Congress Must Demand Stronger Leadership from OSD Space Policy — Global Security Review | Space


In 2019, Congress created the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy (ASD Space Policy) to elevate space within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and provide strong civilian oversight within the Department of Defense (DoD) as part of the reorganization that included a new service and combatant command for space. While the expectations of many in government and the private sector assumed that this new position would lead to stronger leadership in space for OSD, the reality is disappointing. The office is underwhelming in its core responsibility—to advance American spacepower through thought leadership in strategy and policy.

Rather than an aggressive push in space strategy, policy, and guidance for the DoD’s emergent roles and missions in such things as cislunar operations, in-space manufacturing, low earth orbit operations (LEO), space weather, science, technology, engineering, and math skills, planetary defense, and support for deep space exploration and development; the only substantive document produced by the office was an updated directive for the Department of Defense on space policy. While this usefully collects and repeats a number of high-level policies, it falls short as it fails to codify the most important policies and taskings material for strategic, great power competition, which were released by the two previous administrations.

Reading the updated directive gives the impression that the DoD is not subject to any of the space-specific national strategies and appears to indicate that the National Strategy for Space, as developed in 2018, is defunct. The DoD’s space policy completely ignores the nation’s legal and policy direction to economically develop space and continue to lead the free world in this vital domain.

Worse, the absence of forward-leaning enabling policy leads to hesitation on the part of key players in government and industry that increase uncertainty and reduce…

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