A recent article I wrote for Armed Forces Journal discusses the Pentagon’s efforts to maintain space dominance amid the challenges of emerging peer competitors. The Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office stands at the forefront of an effort to revolutionize the way the U.S. builds and deploys satellites.
However, only one year after the ORS office was stood up, defense officials are threatening to slash the budget by $297 million dollars between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2014, essentially grinding the program to a halt.
With the unprecedented modernization of China’s military, specifically in advanced anti-satellite technology (ASAT), America is in serious jeopardy of losing its freedom of access in space. Because of the heavy dependence of the U.S. military on satellites, the People’s Liberation Army has sought to exploit this “Achilles’ heel” by developing a broad array of anti-satellite technologies, including direct-ascent weapons like the one used in China’s January 2007 ASAT test. Following the test, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) spoke at The Heritage Foundation on the need for ORS:
The U.S. needs to ensure that our military has access to operationally responsive space. In a world where our space assets are likely to be threatened, operationally responsive space capabilities will allow us to quickly and affordably replace assets lost to anti-satellite attacks.
The ORS program should be allowed to continue its critical role supporting U.S. national security space assets. Congress must ensure the program office has the resources it requires. Continuing to fund the development and deployment of ORS capabilities is vital to ensuring tthe advantages the military procures from space are reinforced and enhanced amid peer competitors’ rapidly advancing technological modernization programs.