US adopts new defense space strategy

Sunday June 28 2020

 

By Vladimir Kozin

On June 17, 2020 American Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper publicly outlined the key provisions of the United States Defense Space Strategy, with its exposed and non-public parts.

The ten-page summary of the new strategy, as well as a specially prepared reference for free access, once again proclaims the United States' superiority and dominance in space.

As before, this strategy affirms previous statements by top American military and political leadership that outer space is a realm of "military operations", as well as a unique area of military force employment.

 The document outlines ways to strengthen American space power to prove able to compete, contain, and win as regards this "complex security environment" with "competition between great powers."

The new strategy was announced to operate for the next decade.

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The Defense Space Strategy is the next step to ensure America's space superiority and protect its vital interests in outer space now and in the future, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said. He also announced the United States would implement changes in policy, strategy, business activities, investment and capabilities, as well as when preparing space-related expert studies.

The Pentagon head said that the Ministry of Defense will develop four priority areas for space activity to achieve the stated goals while simultaneously countering the identified threats, capabilities and challenges: 1) ensuring comprehensive military dominance in space; 2) integrating military space power into national, joint, and integrated combat operations; 3) creating a strategic environment; and 4) developing cooperation with allies, partners, the military-industrial complex, and other US departments and agencies.

The declared American military dominance in space is expected to be achieved by reforming relevant command and control, strike and combat, information and intelligence, and military-technical means; building a stable space infrastructure; creating a capacity to counter the hostile use of space, as well as developing "space power" doctrines and operational concepts adequate to specific "hostile threats". The Pentagon will also develop flexible space structures able to take advantage of technological and commercial innovations in order to constantly fend off the threats indicated.

Dominance in outer space will also be achieved by conducting combat operations in space orbits, in multi-layer and inter-component outer space as a whole. Those will be fully integrated with activities by American allies and partners. A long-term strategic goal has been set as to contain "hostile aggression" against the space potential of the United States, its allies and partners, as well as American commercial interests.

A special fact-based report issued by the Pentagon on the issue claims that China and Russia have placed weapons in space and turned it into a war zone. They are accused of creating "the greatest strategic threat" over the development, testing and deployment of "anti-space capabilities" involving their use in conflicts that they spread to space, which is said to be supported by their military doctrines.

Thus, the new military-strategic narrative "of June 17" completes the conceptual design of US Space Forces and features of force initiation in outer space, which President Donald Trump personally took pains to create. The Defense Space Strategy is seamlessly linked to previously adopted major national military-strategic narratives: national security and national defense, with nuclear and anti-missile strategies, as well as Donald Trump's presidential space policy directives.

Although, according to international law, outer space belongs to all mankind and should be used solely for peaceful purposes, it is strange that documents in question contain statements like "More than any other nation, the United States relies on space-based capabilities to project and employ power on a global scale." Washington's claim to a space monopoly is there for all to see, even by ignoring the interests of its NATO allies, despite the stated readiness to interact with them in this area.

The American Space Strategy's statement that Moscow and Beijing have some kind of military doctrines involving the use of force in outer space is a distortion of reality. There are no provisions to this effect there. On the contrary, the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China have long been cosponsors of a draft international treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space, which the United States not only shies away from, but creates all kind of contrived obstacles to its adoption.

Moreover, since the "space age" was proclaimed in 1957 after the first artificial earth satellite was launched by the USSR, all subsequent American administrations had blocked about twenty different foreign policy initiatives put forward first by the Soviet Union, and then by Russia, which called for abandoning the idea of militarizing outer space, using force and deploying space weapons there, and more recently, deploying strike missile protection systems as well.

Although the new American space strategy's summary released on June 17 has the word "defense" in its title, it cannot be qualified as such. Given its key provisions, this is an aggressive military-political narrative with huge negative strategic consequences for the whole world, because it contains an outspoken application for a monopolistic dominance in outer space, stipulates their expanded shock military activity and frames a brand new type of an arms race – a race of space strike weapons.