Guetlein: better space domain awareness essential for national security

WAILEA, Hawaii — Because space is critical to military operations, better understanding objects in orbit and the threats they can pose is “fundamental” to space security, a Space Force general has said.

Speaking at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) conference here Sept. 28, Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein, commander of Space Systems Command, said warfighters recognized they needed of space assets to carry out their missions, it is incumbent on the service to better monitor potential threats to these assets.

“I’ll tell you for the first time in my career,” he said, “the joint fighter has realized that he can’t win without space.”

Space provides the “overshoot” needed for military forces to succeed, he said. “Our transcendence in space is at the heart of space security, which begins with space domain awareness. Space domain awareness is fundamental to our operations and provides the United States and its partners with a continued advantage. »

Guetlein argued that this requires improving those abilities. “The days when we only focused on maintaining the spatial catalog of the knowns are over,” he said. “Not only are we focusing on what we know exists, but we are looking for new objects. We identify where these objects come from, why they are there and what their intentions are. He added that it also means “being able to defend against these objects if necessary”.

He underscored the need to improve cooperation with industry, academia and international partners, which involves overcoming traditional barriers to sharing space domain awareness information. “We need to lower the classification level” of this data which has traditionally been highly classified. “All we do is hide from ourselves. We need to start having critical conversations and open dialogue.

These efforts take on new urgency given the growing capabilities of China and Russia to attack satellites. “I wish I could come here and say the threat is getting better. But the threat is only getting worse,” he said. He was particularly concerned about China, saying the demographic and economic challenges facing the China would face in the coming years could create a “bond of ambition and desperation” that could lead to a conflict that would span space.

“In order to deter the threat, we have to have an overmatch. Today I can stand here and tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have an overtake,” he said. “But the threat is determined to change that status quo.”

Guetlein, however, balanced that concern with optimism about the “unprecedented level of unity of effort” within the Department of Defense and the intelligence community to meet challenges from acquisition to improvement. relationships with industry.

“We’ve seen the space become even more crowded and contested. And at first, I’ll tell you, we as a nation were slow to respond. We were distracted by what was happening in the Middle East,” he said. “But I’m proud to tell you that we are seeing a strategic shift across the landscape of DoD, IC, and our international partners, and our focus is on countering this growing threat.”