Hagel: Protecting Emerging Space Capabilities a Priority

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Investing in emerging space capabilities will be among the Pentagon’s top budget and strategic focuses in the near future, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a Nov. 5 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Security Forum.

Hagel’s comments come as the Defense Department struggles with the effects of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. Defense leaders have been revamping the Pentagon’s long-term budget strategy, including through the department’s Quadrennial Defense Review.

“We will need to more efficiently match our resources to our most important national security requirements. We can do things better,” Hagel said, according to a transcript. “A much-needed realignment of missions and resources is being undertaken across the Department.”

Hagel went on to describe “six priorities for budget and strategic planning efforts.” They included “protecting investments in emerging military capabilities — especially space, cyber, special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

“As our potential adversaries invest in more sophisticated capabilities and seek to frustrate our military’s traditional advantages — including our freedom of action and access — it will be important to maintain our decisive technological edge,” he said.

Hagel’s comments came two days before Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the impact of sequestration, including what it would mean for the service’s space program.

“Continued sequestration would force us to reduce our network of space launch, on-orbit, and missile warning sensors to single points of failure,” Welsh told the committee, according to his written testimony. “Specifically, we would turn off redundant systems and reduce routine maintenance on the primary systems. Furthermore, it would slow our ability to determine whether space mishaps (collisions in space) are equipment failures, hostile actions, or environmental events.”