Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin got a comprehensive report on the Department of Defense’s space systems and national security challenges in space. Since taking office, this was Austin’s first high-level consultation on space concerns. In a comment to SpaceNews, Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby stated, “Secretary Austin was delighted to obtain a briefing on the space realm.”

Kirby stated he couldn’t elaborate on the exact topics addressed at the March 25 conference, but Austin “recognizes the relevance of this area to our national security,” according to Kirby. John Hill, who is serving as the assistant secretary in charge of the defense for space affairs, headed Austin’s meeting. Senior officials from the United States Space Force, United States Space Command, as well as the National Reconnaissance Office were present, some in person and others via video teleconference.

As per several outlets, the briefing was meant to get Austin up to speed on space projects, the framework of the national defense space industry, as well as the obstacles the United States confronts in the space domain. According to these sources, China’s technical developments and space aspirations were also discussed. The Biden government has made technical rivalry with China a focal point for expenditure and policy decisions. Austin assembled a “China task force” of senior government officials earlier this month to make suggestions about coping with China’s problems.

In his written confirmation hearings to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin said that perhaps the “strategic climate continues to change rapidly, particularly as it relates to space.” As defense secretary, he stated that he would embrace a national defense policy that tackles the “continued development of adversary space as well as counter space capacities.” “Serious and increasing risks to United States national security interests” are raised by Chinese and Russian space operations, according to Austin.

Austin, as well as Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, visited the Indo-Pacific zone earlier this month, where United States allies Japan as well as South Korea are increasingly anxious regarding China’s broad maritime assertions and technical advancements in space and other fields. In an address, last month Blinken stated that the United States should “engage all nations, like China and Russia, in establishing principles and norms of responsible conduct in outer space.”

To discourage and counter China, the United States military commanders in the Indo-Pacific area have called for increased investments in advanced technology, like space systems. Commanders are worried about China’s potential to interrupt GPS and other vital communications satellites and networks. Austin may have to weigh combatant commanders’ demands for more money amid economic constraints and proposals to cut military budgets. He prepares to make his first budget proposal to Congress.

By Adam

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