DASD KITAY: So, I'm not going to get into the details of it but we do have systems that are assured to various threats to include the necessary hardening against threats such as this. And if you look at our space -- our overall space constellations, we have a variety of systems that range from Nuclear Command and Control and missile warning capabilities that we are going to need assure those capabilities all the way from peace time to low end conflict all the way through potentially a nuclear conflict. There's other systems that -- that we would accept some sort of degraded service depending on the needs of the warfighter. So it all comes down to warfighter requirements to meet the missions through the various phases of conflict. 

Q: Would it be accurate to say the United States is concerned that Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran could detonate a nuclear weapon in space that would blind its satellites? 

DASD KITAY: That is a threat that we have to potentially be prepared for, is a nuclear detonation in space. 

STAFF: OK. We'll go back to the phone lines. We'll go to Abraham Mahshie with Washington Examiner. 

Q: Yes. Thank you for taking my question. So you've -- you've mentioned a little bit about, of course, China and Russia weaponizing space and you talked about hardening satellites. But what about our own weapons in space? Can you comment at all what we currently have and what we are working on? Thank you.

DASD KITAY: So, I'm not going to speak to specifics systems here today but our policy and strategy recognizes the multitude of anti-satellite developments of our competitors. And we emphasize space mission assurance and resilience, deterring aggression against -- against the United States to include against our space systems and those of our allies and partners. And -- and the capability, warfighting capability to protect and defend our vital interests. 

The United States is addressing its security needs consistent with its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and other relevant international and national law. And with China and Russia both actively developing capabilities to negate U.S. allied and partnered space systems, we are left with no choice but to ensure we are prepared with the necessary means to protect and defend ourselves from attacks to our systems whether they be in space, on the ground or any other domain.

STAFF: OK. We'll stay on the phone lines for one more with Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg. 

Q: (audio gap) such technologies for the future? 

STAFF: Sorry was that Tony?

Q: No. 

STAFF: Go ahead Tony. 

Q: Can I get a question or are you --

STAFF: Yes. Go ahead Tony.

Q: Look, I want to follow up on this one. The United States is developing the Meadowlands Counter Jamming System. They want to buy like 48 of them over the next six years. Where does this system play in terms of the strategy? Is this an example of developing systems to deny the hostile use of space? 

DASD KITAY: So, I'm not going to speak to specific systems but line of effort one, speaks to building a comprehensive military advantage in space. And one of the key aspects I'd really like to emphasize is that we're not just thinking about satellites or ground systems. We are thinking about the entire organize, train, and equip cycle and line of effort one is really focused on building, not only the capabilities such as satellites, ground systems, but also developing the people and expertise and doctrine for this warfighting domain. And that's really, when you think about the change and really what -- what is in this strategy is this fundamental change to how we're approaching space. And it's not just thinking as space as a support function where we put up satellites. They're always going to be there for us and -- and they'll provide the capabilities we need in peacetime and crisis and conflict. 

This is thinking about it like our military forces do in other domains where we are prepared. We are ready. We are thinking about how we can compete, deter and win in the domain and that gets to the fundamental importance of establishing a Space Force. Of a group of people who are focused on this domain and it's not only focused on the unique elements of the domain and the expertise on it but also just as importantly is focused on integrating space into the joint force and providing those capabilities to the warfighter throughout the conflict. 

Q: You mention capabilities, you've spent a lot of time talking, rehashing the Russian capabilities out there which is important but the public needs to know the United States isn't helpless. 

DASD KITAY: Yes, and as I said I'm not going to speak to specific systems. We absolutely, I mean, this -- this is a strategy to ensure that we are ready for these threats that we are facing in the domain. And there are a variety of ways to do that and this goes to the whole mission assurance framework where we're able to assure our systems which has elements of resilience. It has elements of defensive measures and has elements of even think about reconstituting in a conflict. So there's a variety of ways to do this. 

We have to think about our entire approach and this is really what the Space Force as well as the Space Development Agency which has a new approach to how we're looking at -- at our space architectures which is really complimentary to the Space Force activities. But at the right point in the future, will merge into the U.S. Space Force. 

STAFF: OK. We'll come back into the room now. Ma'am. 

Q: Thank you. You said Japan also in cooperation with space development. Can you tell how the participation Japanese development in space or you also have the other countries involved, like South Korea? 

DASD KITAY: Well, Japan has been a very close ally and growing ally in our space program. In fact, I've been there multiple times in this job and I'd highlight a couple of areas that we're working really closely with them. Is -- one is they have a system that they are putting into space called QZSS. It's essentially their version of a global positioning system for their national needs to provide position, navigation and timing nationally for the Japanese in that region. And what we're doing is we're putting a hosted payload, a space situational awareness payload on the Japanese satellite in the form of developing our partnership deeper with our cooperation with our architectural satellite systems. 

They are also -- they'll send people to the United States to go through training to further develop their workforce and I'd -- I'd end by mentioning that they recently stood up a new space focused military unit and -- and we're very supportive of that. Their activities and their further development because they recognize as – as I mentioned earlier – as many of our nations are recognizing just how critical space is and how threatened it is. So we as nations have to be prepared for this strategic environment that we find ourselves in. 

Q: Thank you. 

STAFF: OK. One more in the room. 

Q: Our -- is -- is an offensive capability in space part of the strategy here or, you know, is it simply -- or is it more -- we still look at mainly defensive? I mean, are you -- if the Russians have a satellite that can shoot projectiles. Is that going to be part of our future? 

DASD KITAY: I'd go back to -- I'd -- I'd encourage you to read the details of the strategy which you talk about and I'm not going to talk about specific systems here today but what it emphasizes that -- is that we are going to have space -- we need to maintain our space superiority which includes having the freedom of operation in the domain, assuring these capabilities to our warfighters throughout the conflict and being able to protect and defend against hostile space activities to our interests for other nation's interests. There's a lot of ways to look at this and I just mention briefly as you're thinking about space, there're -- there is three if not four components to think about very often. 

There's the satellites themselves. There's the ground station that's commanding and controlling it and doing the processing. There's the link in between which is sending signals to space and in certain systems you'll have a user terminal such as a GPS terminal that's getting the signals or communications device. So as we're thinking about conflict, we think about all of these elements of – of the space systems and how we're going to approach space warfighting. 

STAFF: We have time for one more question on the phone with Dan Boyce with Colorado Public Radio. 

Q: Thank you Deputy Assistant Secretary. Looking at the line here in the executive summary, it says that -- we're talking about China and Russia here that they have capabilities specifically designed to contest or deny U.S. access to and operations in the domain. Can you address more to what it means -- what you mean by access to the domain? The operations part I think I understand but does that mean, sort of, preventing a satellite from launching into space or even say the, you know, the civilian space industry or scientific component of our space endeavors? Could you just talk a little bit more about that? 

DASD KITAY: So when -- when thinking about access to, one way to think about it is launch systems. So yes, theoretically you -- you could use some sort of system to take our -- our launch sites which would be one reason to be thinking about ensuring we have the necessary resiliency in our overall launch program. But another way in thinking about access to is -- goes -- goes back to that previous statement I was making about thinking about components of a space system. So “access to” includes the link in between so when you have a ground system that's communicating to a satellite system access to is actually those communications in between. 

So if they are preventing our access to our space systems, to include those communications, we have to be ready for, for instance those – those sorts of methods to -- to deny us the use of space. So said another way, if they're going to jam our space systems then -- then that is going to be something that we're -- we're going to have to be ready to deal with those sorts of threats. 

STAFF: And we'll go last question to Mosheh here in the room. 

Q: Thank you. Thank you for joining us. And just given what you said about the posture of the U.S. and -- and -- and China, Russia and just kind of a basic question. How vulnerable do you think the U.S. is against an -- an attack by say Russia or China in space? 

DASD KITAY: Well, I would say that we -- we are still ahead of them but our -- we -- we are absolutely at risk with the pace that they're developing these capabilities. And these are very serious threats and you can see in the strategy itself it -- it talks about the central problem. The U.S. space enterprise was not built for the current strategic environment and that really gets to this thought of the enterprise that we've created in the past which was this support function. We're just going to launch these satellites and they're going to be there for us and we're not -- we're not fully steeped in the whole element of building our forces as well as employing our forces for a conflict to extend into the domain. 

So -- so that's this transformation that's happening right now. And we have this unique -- unique moment right now where we are standing up the Space Force. We're standing up the Space Command, the Space Development Agency, standing up our national leadership. And when I say national leadership I mean both in the Executive branch and the Legislative branch has significant alignment in addressing these challenges and ensuring that we're postured to protect and defend our interests in space. That -- that -- that's what -- that's what this is about, ensuring we are ready to do that and maintain that lead. 

STAFF: Thank you everybody for coming today. If you have any follow up questions, you know where to find me on the desk.