Space Force Refining Doctrine, Deterrence Documents

The Space Force is working on its capstone space doctrine publication as well as a new deterrence strategy to shape its way forward, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond said in an April 7 discussion with AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

New doctrine will reflect that space is increasingly crowded and possibly dangerous, with more entities developing ways to damage and confuse U.S. satellites and ground stations. The Space Force is standing up a space doctrine center as well, to act as a hub for policy on how to act in space, likely more defensively and perhaps more aggressively when needed than in the past.

“We put together a draft that’s being coordinated as we speak,” Raymond said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to publish this in the next two or three months going forward. It will be the capstone document, if you will, and then there will be other document volumes that will fall under that.”

Video: Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on YouTube

Doctrine touches on deterrence theory as well. Because deterrence requires communication between the U.S. and a threatening entity, the Space Force is figuring out how to declassify its operations to the point that it can credibly warn off potential attackers.

“We’re having a tabletop exercise to help inform that strategy this coming week,” Raymond said. “I met with the security folks from the department and have asked them to help us create a new security framework that allows us to implement that strategy.”

He said there is no firm timeline for completing the deterrence strategy.

Raymond and other defense officials continue to debate which pieces of the space enterprise that fall outside the Department of the Air Force should move into the Space Force. They are also working on multiple reports on acquisition, force structure, and more for lawmakers, and designing new organizations that will oversee aspects like procurement and various operational specialties like electronic warfare and missile warning.

As the Pentagon figures out how to scale back operations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the Space Force will delay its planned launch of the third modernized GPS III satellite until June 30 or later to protect its employees. The launch was originally scheduled for later this month, and the decision to move it will be revisited in May.

“We do not make this decision lightly. However, given our GPS constellation remains strong, we have the opportunity to make a deliberate decision to maintain our mission assurance posture, without introducing additional health risk to personnel or mission risk to the launch,” said Space and Missile Systems Center boss Lt. Gen. John Thompson.

SMC plans to launch three new GPS satellites this year. The GPS enterprise is shrinking its onsite workforce so that employees can stay far enough apart to avoid spreading the virus, as well as changing aspects of its work at the launch and checkout facilities.

“Once these efforts are completed, and the crews have rehearsed and are deemed proficient and ready to execute under these modified conditions, we fully intend to return to our launch cadence for deploying GPS III satellites,” said Col. Edward Byrne, chief of the medium Earth orbit space systems division.