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HOME > TOPICS > Missiles, Defenses, and Space      
Missiles, Defenses, and Space
Aug 13, 2020 Space: The New Frontline of Deterrence
In 1914, the vanguard of battle started its slow transition from the trenches and near seas to the clouds. By mid-century, air power placed the Superpowers' defense in the hands of their air forces. Get ready for the next revolution. The frontlines of strategic deterrence (nuclear and nonnuclear) are now gravitating away from the Earth's surface into space where the eyes, ears, and nervous system of the world's economy and militaries increasingly reside. Will America be able to operate effectively in this new theater with Russia and China and the world's other spacefaring nations? What will keeping the peace and prevailing in war now entail?  NPEC commissioned Peter Garretson, an independent space consultant, formerly with the U.S. Air University Air Command and Staff College, to get the answers. His take, contained in the attached study, "What War in Space Might Look Like Circa 2030-2040?," clarifies perhaps the most important comment made int he U.S. Space Force's recently released Spacepower: Doctrine for Space Forces. That observation is that although the "entirety of economic and military space activities" is confined to space out to 24,000 miles from Earth or below (known as "geocentric regime"), America's space investments and interests are likely to expand beyond this to include space activities near, on, and beyond the Moon.  Mr. Garretson drives home the implications of this conclusion by delineating what America's military interests are now -- anchored to activities on Earth -- and what they soon enough may become -- activities more independent of earthly endeavors. To be sure, this transition may sound unrealistic until you consider that Russia, China, the European Union, Japan, and India all have already conducted missions to the Moon and plan soon to return, as does the United States. What are the military security uses and requirements for operating at or below 24,000 miles from Earth as compared to operating beyond? How might conflict arise in space closer to Earth compared to well beyond it in deep space? The short answer is that they are quite different. The trick will be knowing when and how to adjust U.S. and allied expenditures and strategies to deal with both. Towards this end, Peter's work is a first-rate place to begin. 
Working Papers & Monographs
Aug 05, 2020 Thinking Hard About Missile Defense
  Last month, the Japanese canceled on a major US-Japan missile defense project, Aegis Ashore. Japanese officials cited cost and effectiveness as issues driving their decision. The question now is what Japan and the US might do next. Much of the discussion has focused on different kinds of offensive missile or active missile defense measures.  This is too narrow a focus. As Bryan Clark of the Hudson Institute and I argue in the attached Real Clear Defense piece, “Thinking Hard about Missile Defense,” a key part of the missile defense solution for Japan lies in perfecting passive defenses — mobility, camouflage, decoys...and hardening. These first three types of passive defense are hardly new. Hardening, however, is undergoing a quiet technical revolution with the advent of ultra high performance concrete, which is five to ten times more resilient than conventional reinforced concrete.  When combined with other more traditional forms of passive defense, ultra hardening can geometrically increase the number of weapons needed for an attack because an adversary has to assume each potential target is hardened. It also should reduce missile defense requirements significantly, making terminal limited foot-print active defense systems, like Patriot and other shorter range missile defense systems, sufficient where previously they might have been dismissed as inadequate. As Washington works with its allies to protect key overseas bases, how much missile defense of what type is going to be a major issue that will be easier to work if passive defenses and hardening are dialed in.      
Op-Eds & Blogs
Jul 10, 2020 Coping with the Ground-Based Laser ASAT Threat
  As we approach the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing, the front lines of nuclear deterrence are moving from missile launch sites and air bases on earth to key satellites based in space. Knock out key satellites essential to command, control, communication, and informing military forces, and you can lobotomize any military no matter how powerful. In this regard, what China and Russia are up to deserves attention: Both are deploying a variety of anti-satellite weaponry to disable US and allied satellites. The latest development is their deployment of ground-based lasers that can dazzle US and allied imagery satellites. As Brian Chow and I detail in the attached Space News op-ed, “US satellites are increasingly vulnerable to China’ s ground-based lasers.” Chinese dual-use and dedicated military ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) lasers can already temporarily blind US and allied imagery satellites. By the mid-2020s, the Chinese may have lasers powerful enough to damage the structures of the satellites they target. This threat will require the United States and its allies to operate differently in space. Up until recently, we and our allies assumed space was a sanctuary. It is no longer. As Brian and I note, the United States needs to operate its imagery satellites as if they will be damaged once a war begins. This means taking as much imagery in peacetime as possible, relying more on lower resolution images that can be taken from increasingly plentiful commercial satellite constellations, and pushing to diversify America’s source of images away from military-dedicated satellites.  It also suggests new diplomatic positions the United States and its allies should consider, including extending New START’s formal prohibitions on interference with “national technical means of verification,” which includes sensor-carrying satellites.  The next trick is getting China to adhere to such prohibitions. In our piece, Brian and I describe additional diplomatic initiatives to deal with future ground-based laser ASATs.      
Op-Eds & Blogs
Jun 30, 2020 Countering Co-Orbital ASATs: What the Winning National Collegiate Debate Team Has to Say
Due to no planning at all, a key topic of NPEC’s current research — what U.S. space arms control policy should be — was this year’s national collegiate debate topic. Slightly less accidental is who won the national competition (which includes 80 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities). Michael Cerny, Raphael J. Piliero, David Bernstein, and Brandon W. Kelley turned in the winning debate submission, "Countering Co-orbital ASATs: Warning Zones in GEO as a Lawful Trigger for Self-Defense." It's a genuine contribution to U.S. space policy. It makes the case for creating zones in space to help protect key satellites from hostile spacecraft. It builds on NPEC’s research and improves on it.  How did I find out about the competition? In late February, NPEC cohosted a debate with the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on National Security and the Law on space self-defense zones between space expert Brian Chow and Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation. Word of the private debate apparently caught the attention of the collegiate debating teams. One of the teams contacted me and volunteered to transcribe a recording of the event and shared the transcript with their colleagues.  The result is the attached winning debate submission, which reinvents space self-defense or keep-out zones as space “warning” zones. Self-defense and keep-out zones have been criticized for running astride the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits states from asserting their sovereign to appropriate territory in space. The proposed warning zones avoids this problem. Rather than being prohibitive redlines designed to trigger the use of force, warning zones are “informational” and designed to deter conflict in space. The proposed warning zones clearly recognize the increasing threat posed by co-orbital rendezvous satellite operations and suggest a useful diplomatic, legal way forward. The winning team clearly deserves our thanks and their work, our attention.  
May 11, 2020 Working Smarter with America's Spacefaring Allies
On March 2nd, the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security held the space policy workshop, "Working Smarter with America's Spacefaring Allies." The workshop focused on the following questions: How can we work smarter militarily in space with our spacefaring allies? What is the case for and against promoting space zones and bodyguards for proximity operations? How can we work smarter commercially in space with our spacefaring allies? In addition, General John Raymond, Commander of the US Space Force and Thomas DiNanno, Senior Bureau Official and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Policy, Emerging Threats, and Outreach Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance served as keynote speaker. The following is the workshop report:  
May 11, 2020 New Frontiers for U.S. Alliance Cooperation with Japan and the ROK
Audio & Video
Apr 23, 2020 National Security Classification Policy Reform Virtual Meeting
On April 23rd, 2020, NPEC hosted a National Security Classification Policy Reform Virtual Meeting. The following videos are highlights of Richard Immerman and Pete Worden respectively. Transcripts of Richard Immerman's and Harvey Rishikof's presentaion have also been included. The meeting itself was in response to a number of recent Defense classification developments. The first of these relates to overly restrictive classification of historical national security documents and government-commissioned historical analyses needed to develop sound national security strategies. The second has to do with overly restrictive classification and security policies that are complicating our country's ability to achieve its security objectives related to space, 5G and cybersecurity, and biotechnology and the health sciences.
Audio & Video; Testimony & Transcripts
Mar 23, 2020 Securing Our Military Satellites Against Shadowing Spacecraft
Earlier, last month, General John Raymond, Chief of Space Command operations, revealed that the Russians had launched a spacecraft that shadowed an important US military satellite. Could the Russians be angling to disable key US and allied space assets? General Raymond would not say but voiced concern. "It's clear," he noted, "Russia is developing on-orbit capabilities that seek to exploit our reliance on space-based systems that fuel our American way of life."  NPEC recently held a workshop with the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security to dive a bit deeper. General Raymond spoke to the group and before his talk, two of the world's leading experts on co-orbital shadowing satellite threats offered their view. The first expert was Brian Chow, a space analyst; the second was Brian Weeden of the Secure World Foundation. Both focused on whether space keep out zones and shadow spacecraft-blocking body guard satellites might help.  France has announced its desire to create such zones and build satellite bodyguard systems. The United States has yet to support such moves. Should it? In other publications, Brian Chow says yes but there are other views and they too are worth weighing. Toward this end, the transcript below of Dr. Weeden's and Dr. Chow's discussion and two of their previous published exchanges make for interesting reading. 
Testimony & Transcripts
Mar 16, 2020 Missile Wars: What's Coming
On March 16, 2020, NPEC's Executive Director, Henry Sokolski gave the following lecture at University of California: San Diego. Missile Wars: What's Coming Since the 1970s, military theorists have predicted wars would be waged with super precise missiles that would penetrate most defenses. Recent successful missile attacks against oil facilities at Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, and Ain Assad Airbase in Iraq suggest that their predictions have come true. How real is this revolution? What new civilian and military targets might now be vulnerable that previously were not? In the case of civilian targets, such as nuclear power plants and cities, what are the moral and military considerations? This presentation will answer these questions.
Presentations; Audio & Video
Mar 13, 2020 China's Nuclear Arms Are a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery
While our attention on China today is focused on the short-term challenge of tracking the Coronavirus, there is a long-term quandary that also deserves attention. It's China's military strategic intentions. Just what are they?  China experts have tracked Beijing's nuclear doctrine statements, their nuclear and long-range missile programs, and their space access and anti-satellite efforts. Some imterpret these developments as being malign; others chatacterize them as being defensive. Which view is more correct? We don't know. As Michael Mazza of the American Enterprise Institute and Henry Sokolski argue in the attached Foreign Policy piece, "China's Nuclear Arms Are a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery," we need to find out. In specific, Washington should engage Beijing in new strategic capabilities dialogue (not unlike the sort the United States currently conducts with Russia). For reasons we spell out in the piece, this should come before any negotiations on specific arms limits either with China or with China and any other nation. 
Op-Eds & Blogs
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founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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