Squaring the circle: the new National Security Space Strategy

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: ,

NSSS Cover

You could argue the new National Security Space Strategy (NSSS) is not national (it is international) and that it is not a strategy (it does not link ways and means with policy objectives).  So what is it? 

Largely, the NSSS reads like a to-do list.  By my count, the phrase “we will” appears 60 times (to include twice quoted text from the National Space Policy and “we will continue to” which appears eight times).  Certainly the NSSS has the goal of enhancing security and yes, it is seems to generally be about space, but how does it hold up as strategy?

Consider if these might be viewed as weaknesses in the NSSS.

How do you reconcile these objectives

1. Strengthen safety, stability, and security in space

2. ‘Energize’ the space industrial base that supports U.S. national security

3. Maintain and even enhance the national security advantages the U.S. gets from space-delivered capabilities

even as you acknowledge

1. Space is congested with space debris and radiofrequency interference

2. Space is contested: adversaries and potential adversaries can and do hold space resources at risk and interfere with space-delivered capabilities

3. The space economy and space commerce are globalized (so to speak) and highly competitive?

Given these objectives and conditions, what ways and means will be applied differently as a result of this NSSS?

Similarly, how to we

1. Prepare to defeat attacks on space resources and to operate in a degraded space environment even as we

2. Reassure other actors of U.S. intentions to act responsibly, peacefully, and safely in space?

As shown above, the squaring the NSSS circle reflects the impossibility/mutually exclusive challenge of reconciling the space context, conditions, goals, and objectives provided in the NSSS.  Essentially, the NSSS is a manifestation of cognitive dissonance; a call for space idealism which can only occur if the world treats space as a sanctuary, something it has never done and is unlikely to ever do.

Also, do many of these “we wills” mean “we currently aren’t”?  And if we aren’t currently doing some, many, or even all of the “we wills” (and given a more resource constrained environment), will the U.S. stop doing some things in space in order to start doing the “we wills”?  

Regardless, great effort and resources will be pushed towards two of the many “we wills” from the NSSS, in particular:

1. Towards codes and international agreements that will be more restrictive than those that are from (but are often ignored) the Outer Space Treaty.

2. Towards U.S. provided/funded space situational awareness which will become the next GPS: all things to all peoples at all times.

Although the NSSS does not broach the subject, one way to address the plethora of “we wills” would be to look at a Space Corps, or even a separate space service.  Another option would be to combine all government space (intelligence community, defense, and civil) under one USG roof.

Policies and strategies can be important but are often overrated: watch what gets funded and not just what gets said.



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