Kitay: U.S. leadership in space requires ‘whole of government’ strategy

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Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay says ensuring U.S. leadership in space is a team effort. “We are working whole-of-government policies and strategies, in close partnership with the private sector and our allies,” he told SpaceNews.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay. Credit: U.S. Army photo by Monica King
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay. Credit: U.S. Army photo by Monica King

Top priorities include “protecting and advancing our vital interests in space to considering the future of space traffic management,” said Kitay.

DoD is working with the National Space Council, the National Security Council and interagency partners to “advance our space policy priorities,” he said. The administration “recognizes the importance of space to our country.”

President Trump recently approved a new National Strategy for Space, and he included $8 billion of additional funding for space over the next five years in the budget submission for fiscal year 2019. “The new strategy recognizes that due to actions by our competitors and adversaries, space is now a warfighting domain,” said Kitay. “We must be prepared to address this challenge.” The United States needs “unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in space, in order to advance America’s security, economic prosperity, and scientific knowledge.”

On whether the U.S. military will have a “space force,” Kitay said that issue is part of a broad review led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. “This review will consider a range of organizational options.”

An immediate focus at DoD is to improve the resilience of space assets, he said. “When we talk about resilience, we’re talking about the ability of an architecture to support the functions necessary for mission success with a higher probability, shorter periods of reduced capability, and across a wider range of scenarios, conditions, and threats, in spite of hostile actions or adverse conditions.”

The budget invests in the GPS 3 satellite and ground segment to improve anti-jamming and secure access of military signals in contested environments, he said. The budget also funds the Air Force’s next-generation strategic missile warning systems to improve resiliency features. “Additionally, we are working to strengthen allied and commercial partnerships, as demonstrated by the collaboration at the Joint Space Operations Center,” said Kitay.

DoD intends to accelerate the acquisition process, he said. “Delivering improved performance at the speed of relevance is a key component of the new National Defense Strategy and that applies to space as well,” Kitay added. “I see an emphasis to set priorities and objectives, empower the appropriate level of authority, and move with purpose and urgency. This emphasis will set the stage to significantly improve the speed at which we get new capabilities into the hands of our warfighters.”