By Alexandra Dolce • April 28, 2020•Writers in Residence
On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed into effect the creation of the National Space Force, pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for fiscal year 2020.
Section 9091 (2) of Title XVII of the NDAA provides“ The Space Force includes both combat and combat-support functions to enable prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations and joint operations in all domains”.
On February 19, 2019 President Donald Trump issued Space Policy Directive-4 (“Directive”). The Directive, unlike Title XVII, clearly expresses an aggressive security policy to protect U.S. “interests” in outer space. “Under this proposal, the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces in the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peace and across the spectrum of conflict”.
The issue here is that President Trump’s Directive runs afoul Title XVII. Section 9091(b) (1) (A) of Title XVII states that the function of the Space force “shall be organized and equipped to provide for freedom of operations in, from, and to the space domain for the United States”.
Based on the above, there is a major issue to consider: Will this Directive totally change the purview of how the U.S. reacts to threats and perceived threats in outer space?
It can, but mostly will not.
Let’s face it... we are now a society that is space dependent. We depend on space for national security, GPS navigation, time reference services, data collection, weather forecast, disaster management, and telecommunications just to name a few.
Pursuant to Space Directive -4 : “Under this proposal, the United States Space Force would be authorized to organize, train, and equip military space forces in the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peace and across the spectrum of conflict”.
Unfettered: release from restraint
Purview: will the scope of the Space Force become more aggressive
Ways that this Directive could promote aggressiveness:
A Presidential Directive or executive action is a written or oral instruction or declaration issued by a U.S. President which may draw upon the powers vested in the president by the U.S. Constitution, Statutory law, etc. Art II sec. 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides that the U.S. President is the Commander in Chief of the Military. As such, the President can command the armed forces, including the newly formed Space Force to act more aggressively toward breaches against national space security, and any and all threats and perceived threats towards U.S. and U.S. companies in outer space. I am saying this probably will not happen. I am trying to be as fair and impartial as I can based on the current administration. I am saying this with the hope and assumption that this administration will act within reason and with the best interest of the U.S. and its allies.
Reason why the U.S. should not be more aggressive: The U.S. has too much to lose if we start attacking both in outer space and disabling terrestrial space equipment; attack may lead to many countries being victimized if a precedent of aggressiveness is set in this realm. Countries become victimized by essential space infrastructures becoming disabled that provide day to day activities and security; depending on the act of aggression more space debris; other countries may react instead of pro-act. An example of a reaction is more fortification or a small scale attack or counter-attack to show prowess; finally the inability to access outer space for scientific purposes could impact technological innovation.
SO THEREFORE THIS DIRECTIVE CAN CHANGE HOW THE U.S. REACTS TO VARIOUS THREATS IN OUTER-SPACE, BUT IT WILL PROBABLY NOT BECAUSE OF THE REASONS STATED ABOVE.
On its face the Space Directive- 4 can make space force more aggressive, not based on its tone ALONE but by the acts of the U.S. president.
However, will the Directive make the military take a more aggressive stance in space?-probably not because military hard power or aggressiveness doesn’t ensure unfettered control in space. On the contrary, it can create more chaos because of society’s dependence on space.