WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2014 - Officials from the Defense Department, U.S. Strategic Command and three allied nations signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday on combined space operations to strengthen deterrence, enhance resilience and optimize resources.
At a meeting in Ottawa, Canada, officials from DoD, Stratcom, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom signed the Combined Space Operations, or CSpO, Initiative memorandum of understanding.
The initiative will give participating nations an understanding of the current and future space environment, an awareness of space capability to support global operations and military-to-military relationships to address challenges and ensure the peaceful use of space, DoD officials said.
Operations focus areas
Focus areas for combined space operations include space situational awareness, force support, launch and reentry assessment and contingency operations.
"As space becomes more congested and contested, it is imperative that we work together to ensure we preserve access," Stratcom Commander Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney said in a statement.
"CSpO agreements afford participating nations an understanding of the current and future space environment, an awareness of space capability to support global operations, and a military-to-military relationship to address challenges," the admiral said, adding that the agreements stress the overarching need to act responsibly in and maintain the peaceful use of space.
Cooperative, collaborative engagement
Douglas L. Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said Stratcom, like all geographic and functional combatant commands, has a longstanding history of cooperative and collaborative engagement with the armed forces of foreign nations.
"Coalitions and partnerships represent a necessary step within national security that increases transparency, strengthens deterrence, improves mission assurance, enhances resilience and optimizes resources across participating nations," Loverro said.
The United States has a long history of combined operations in the missile warning mission area and explored the concept in space war games even before the National Security Space Strategy was published in January 2011, he added.
Space cooperation forum
In November 2011 the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Stratcom cohosted a combined space cooperation forum with allies to discuss defense policy harmonization, combined space operations, and space situational awareness architectures, Loverro said.
"That venue set the foundation for what would eventually become the CSpO initiative," he added.
Beginning in February 2012, Loverro said, U.S. and allied participants initiated a period of discovery to identify processes and actions required to meet the objectives of combined space operations.
During the comprehensive review, he added, "partners from each nation worked together to identify areas to enhance operational space integration and collaboration, ensure organization and policies support cooperation and sharing, improve information and data sharing, and expand situational awareness and shared warning in space operations."
Results of review
The results of the review identified and refined tactics, techniques and procedures for current operations as articulated in the CSpO Memorandum of Understanding, Loverro explained.
The CSpO initiative was built to maximize participants' strategic advantage in space, he said, by leveraging their existing, developing and forecasted space-based capabilities.
The concept was built on a three-tiered approach of cooperation, collaboration and integration in which partner nations participate based on their capacity and willingness to share, their national security priorities, and their current level of integration in Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, activities.
Joint Space Operations Center
Loverro defined JSpOC as a U.S. operations center that handles current, ongoing and often sensitive space missions. The center has assigned personnel from allies who are integrated into daily space operations and planning, he said.
"CSpO will promote collaboration between the JSpOC and the centers of our allies. The initiative will expand the capabilities of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space's JSpOC by teaming with international partners and adding their capability and expertise in a mutually supportive way," he added.
Loverro noted that the information sharing and shared awareness created by this cooperation enhances transparency and confidence among participating nations.
"It is important to note that CSpO does not include the term 'center,'" he said. "The focus is on networking current national operations centers and synchronizing operations for unity of effort."
Scope of combined operations
The scope of combined space operations is made up of the three following objectives, Loverro said. The objectives include:
-- To provide timely and accurate warning and assessment of threats;
-- To provide support to national users, joint and coalition forces; and
-- To protect and defend space capabilities while maintaining appropriate levels of readiness.
Combined space operations are intended to support one of the main goals of the National Space Policy, announced in June 2010, and the National Security Space Strategy, to strengthen safety, stability and security in space.
Partnering with other nations
"To achieve this goal," Loverro said, "it is critical that we partner with other responsible nations on military space operations."
By collaborating with U.S. allies who share America's vision of the responsible and peaceful use of space, he added, "the CSpO initiative codifies the spirit and intent of these national directives and translates them into action that increases overall collective capabilities and enables a more timely and unified response to crises."
Participating CSpO nations will continue to identify areas of mutual interest and benefit, Loverro added, and seek appropriate opportunities to incorporate like-minded countries in future combined operations at mutually-agreeable levels.