DoD space policy nominee highlights complex security challenges facing U.S.

DoD nominee John Plumb stated he agreed with the Pentagon’s name for a ban on kinetic anti-satellite checks

WASHINGTON — John Plumb, the Biden administration’s nominee to be assistant secretary of protection for house coverage, instructed lawmakers Jan. 13 that the USA faces a posh safety surroundings and has to organize for the potential for “battle extending to, or originating in house.”

At the moment an govt on the Aerospace Corp., Plumb testified at a Senate Armed Providers Committee affirmation listening to on Thursday alongside two different Protection Division nominees: Celeste Wallander, for assistant secretary of protection for worldwide safety affairs; and Melissa Dalton, for assistant secretary of protection for homeland protection and hemispheric affairs.

“As members of this committee are nicely conscious, the safety surroundings dealing with the USA at this second in historical past is a difficult one,” Plumb stated. 

China’s conduct “is a matter of grave concern,” he famous. “From its kinetic anti-satellite weapon check in 2007 that created a persistent particles cloud, to the uncontrolled reentry of a rocket stage final Might, China has not but demonstrated that it’s a accountable spacefaring nation.”

Russia is one other main problem, stated Plumb. “Russia views house as a key enabler of U.S. navy energy” and is creating applied sciences to “disrupt and destroy U.S. and allied house capabilities in disaster and battle.”

In response to questions from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Russia’s latest anti-satellite missile check, Plumb stated each China and Russia have taken actions which can be “deeply disturbing and a priority to me.”

Plumb instructed Manchin he couldn’t touch upon what DoD can do in response as a result of he has not had entry to labeled briefings “on our means to combat by a risk as we speak. What I’ll decide to you is that, if confirmed, I’ll work to ensure that our structure is extra resilient in order that one of these assault is much less engaging to an adversary.”

Plumb stated he agreed with Deputy Secretary of Protection Kathleen Hicks that the Division of Protection would help a ban on kinetic anti-satellite checks by all nations. “I feel that may assist. I additionally assume ensuring that now we have constellations which can be resilient so we’re not totally depending on one specific asset would even be useful.”

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a former NASA astronaut, additionally pressed Plumb on how DoD would reply to debris-creating occasions like ASAT checks that endanger civilian and industrial house actions. 

The risk is “troubling and it’s in many alternative vectors,” stated Plumb. It’s essential to name out “kinetic harmful checks particularly as a result of these would pose a long run enduring drawback to all spacefaring nations.”

Area visitors administration

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) requested Plumb in regards to the transition of spaceflight security tasks now carried out by U.S. Area Command to the Division of Commerce. The Trump administration ordered the switch of tasks in a 2018 coverage directive however the transition has been gradual largely as a result of Commerce doesn’t have the assets to tackle house visitors administration. 

Shaheen, who additionally sits on the Appropriations Committee, has pressed DoD and Commerce for particulars on the associated fee and specifics of the switch. 

“There has not been a willingness on the a part of the company to be forthcoming on the associated fee. And that places us in a very tough place with respect to how a lot cash we have to try to acceptable for the Division of Commerce,” Shaheen instructed Plumb. She requested him to decide to better DoD transparency on this subject.

“I feel house visitors administration is totally important and I I do agree that it ought to be carried out by a civil company,” he stated, assuring Shaheen he would assist determine the assets wanted to switch these features to Commerce. “It’s a tough shift, however I feel it’s wanted,” stated Plumb.

Plumb could be the primary assistant secretary of protection for house coverage, a brand new submit that Congress established within the 2020 Nationwide Protection Authorization Act.

He stated creating this place “appropriately elevates the house portfolio throughout the DoD coverage group.” 

Since Congress created this new workplace, the portfolio for the assistant secretary for house coverage has been expanded to incorporate not simply house but additionally nuclear weapons, missile protection, cyber, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Plumb these capabilities are carefully built-in and “important for the period of strategic competitors the U.S. should now rise to fulfill.”

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