Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman (left) and Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger Towberman visit Guardians at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Credit: U.S. Space Force

WASHINGTON — Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, in a memo outlining his priorities said the service should pursue stronger partnerships with allies.

“To do this, we will eliminate barriers to collaboration,” he wrote in the memo released Jan. 18.

Partnerships are one of three main priorities Saltzman identified. The others are to deploy “combat-ready forces” and to “amplify the guardian spirit.”

Saltzman said obstacles to collaboration with allies include “traditional barriers like over classification and incompatible systems,” which the Space Force will need to address through policy changes.

But policy changes alone are not the answer, he added. “The best way to build partnerships is through direct collaboration that is mutually beneficial.”

The Space Force will encourage guardians to pursue “foreign exchanges, deployments to industry, university partnerships, reverse industry days, security cooperation initiatives, and shared PME [professional military education] opportunities.”

Closer collaboration with allies also was discussed in space procurement guidelines issued in October by the head of Space Force acquisitions Frank Calvelli, who urged program managers to “avoid SAPs and over-classifying.”

SAP, or Special Access Programs, is a specific category that imposes tight restrictions on information sharing and “hinders our ability to integrate space capabilities across other domains … and can hinder getting ideas from a broader pool of industry, and future sharing with allies,” Calvelli wrote. 

These concerns also were raised by Congress. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act directs DoD to examine all Space Force programs to determine if the level of classification of any of these programs could be changed to a lower level or declassified entirely.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...