• Panelists discuss military intelligence at the Intelligence and National Security Summit.
     Panelists discuss military intelligence at the Intelligence and National Security Summit.

Military Intelligence Officers Call for Expanded Space Assets

September 6, 2017
By George I. Seffers
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The evolving threat requires greater focus on space.

While space has always been an important domain for military intelligence, the intelligence community is renewing its emphasis on the stars, according to officials speaking at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, D.C.

“One of the reasons this conversation is taking place is because of the evolving threat environment. We realize, as much as we thought we appreciated the role of space historically, it’s become even more critical, both from a warfighting perspective and from an economic perspective,” said Maj. Gen. James Marrs, USAF, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and the director of naval intelligence, echoed the sentiment. “Space is a critical domain for us for everything from ISR to weather to command and control. We have come to the conclusion and recognition over the course of the last several years that the Navy needs to up its game in terms of developing and advocating and creating space expertise.”

That expertise is needed for the Navy to be a part of the joint force and so that service officials can be “savvy users of space capabilities at the operational and tactical levels of command,” she said.

Adm. Tighe also emphasized the importance of situational awareness provided by space-based systems. “Space is one of those places where our situational awareness is not perfect. That’s an area, from an intelligence perspective, where we have to do better," she said, adding that the situational awareness better informs “operations in space and operations in the maritime, air and land domains.”

Maj. Gen. Marrs touted the need for “normalizing, integrating and elevating” space. Normalizing space, he said, recognizes that space is a contested environment. “What we would call space superiority is not an American birthright,” he said, stressing the need to develop a “cadre of individuals who can thrive in that environment.”

He pointed out the Air Force has been working with the National Reconnaissance Office to create a more resilient space architecture by 2030. “There’s some important work that needs to be done there,” the general said.

He also touched on the need to streamline the acquisition process due to the long history of complex systems needed in space.

Finally, Gen. Marrs he reminded the audience the Air Force recently created a deputy chief of staff for space operations.

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