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US Think Tanks Release Annual Counterspace And Space Threats Studies

Image courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency.

Two leading US think tanks – the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) – simultaneously released their respective annual studies on global counterspace capabilities and space threats on Monday, 30 March 2020.

The SWF study is titled Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment and is the third annual assessment in this series edited by Dr. Brian Weeden and Victoria Samson. The editors write that “[s]pace security has become an increasingly salient policy issue. Over the last several years, there has been growing concern from multiple governments over the reliance on vulnerable space capabilities for national security, and the corresponding proliferation of offensive counterspace capabilities that could be used to disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy space systems. This in turn has led to increased rhetoric from some countries about the need to prepare for future conflicts on Earth to extend into space, and calls from some corners to increase the development of offensive counterspace capabilities and put in place more aggressive policies and postures.”

“We feel strongly that a more open and public debate on these issues is urgently needed. Space is not the sole domain of militaries and intelligence services. Our global society and economy is increasingly dependent on space capabilities, and a future conflict in space could have massive, long-term negative repercussions that are felt here on Earth. Even testing of these capabilities could have long-lasting negative repercussions for the space environment, and all who operate there. The public should be as aware of the developing threats and risks of different policy options as would be the case for other national security issues in the air, land, and sea domains,” Weeden and Samson add.

The Global Counterspace Capabilities assessment provides an open source analysis of the counterspace capabilities, policies, and doctrines of the United States, China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, India, Japan, and France.

The CSIS study is titled Space Threat Assessment 2020 and is authored by Todd Harrison, Kaitlyn Johnson, Thomas G. Roberts, Tyler Way, and Makena Young. The authors write that the “Space Threat Assessment 2020 reviews the open-source information available on the counterspace capabilities that can threaten U.S. space systems and which countries are developing such systems. The report is intended to raise awareness and understanding of the threats, debunk myths and misinformation, and highlight areas in which senior leaders and policymakers should focus their attention,” and that “it serves as an unclassified assessment that aggregates and highlights open-source information on counterspace capabilities for policymakers and the general public.”

The Space Threat Assessment 2020 provides open source analysis of Chinese, Russian, Iranian, North Korean, and Indian counterspace capabilities.

SWF’s Global Counterspace Capabilities assessment can be accessed here and CSIS’s Space Threat Assessment 2020 can be accessed here.

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