U.S. Air Force Col. Sidney Conner, deputy director, space programs assistant secretary (acquisition) speaking May 9 at the Washington Space Business Roundtable. Credit: SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — Don’t look for a line item marked “resiliency” in the space budget.

That was the message from top Defense Department space officials at this month’s Washington Space Business Roundtable lunch.

“I would caution when you look into any budget that you don’t just look for things that say resiliency, because it’s a whole of government perspective here,” Chirag Parikh, deputy director for counterproliferation at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said May 9. “It’s when you bring all these things together, whether it’s at the Pentagon or at the White House, that’s where you really get things going on.”

Rather than solely focusing on new program starts or increasing funding, improvements to resiliency of space systems should also include improvements to operations, tactics, and policy, the he said.

“You need to consider this from a broader aperture,” Parikh said. “Resiliency isn’t just things, it’s also processes, it’s people. You’re talking about making sure that operation plans consider a war that goes into space, making sure…that we have tactics, techniques, and procedures that warfighters understand.”

That’s not to say that the Pentagon won’t be investing money in the problem. Col. Sidney Conner, the deputy director for space programs for the assistant secretary of acquisition, said the Pentagon is already looking at making changes to existing and near-future programs to promote resiliency.

“It’s not just a new thing,” he said. “We have already begun, beginning with the ‘17 budget and even before, a number of investments,” including improvements to things like the Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellites, or Enterprise Ground System satellite control.

David Hardy, the associate deputy under secretary of the Air Force for space, added that “We are making investments consistently with the strategy we’ve established over the last several years in terms of how we should address [the problem].”

A new top Pentagon space adviser

The Defense Department is also hoping for a “cooperative and productive” relationship with a potential National Space Council, said John Hill, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy.

Despite some audio troubles, Hill took the opportunity to make the remark while Hardy was mulling a response.

The day before, Heather Wilson was confirmed as the new Air Force secretary, meaning she’ll also serve as the Pentagon’s top space adviser.

But the White House hasn’t given many specifics about what it wants the NSC to do, leaving it up in the air what the organization’s relationship with the military might be – and leading Hardy to a long pause while he tried to characterize what he hopes Wilson can accomplish in partnership with the Executive Branch.


These video highlights were produced by SpaceNews with support from Intelsat General Corp.

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...