By Theresa Hitchens on November 18, 2019 at 4:13 PM
Gen. Jay Raymond, Commander, Space Command
WASHINGTON: Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Space Command, is urging NATO allies to move beyond traditional information sharing to providing capabilities together with the United States for joint space operations.
“I really would like to get these partnership to be more than just data sharing partnerships and really move towards mission sharing,” Raymond told the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) today. “We’re stronger together,” he added.
While the term ‘mission sharing’ isn’t really a defined term, Raymond did say this: “So, for example – well, I talked about hosted payloads on satellites. We have other satellites that feed information into our situational awareness catalogue. …We have partnerships in communications systems. So, I think there’s great opportunity here to develop capabilities that will be mutually beneficial for all of our countries.”
Currently, US space cooperation with NATO allies is largely centered around sharing space situational awareness (SSA) data, as well as coordination functions such as allowing mutual access to data from Europe’s Galileo and the US Global Positioning System’s positioning, navigation and timing satellites. On the US side, that cooperation now is led by SPACECOM’s new Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) under SPACECOM at Vandenberg AFB, headed by Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Whiting. CFSCC since August has oversight of the Combined Space Operations Center that coordinates US, ally and partner countries, civil agencies, and industry satellite activities to ensure safety.
As reported by colleague Rachel Cohen, Whiting told the Mitchell Institute on Nov. 15 that CFSCC is making a “deliberate effort to widen our support to international, interagency, and commercial partners.” He added that, “If these critical partners do not have freedom of action in space, then we have not achieved space superiority.”
Indeed, Raymond spent five days in mid-October in Europe explaining the new US approach to military space — including the stand up of SPACECOM and President Donald Trump’s desired creation of a Space Force — and to engage allies. This included attending the Oct. 14 meeting of NATO’s Military Committee; the first meeting of NATO military leaders since the alliance agreed its first-ever NATO Space Policy (not made public at this point) in June.
The alliance is set to declare space a domain of NATO operations at its summit meeting in December in London, Raymond noted.
However, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained in a speech in August, at the moment the policy is only a framework document that remains to be fleshed out over time. This is in large part because the 29 NATO members continue to disagree about the role of space assets in military operations, Indeed, with the exception of France and the United Kingdom, many European countries either are deeply uncomfortable with, or downright opposed to, the development and use of weapons in space.
Germany’s SAR-Lupe radar imaging satellite
For example, Germany’s public and coalition government is strongly opposed to the idea of being involved in any offensive actions in space, one German political source told Breaking D. Thus, Berlin has been reluctant even to allow data from its military surveillance satellites, the SAR-Lupe synthetic aperture radar constellation, to be used by other European countries.
Because of that public distaste for warfare in space, Stoltenberg and other top NATO officials consistently stress that in NATO’s view the new policy is, as Stoltenberg said in August, “not about militarisation of space.” Rather, he said, it was about protecting NATO’s ability to communicate via satellites. “What’s happening in space is extremely important for what’s going on on earth,” he said. “Tracking forces, early warning of missile attacks, all kinds of communications, surveillance, all that, navigation, GPS, all of that is dependent on space capabilities.”
This sentiment was echoed by US Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Kindsvater, the deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence at SHAPE, who served as deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee at the October meeting.
“NATO doesn’t want to militarize space,” he told the October meeting according to a NATO press release. “This is about playing an important role as a forum to share information, increase interoperability, and ensure that our missions and operations can call on the support they need, even in space”.
This runs directly counter to US policy and strategy, that has deemed space not just a domain of operations but a “warfighting” domain, that as Raymond explained today. Space Command, Raymond said bluntly today, has “an offensive and defensive mission.” As Breaking D readers know, Raymond’s view is that a strong offensive capability is critical to maintaining deterrence in space. Raymond, who also serves as head of Air Force Space Command, further ha
Indeed, allied military leaders meeting with Raymond in October were unanimous in expressing their desires for the development of norms of behavior in space as a top priority, one Air Force official told Breaking D today. “They want to take the lead on that,” he added.
The German source agreed that European countries are united in their desire to work out international norms that would constrain irresponsible activities in space by all spacefaring powers, including Russia, China and the United States.
For example, European countries have pushed strongly for norms that would deem the creation of large amounts of dangerous space debris as verboten. That would include a norm that would forbid including via the use of kinetic energy anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons such as those tested up to now by China, India, Russian and the United States.
The Obama Administration was vocal in opposing debris-creating ASATs — a position still supported by Gen. John Hyten, now vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Trump White House, by contrast, moved to silence NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine after he publicly objected to India’s March debris-creating anti-satellite weapons test.
A previous effort by the European Union to entice non-EU countries to join an International Code of Conduct on outer space launched in 2011 collapsed after four years. That said, the failure of the code largely was due to ham-handed negotiations by the EU bureaucracy that left emerging space powers, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, feeling pressured to sign a document that they had had little input to.
Asked directly during the CSIS meeting about what he saw as obstacles to cooperation with NATO allies in space, Raymond did not mention any of these foundational differences. Rather, he said, a critical problem is the lack of awareness in the general public about the importance of space.
“I think there’s an awareness issue. The average person in the world doesn’t understand how their way of life is linked to space,” he said. “I don’t think the average person understands the threat that exists today.”