The U.S. Space Force is developing a strategy to reduce the classification of information on military space systems to aid deterrence of potential adversaries and better integration of such systems with those of U.S. allies and industry partners, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond said on March 3.
“The main mission of the United Space Force is to deter conflict from beginning or extending into space, and I’m convinced that if you want to change the deterrence calculus of an adversary, you have to be able to communicate,” he told a National Press Club virtual audience. “If you have everything classified, that really erodes your ability to deter conflict.”
Reducing classification also helps in the integration of U.S. military forces with allied militaries, Raymond said.
In January last year, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. John Hyten called the overclassification of Pentagon information “unbelievably ridiculous”–comments that followed former Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett telling the Reagan National Defense Forum that she intended to work on declassifying space programs (Defense Daily, Jan 29, 2020). Hyten said that he was looking for “significant improvement” in loosening classification standards so that DoD officials could more clearly communicate with subordinates within the department, as well as the public and industry partners.
U.S. Air Force and Space Force officials have also said that overclassification of information on military space systems has been a prominent challenge in the effort by the Air Force and its AFWERX innovation arm to lure more non-traditional firms into the military space business (Defense Daily, Sept. 29, 2020).
“We’re developing a strategy,” Raymond said on March 3 of the military space de-classification effort. “You don’t want to just make decisions one piece at a time. You’d like to have an overarching strategy that helps guide those decisions. There’s been a lot of work to develop that strategy. We work very closely with the acquisition community to allow some more access to commercial industry to allow them to integrate more effectively with us as well.”
“You’ll see us, as we develop new programs and review older programs, review them with a lens of deterrence and a lens of integration so you’ll see us continue to make classification decisions that will enable that deterrence and that integration,” he said.
The overclassification of space systems helped motivate researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to write a new, open source-based report, Defense Against the Dark Arts in Space: Protecting Space Systems from Counterspace Weapons, that lays out active and passive options for defending U.S. space systems.