Space policy official details approach to maintaining U.S. edge

  • Published
  • By Joseph Clark
  • DOD News

The Defense Department is laser-focused on deterring aggression through critical investments and sound decisions that will shape U.S. and allied space capabilities for years to come, the Pentagon's top space policy official said.

John F. Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, underscored the critical role DOD's space enterprise will play in meeting the nation's top national security priorities during a briefing at the Pentagon on Jan. 17.  

The Priorities
Defending the homeland with China as the United States' pacing challenge.
Deterring strategic attacks against the U.S. and its allies and partners.
Deterring aggression while being prepared to prevail if conflict is necessary.
Building a resilient joint force

"My offices support every one of these priorities in multiple ways," Plumb said. "And my team has helped shape policy and investments that result from that policy to maintain our U.S. military's military and technological edge." 

He added that across his portfolio, the U.S. is strengthening its cooperation with allies and partners in space, building "an asymmetric advantage and force multiplier that neither China nor Russia could ever hope to match."

That same spirit of cooperation is also applied in shaping cooperation across the services, he said, adding that strong relationships "are essential to navigating the emerging security environment." 

Plumb said guiding that cooperation and those policy decisions, is a focus on three specific priorities: space control, space cooperation and reducing space overclassification.  

Space control encompasses U.S. efforts to defend its national security interests in space and defend the joint force from space-enabled attacks.

Through space cooperation, the U.S. seeks to achieve combined operations with allies. 

The initiative began to take shape in a 2014 memorandum of understanding among four nations: the U.S., Australia, Canada and the U.K. The group later expanded to include New Zealand, France and Germany, reaching a total of seven members in 2019.

This year, the combined operations initiative expanded again to include Italy, Japan and Norway. 

The last line of effort — reducing space overclassification — encompasses efforts to ensure information and technology are classified at the appropriate levels to ensure the U.S. is postured to cooperate with allies and engage private sector partners.  

Plumb emphasized that space policy and investments have a broad impact in shaping not only warfare in the space domain but are also critical for nuclear deterrence and in shaping the future of U.S. cyber capabilities.  

"It's a big portfolio," Plumb said, adding that space policy is gaining in visibility and interest at the highest levels of government.

"I expect that trend to continue," he said. "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 that we're doing to advance integrated deterrence and ensure we're ready for the challenges of the next decade and beyond."