Report from the Commission to Assess U.S. Space Management and Organization

The following is a portion of the executive summary of the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, chaired by Donald H. Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense. It was commissioned by Congress and submitted in January 2001. For a complete copy of the report's summary and findings, click here.

A. Conclusions of the Commission

The Commission was directed to assess the organization and managementof space activities in support of U.S. national security. Members of theCommission were appointed by the chairmen and ranking minoritymembers of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and by theSecretary of Defense in consultation with the Director of CentralIntelligence.

The Commission unanimously concluded that the security and well beingof the United States, its allies and friends depend on the nation’s ability tooperate in space.

Therefore, it is in the U.S. national interest to:

• Promote the peaceful use of space.

• Use the nation’s potential in space to support its domestic,economic, diplomatic and national security objectives.

• Develop and deploy the means to deter and defend against hostile acts directed at U.S. space assets and against the uses of space hostile to U.S. interests.

The pursuit of U.S. national interests in space requires leadership by the President and senior officials. The Commission recommends an early review and, as appropriate, revision of the national space policy. The policy should provide direction and guidance for the departments and agencies of the U.S. Government to:

• Employ space systems to help speed the transformation of the U.S.military into a modern force able to deter and defend against evolving threats directed at the U.S. homeland, its forward deployedforces, allies and interests abroad and in space.

• Develop revolutionary methods of collecting intelligence from space to provide the President the information necessary for him todirect the nation’s affairs, manage crises and resolve conflicts in a complex and changing international environment.

• Shape the domestic and international legal and regulatory environment for space in ways that ensure U.S. national security interests and enhance the competitiveness of the commercial sector and the effectiveness of the civil space sector.

• Promote government and commercial investment in leading edge technologies to assure that the U.S. has the means to master operations in space and compete in international markets.

• Create and sustain within the government a trained cadre of military and civilian space professionals.

The U.S. Government is increasingly dependent on the commercial space sector to provide essential services for national security operations. Those services include satellite communications as well as images of the earth useful to government officials, intelligence analysts and military commanders. To assure the United States remains the world’s leading space-faring nation, the government has to become a more reliable consumer of U.S. space products and services and should:

• Invest in technologies to permit the U.S. Government to field systems one generation ahead of what is available commercially to meet unique national security requirements.

• Encourage the U.S. commercial space industry to field systems one generation ahead of international competitors.

The relative dependence of the U.S. on space makes its space systems potentially attractive targets. Many foreign nations and non-state entities are pursuing space-related activities. Those hostile to the U.S. possess, or can acquire on the global market, the means to deny, disrupt or destroy systems by attacking satellites in space, communications links to and from the ground or ground stations that command the satellites and process their data. Therefore, the U.S. must develop and maintain intelligence collection capabilities and an analysis approach that will enable it to better understand the intentions and motivations as well as the capabilities of potentially hostile states and entities.

An attack on elements of U.S. space systems during a crisis or conflict should not be considered an improbable act. If the U.S. is to avoid a “Space Pearl Harbor” it needs to take seriously the possibility of an attack on systems. The nation’s leaders must assure that the vulnerability of theUnited States is reduced and that the consequences of a surprise attack onU.S. space assets are limited in their effects.

The members of this Commission have, together, identified five matters of key importance that we believe need attention quickly from the top levelsof the U.S. Government. We have drawn these conclusions from six months of assessing U.S. national security space activities, including 32 days of meetings with 77 present and former senior officials and knowledgeable private sector representatives. These five matters—our unanimous conclusions—are:

First, the present extent of U.S. dependence on space, the rapid pace at which this dependence is increasing and the vulnerabilities it creates, all demand that U.S. national security space interests be recognized as a top national security priority. The only way they will receive this priority is through specific guidance and direction from the very highest government levels.Only the President has the authority, first, to set forth the national space policy, and then to provide the guidance and direction to senior officials, that together are needed to ensure that the United States remains the world’s leading space-faring nation. Only Presidential leadership can ensure the cooperation needed from all space sectors—commercial, civil, defense and intelligence.

Second, the U.S. Government—in particular, the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community—is not yet arranged or focused to meet the national security space needs of the 21st century. Our growing dependence on space, our vulnerabilities in space and the burgeoning opportunities from space are simply not reflected in the present institutional arrangements. After examining a variety of organizational approaches, the Commission concluded that a number of disparate space activities should promptly be merged, chains of command adjusted, lines of communication opened and policies modified to achieve greater responsibility and accountability. Only then can the necessary trade-offs be made, the appropriate priorities be established and the opportunities for improving U.S. military and intelligence capabilities be realized. Only with senior-level leadership, when properly managed and with the right priorities will U.S. space programs both deserve and attract the funding that is required.

Third, U.S. national security space programs are vital to peaceand stability, and the two officials primarily responsible and accountable for those programs are the Secretary of Defense andthe Director of Central Intelligence. Their relationship is critical to the development and deployment of the space capabilities needed to support the President in war, in crisis and also in peace.They must work closely and effectively together, in partnership, both to set and maintain the course for national security space programs and to resolve the differences that arise between their respective bureaucracies. Only if they do so will the armed forces, the Intelligence Community and the National Command Authorities have the information they need to pursue our deterrence and defense objectives successfully in this complex, changing and still dangerous world.

Fourth, we know from history that every medium—air, land and sea—has seen conflict. Reality indicates that space will be no different. Given this virtual certainty, the U.S. must develop the means both to deter and to defend against hostile acts in and from space. This will require superior space capabilities. Thus far, the broad outline of U.S. national space policy is sound, but the U.S.has not yet taken the steps necessary to develop the needed capabilities and to maintain and ensure continuing superiority.

Finally, investment in science and technology resources—not just facilities, but people—is essential if the U.S. is to remain the world’s leading space-faring nation. The U.S. Government needs to play an active, deliberate role in expanding and deepening the pool of military and civilian talent in science, engineering and systems operations that the nation will need. The government also needs to sustain its investment in enabling and breakthrough technologies in order to maintain its leadership in space.