29 October 2018
The biggest challenge to the Pentagon’s space plan? Hint: ‘It’s not the technology’
by Aaron Mehta


Vice President Mike Pence, center, is greeted by Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, left, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis before speaking at an event on the creation of a United States Space Force at the Pentagon. (Evan Vucci/AP)

WASHINGTON — If the Pentagon is serious about changing how it tackles space, the department must clamp down on old ways of thinking and dump duplicative systems, the department’s No. 2 official said Friday.

“We can’t let any new work be done the old way,” Patrick Shanahan said during an event hosted by the Military Reporters & Editors Association.

The road toward standing up a Space Force, sought by President Donald Trump as a new branch of the military, has been winding. In September, an Air Force memo that leaked to the press cited a $13 billion price tag and calling for the National Reconnaissance Office, currently part of the intelligence community, to be integrated under the Space Force.

Shanahan, meanwhile, has also been working on a design for the potential service, emphasizing the need to stand up the Space Development Agency, which would serve as the acquisition lead on all space issues — and which largely keeps the intelligence community separate.

“What I think happens when the problem is so big is everybody tries to solve — you know, boil the ocean, and it takes too much time. So I’m going to move faster. We need to stand it up,” Shanahan said of the Space Development Agency. “We have to start tonight. I’m more interested in starting tonight than I am in capturing everything.”

The deputy said he was “110 percent aligned” with Sue Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, adding: “There is no land grab with the intelligence organizations.” But he didn’t deny that an roll-up with the intelligence community is on the table, indicating instead that such discussions are ongoing.

“Will it make sense to combine or, you know, merge missions, mission areas? I can’t tell you what that looks like,” he said. “We have oversight committees and, you know, Congress always gets a vote. What we want to do is present them options over time. But right now, when we’re spending real, hard dollars on capabilities, it’s — we are 100 percent aligned on how to get there so we can get the most out of those dollars.”

Global Network