August 01, 2018

The US Military Should Not Be Doubling Down on Space

By Paul Scharre

Yes, a #SpaceForce is a dumb idea, but not because @realDonaldTrump said it. The U.S. military has real problems in space and a Space Force is likely to make them worse, not better.

Space is “congested, contested, and competitive” — as many have pointed out — and the U.S. advantages in space are waning. But responding by creating a Space Force is building a castle on a foundation of sand.

Space is an inherently vulnerable and offense-dominant domain. Satellites move through predictable orbits. There simply aren’t many good options for space hardening/defenses.

Defenders can add fuel to a satellite to make it mobile and move and change orbits, but more fuel adds weight and there is no easy way to refuel the satellite once in orbit. The same applies for defenses or armor. Defenders pay for all of that weight in launch costs. Defenders can make satellites stealthy-ish, but if even amateur observers can find secret military satellites, surely nation-state adversaries can. And even if satellites remain hidden, they’re still vulnerable to debris in low earth orbit, a growing problem that isn’t getting better.

The reality is that satellites are vulnerable to attack — through both kinetic and non-kinetic means from lasers, electronic warfare, and cyber — and there is no good way to fix this. America has built a military that is heavily dependent on a global C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] architecture that runs through space — the eyes and nervous system of the Joint Force. The United States was able to do this because for a long time no one contested the U.S. in space, but that era is over.


Read the Full Article at Defense One

Read CNAS Research Associate Adam Routh's Rebuttal: The U.S. Military Should Be Doubling Down on Space

  • Commentary
    • War on the Rocks
    • April 28, 2021
    Cyber Security Begins Abroad

    Working with foreign governments to make the internet a more secure place is not just a diplomatic opportunity. It should be a key national security priority....

    By Laura Bate, Natalie Thompson & Zoe Peach-Riley

  • Reports
    • April 28, 2021
    Principles for the Combat Employment of Weapon Systems with Autonomous Functionalities

    Introduction An international debate over lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been under way for nearly a decade.1 In 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued for...

    By Robert O. Work

  • Commentary
    • April 28, 2021
    Sharper: The Next 100 Days

    As the administration marks its 100th day in office, what lies ahead?...

    By Anna Pederson & Chris Estep

  • Podcast
    • April 26, 2021
    Artificial intelligence, coming to a battlefield near you ...

    In this fast take episode of Military Matters, Jack Murphy talks with Paul Scharre about how AI will affect the future of simulation training and beyond. Listen to the full c...

    By Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia