May 10, 2024

New CNAS Report Assesses U.S. Space Force Successes and Persistent Challenges

Washington, May 10, 2024 — Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, Space to Grow: Foundational Opportunities and Challenges for the U.S. Space Force, by Hannah Dennis, research associate with the CNAS Defense Program. The report analyzes the development of the Space Force’s service culture over its first three years, drawing on interviews from service members at all levels of the organization.

In the year and a half since this research concluded, the Space Force has made progress in addressing some of the challenges highlighted in this report. However, some of these challenges are inherent to the space domain and will persist indefinitely or will take years to fully overcome.

In December 2019, Congress established the Space Force, the first new military service in almost 75 years, in recognition of the increasing importance and vulnerability of the space domain. The Space Force and its members, called guardians, soon became the subject of confusion and occasionally derision, a condition the service has struggled to remedy.

“While Americans had a basic understanding of the air, ground, and sea domains at the time of the other services’ creation, most do not currently understand the value of the space domain, either in their daily lives or in modern warfare,” the author writes.

The report assesses the Space Force’s efforts to articulate to the nation its strategic purpose and to build a service culture consistent with that purpose. Dennis makes several recommendations to the Space Force, including:

• The Space Force should clarify the meaning of the warfighter label to promote a common understanding throughout the service;

• The Space Force should lower classification barriers, where possible, to improve public understanding of the service and its missions. Space Force leaders must be bold and find places where they can publicize successes and explain requirements without compromising security;

• Guardians should learn and retell military space history and capitalize on current events to teach the public about the importance of this hard-to-grasp domain; and

• Guardians should steer clear of public relations distractions. Many Space Force headlines have captured public attention but failed to educate.

The report’s recommendations aim to strengthen the Space Force’s strategic concept, bolster its deterrence potential, and solidify its role in the joint force.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Hannah Dennis, please contact Alexa Whaley at


Space to Grow

Executive Summary In the more than 50 years since the first satellite launch, space has become irrevocably intertwined with the American way of life and the American way of wa...

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