A panel on Allied Partners in Space Mission

A recording of a panel I hosted last week at the Space Force IT Day hosted by AFCEA NOVA.

A bit of different show this week, I have a recording of a panel I hosted last week at the Space Force IT Day hosted by AFCEA NOVA. There were a ton of great discussions that took place and you may hear from some of the other ones in future episodes. My panel however was on the topic of Allied Partners in Space Mission. Joining me, I had the honor of speaking with Col. Shay Warakomski, Deputy Commander for the Combined Force Space Component Command with the U.S. Space Force, as well as Wing Commander Sean Langrish, who is the UK Embassy Space Desk Officer with the British Royal Air Force.

Interview transcript:

Eric White  Space it’s easier to operate in when you have allies, as Col. Atkinson said beforehand,  the only worse thing than fighting your allies is fighting without them, not necessarily fighting, but operating. So I wanted to start with a quote from a gentleman who’s a colleague of both of yours, actually. Because, believe it or not, there are a lot of Royal Air Force members who are actually in the Space Force, whether you know it or not. This is from a group Captain Darren Whiteley, who is deputy director of Global Partnership for the U.S. Space Force. Allied Partnerships are critical to defending our assets at home and in the space domain. The threat is expanding and international collaboration is essential to strengthen deterrence against hostile actors. Through these partnerships, we are able to expand the depth and multiply the effects we can have to those evolving threats. So hopefully without upstaging you or stealing any of your answers. I wanted to start out in a little profound way and ask you, what does an allied partnership in a space mission mean to you? And Shay we can start with you, and also just fill in a little bit about your role and your offices role in fulfilling our allied partnerships.

Shay Warakomski Yeah, well, I tell you, we’ll go ahead and kick it off by addressing your question. But I also want to say thank you, first and foremost, for the invitation from the [Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association, Northern Virginia (AFCEA NOVA)] to be here. Good afternoon, everybody, and certainly my guest partner here, Wing Commander Langrish. Pleasure to be with you on the stage as well, and thanks Eric for hosting this. So I will tell you, earlier today, the CSO’s line of effort number three was evoked, if I recall earlier this morning with regard to Partnering to win, in particular. And some of the language straight out of that, basically says that space power is a collaborative endeavor, and it requires very robust partnerships across the board. And when you look at what we do with our allies and our coalition partners, they’re an absolute force multiplier for us from a deterrent nature to be able to execute all of our space operations missions, and certainly to provide that competitive advantage across the board. Not only for the U.S., but certainly it’s a win win relationship for those nations as well. When you look at space operations and our access to the space domain, being able to operate to from and within that domain, it’s absolutely vital, critical to what we do. Global security depends on it. Our economic prosperity across the board, whether folks really realize that or not. In the physics of that domain are different from any other that we operate in. And because of that, we’re on an absolute campaign across the board to talk with our allies, our coalition partners, to ensure that there is a broader understanding of that specific domain.

Eric White Great. Sean, are we fulfilling the reputation of the special relationship between our two governments? When it comes to space operations, what is your role and what have you seen throughout the years?

Sean Langrish Eric, I would say very much so, yes. I am on the air staff and the British Embassy. But what that really means is I try and keep my air and space attaché who’s a one star, but he’s a fighter jet pilot. A little bit more knowledgeable on space matters. Col. Shay has done a fabulous job of answering that first question. But what I would add to that, is that it’s just kind of obvious and it makes sense. Space is inherently a global domain, and if you look at all the traditional warfighting domains of land, sea, and air we’ve operated as a coalition for decades, and it just makes sense that we should do the same in the space domain. Now, the previous speaker I noted he stole a Churchill quote, which I thought as the British I’ll have the monopoly on. But I’ll draw your attention to the first part of that, and that Churchill makes the point that it’s not easy fighting with allies. You say there’s only one thing worse than fighting with them. And so it’s not straightforward. There are differences that need to be overcome. There are obstacles, but I think it’s incumbent upon people like us to make sure that wherever possible, we’re reducing those barriers to ever closer collaboration.

Eric White All right. Well, we have a little bit of a visual aid to describe how these operations are carried out, if we could get that slide put up there for us. All right. As you can see, and I promised I would make the funny joke of this will be our North star for our conversation. Because as you can see, this has been laid out by Col. Shay very diligently. And he wanted me to stress that this is a working description of how things are operating. So what I wanted to go off with first in that left top left hand corner of the international sharing agreements. Sean, can you just start out by describing, what are these sharing agreements? How do they work? And what is the demand for them in shaping them?

Sean Langrish Well, I’ll answer the last part first. The demand is huge. And you can see by the sheer number of countries, with which the U.S. has data sharing agreements. But I’ll be pleased to know there are many union flags on there. And while some of them are specific to the UK, there are some that are embedded with other nations flags as well, so that is nice to see. I can speak specifically to the UK, which derives the vast majority of its space surveillance and tracking data from the U.S., and split particularly the 18 Space Defense Squadron. And we use that to do our own orbit termination of the UK Space Operations Center, and to be able to maintain a degree of sovereign space situational awareness. But the point I would make is that a lot of those agreements you’re seeing in the top left are for unclassified space surveillance and tracking data. A lot of which is available through the space tracked on all websites. But that’s only part of the puzzle. In fact, that is a foundational layer upon which if you’re going to really get to space domain awareness. And I think we absolutely need to see, given the nature of the domain these days with activities that we’ve seen by Russia and China, then there’s a whole bit which needs to be layered on top of that, and that really is the intelligence part. And here is, for the first time, we’ll come to a little bit more about the obstacles in ever closer collaboration, because a lot of the space intelligence is derived from very sensitive and very exquisite sources. And it’s not necessarily straightforward for the U.S. Space Force or indeed U.S. Space Command to share that high level of intelligence with its allies and partners.

Eric White Shay, sounds like you have a bit of a happy partner here, but sounds like you want to explore it a little bit more. But what does the sharing agreement mean to you? And what is the stance of the Space Force on that?

Shay Warakomski Yeah, so context is very important, and Sean did a great job of kind of walking through that piece as well. So today we have these service support agreements with over 30 nations in particular. Really, it’s kind of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. that’s done through U.S. Spacecom, I would add, through the j55 for those of you who were here earlier and you heard that discussion right after lunch. And so, these agreements in particular, again, there’s a basic service level where anybody can go out spacetrack.org and sign up. There over 150,000 user accounts out there. The standard data that’s provided are two line elements and that sort of thing. But these agreements get at really the heart of some of the more critical aspects of what you would see on orbit, in terms of conjunction assessments, collision avoidance, electromagnetic interference, far more than the two line reentry, the orbiting disposables of satellites across the board. And so, nations use these agreements to varying degrees, obviously, with for whatever shared interests they have from that standpoint. But this is no kidding the inject point via U.S. Spacecom for those type of agreements for these bilateral sides.

Sean Langrish If I could add on to that, please, Eric. These data sharing agreements, some of them have been around for a very long time, and we should bear in mind that although we’re seeking ever closer collaboration with the U.S. and our Five Eyes partners in particular, where the space domain is concerned, it’s not a new thing. And the UK has, since 1963, had a U.S. provided space surveillance radar in Northern Yorkshire. Whilst it does contribute significantly to ballistic missile early warning, it spends most of its time contributing to Space alliance and tracking for low earth orbit satellites. And so this is not a new thing. I think there is now a tipping point in the domain where we need to work more closely than we ever have.

Eric White So you can hear him clamoring for that. And let’s keep bringing it back to the Churchill quote. There were some of those differences between allies that need to be overcome. Shay, how do you dictate what’s good information and what’s, OK, we’ll help you out, but we’re going to keep this to our selves a little bit.

Shay Warakomski Yeah. So I will tell you, at the very highest levels, there is a push to be able to declassify, to go to at least Five Eye type of classifications across the board, to get away from no form whenever possible. And so within the Space Force, in particular, I can tell you it’s Space Operations Command, they’re looking at it by mission set in particular. And so it is easier in some cases, if you’re looking at MilSatCom position navigation, timing or nav warfare. Those are a little bit easier to get after, in terms of the declassification and bringing those to ratify certainly, then arguably nuclear command and control, and some of the other mission sets that we get after. But right now, they are in fact. The staffs are looking at how to get after that in particular. And I think sometime this spring, early summer, is when they’re looking to have a kind of across the board the processes in place to be able to get after that.

Eric White Sean, are you satisfied? Or is the over classification issue that has been talked about in other agencies, is it causing any roadblocks that might hamper operations in the future that you want to operate within the U.S. government?

Sean Langrish We are seeing real progress being made and at the very highest levels of the [Department of Defense (DoD)]. We are seeing and aware of memos that are being written as directives to the force. We just have to accept that it takes time. And in many instances, what needs to happen is a culture change. But that takes time to inculcate. And so we need to be patient, but we also need to be, if you like holding the U.S. to account, that they are meeting the intent of the senior leaders based on what they are saying.

Eric White Absolutely. All right. And so let’s get into some of those specific examples of combined space operations. Let’s talk Operation Olympic Defender. That is a big project that both governments are very excited about. Shay, why don’t we start with you on trying to outline it for us, and what your role in that is?

Shay Warakomski Yeah, sure. So, Operation Olympic Defenders, U.S.Spacecom named Operation. In fact, we’re working very closely right now with the UK, Australia and Canada on this. About four months ago, we walked through the mission analysis where we have shared capabilities and to be able to plan moving forward, in terms of a multi-national force operation. And so, as of May we’ll be getting into the course of action analysis, in terms of what each of the nations is able to bring to bear from a capability capacity standpoint to be able to get after some of that. But this is all very much on the heels of some of the efforts that were mentioned earlier. Global Sentinel, for example, coming out of the j55 office there at U.S. Spacecom.

Sean Langrish A little bit on that, is that the UK was the first nation to join Operation Olympic Defender in 2019. And we shouldn’t lose fact of how significant that is. The U.S. now has a named operation, and it’s an enduring operation for combined space activities. And that itself is a massive step forward from where we were. And I think it points to the fact that, the U.S. working now more closely with allies and partners in the space domain has become non-discretionary, and that is largely due to the actions that we’ve seen, China in particular, but also Russia taking in making the domain a contested one.

Eric White Yeah, On the mixing of operations, we also are mixing personnel now. There’s several members of the Royal Air Force who are serving in the U.S. Space Force. And Sean, I would be curious to know how that transition has worked for your former colleagues, and I guess, still colleagues, but countrymen.

Sean Langrish Yeah, it’s a significant growth we’ve seen. I’m an example of an officer who served an exchange in what was headquarters, Air Force Space Command before that really became the colonel around which U.S. Space Force developed. And so I have a grounding in national security space through a U.S. Lens, and that’s been invaluable to me in my career. But in the time that I’ve been in the embassy, which has only been two and a half years, we’ve more than doubled the number of people we have serving and exchange and liaison roles. And that’s across the breadth of U.S. Space Force and the U.S. Space Command ranks from O-6 down to E-4. And the insights we gain, and the knowledge, skills and experience we are able to inculcate into our personnel, who can then bring that back to the UK, and grow our human capital for space is frankly, that is invaluable. And I’ll just add to that, although the UK is investing significant additional funding into its military space endeavors, it is still very modest in comparison with the U.S. Space Force, which we know president’s budget request was something like $13 billion for FY 24. The UK is never going to be able to match that, but what we can do is put good people in some key roles within U.S. organizations. And really contribute to the burden sharing that the UK seeks to be able to contribute as a burden sharing nation and a meaningful space actor.

Eric White Shay, What do we get out of this?

Shay Warakomski Fantastic relationships. I tell you, we have the connective tissue to be able to reach across the pond as you see there. If I can direct your attention to the middle of the slide, we work very closely with the space operations centers there in the UK and Australia and Canada. In fact, every week we have an operations and Intel briefing with each of those nations, where they’re part of that. We talk through the space support request, any of the requests for information that they have across the board, which hearken back to those [Social Security Administration (SSA)] sharing agreements as well. But that is our conduit on a weekly basis. And it’s daily in many cases. Don’t get me wrong. But at a minimum, we’re talking weekly from that standpoint. As mentioned before, those four operations centers that kind of bring back under the fold four sets that combine force space component command. In particular, in the missile warning center, due to our relationships with [North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)] in NORTHCOM, certainly from that missile warning standpoint, we have Canadians embedded with us in those centers that are looking at the integrated tactical warning attack assessment side of the House. When you look at JNWC, the Joint Navigational Warfare Center out of Kirtland and what we’re doing from a NAVWAR standpoint, we’ve got an Australian officer on board there. And then I tell you, in our very own we’re co-located at Vandenberg, such is the staff with the CSpOC. We’re very fortunate to have that. The Combined Space Operations Center, which serves as the lifeblood, it is the absolute nerve center for space command control operations across the board. Our deputy director of the CSpOC is an Australian group, Captain Greening. And prior to that, it was a UK officer and I suspect one of those nations there in the middle will be the follow on deputy director here another year and a half or so. I would also add, you can see we work very closely with Germany, Japan and France from that standpoint with their burgeoning operation centers. And I can’t forget NATO, from the standpoint of the space center. NATO, in particular, recognize space as an operational domain in 2019, and in 2020 began to establish their space center at Ramstein Air Base under Allied Air Command. And so right now, we’re working very much hand-in-glove with them from the standpoint of looking at all the operations they would like to do and to be able to work very closely from that standpoint. So, again, burgeoning relationships across the board. Obviously, work very tightly right now with the UK, Canada and Australia on those fronts.

Sean Langrish Eric, if I can just build off of that. I talked about the fact that I’ve been able to work in a U.S. space organization for three years as an exchange officer, and immediately after that, went from Colorado to RFI, working with the UK Space Operations Center is. And that’s the very 12:00 position in the center of the slide there. And as officer commanding of the UK Space Operations center, I remember very clearly in 2019, having live VTC’s ongoing whilst we were preparing for a Russian direct ascent anti-satellite weapon launch. And it was thanks to the information we were getting in real time from the combined space operations center, that we were able to provide our response and keep our senior leadership informed of how that situation was developing. And that for me, is a very neat vignette that sums up the already close relationship that we have and the importance of it.

Shay Warakomski Eric, if I could just add real quick, because I want to differentiate as well. So those exchange officers that you see there. Well, let me talk about the LNO’s first, they’re represented by France, Germany, the UK and Japan. The LNO’s themselves are direct representatives to those nations. And of course, we have collaboration and we integrate them where we can. But they have a very different relationship with their nations than the exchange officers. Those exchange officers are embedded within the units. And they’re, for all intents and purposes, are working on U.S. led efforts across the board. Again, they have that conduit back to their own operations centers. But they are working for multiple years embedded within those units.

Eric White I’m just curious, and I don’t want you to speak for any of their franchise experience or anything like that, but is this kind of collaboration unique when it comes to military operations? I know space is, obviously, it’s a whole different domain, but just having somebody working side by side, as you said, almost on a weekly basis. From talking to your fellow military colleagues, is that something that is unique to this domain?

Shay Warakomski No, I don’t think so at all. In fact, we look to leverage this type of relationship wherever possible. Of course, I have a space ops background, but I also have a cyber background as well. And from a U.S. CYBERCOM standpoint, their J5 works very closely with international partners, too.

Eric White All right. I’d like to open up the slide here. If any of you have any questions for these two gentlemen, please go ahead and get them in there, and it looks like you might already. So why don’t we just start it off their. Is sharing government manage resources and data across allies as challenging as sharing commercial resources and data across allies part of the strategic plan? Shay, I’ll let you start that one as well.

Shay Warakomski Sure. I think, from a managed resource standpoint, really the data is key and that’s already been kind of mentioned earlier today, in previous sessions. I will tell you the infrastructure that we have today, they’re decent systems. But what we need to be doing, in terms of the [Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI)] there’s a lot more work that needs to be done across the board. [Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System (BICES)], in particular, it’s wonderful for a secure VTC, but when you want to go much further than that, it has some limitations.

Sean Langrish I’ll build off that and say yes, it is challenging, but technically entirely feasible. So what we’re talking about, the impediments really are policies and authorities to allow that information exchange to happen. The commercial resources point’s a really interesting one. And the UK, the Ministry of Defense, is working to later this year stand up something called, it’s quite a clunky acronym. JCO is what it goes by, but that stands for the Joint Task Force Space Defense Commercial Operations endeavor. And that really is providing additional capacity to leverage space domain awareness information from commercial, often SATCOM providers, because so much of the particularly the SATCOM bandwidth is provided through commercial service providers, and they’ve got a lot of assets on orbit for which they derive significant amounts of space domain awareness that can augment those purely military sources of intelligence as well. And so, this is another avenue where the UK is seeking to provide greater input and contribution to that U.S. led efforts to get ever better, more relevant space domain awareness.

Shay Warakomski And that’s a great point that Sean made. And I would like to go back to a previous lesson or session earlier today, where they talked about the JCO out of JTFSD. So for those of you who aren’t aware, US Spacecom has two functional commands JTFSD, Joint Task Force Space Defense, works the Protect and Defend of unorbit assets. And so that is where that JCO resides from the commercial standpoint. On the previous slide that we had up in the bottom left corner, you probably saw ten of our commercial partners there. At CSpOC we have a commercial integration cell, too. That’s all going to get rolled up. Again, it’s U.S.Spacecom under the Commercial Integration Office. But right now that CIC, that commercial integration cell, we have a representative on the floor that basically looks after the interests of all ten of those companies, in real time is able to work back and forth with them. We work very closely, in terms of EMI, again, electromagnetic interference, a whole host of things that we might be experiencing, whether it be in the [area of responsibility (AOR)] or otherwise. And so those are just fantastic relationships that we have established that are only going to continue to bear fruit.

Sean Langrish And I’ll just quickly build on that and say what we’ve seen in Ukraine with Russia targeting StarLink. These commercial satcom providers become targets themselves. Now that’s a whole separate debate on whether that’s a legitimate military target or not. But nonetheless, I think those adversary nations will seek to target commercial providers, because they know how important they are to the whole.

Eric White Yeah. We can keep piggybacking off of Col. Atkinson when he mentioned the industry partners are almost part of the force. Shay, how are those relationships formed and where does that come from in the specialty of the U.S. Space domain?

Shay Warakomski Yeah, absolutely. So, of course, it hearkens back to these commercial leases that we have, whether it be for, MilSatCom or imagery or other aspects certainly. And again, that inject point is through the U.S. Space Command from that standpoint. But we work very closely. You see the ten companies there from a commercial standpoint. There are other companies that will be brought into the fold soon, but all of that is vetted through the combatant command, in terms of the interest where they see it being a win-win relationship across.

Eric White And so what you wanted me to emphasize, once again, this is an ever changing slide. So please don’t take this as a religion or anything. But Shay, working with across industry and the U.S. Space Force, what are your relationships with industry in the commercial space realm..

Sean Langrish Is that for me?

Eric White Yes. Sorry. Shay and Sean, we knew it was going to happen.

Sean Langrish It’s something that we are starting to try and get our arms around. We should acknowledge that the UK Space Command is only a couple of years old, and so we are still nascent in this journey. But I think, there’s no mistaking the fact there’s a clear understanding that we really need to seek to leverage the agility that commercial providers have. The innovation is something, which I don’t think government can ever match. And so it’s all about having that right type of engagement with industry, where those really good ideas are able to be exploited and taken and brought operational capability and relevant time frames. And that’s, I think, where perhaps the DoD, but also the Ministry of Defense struggles. And not just in the space domain. You can look across domains when it comes to acquisition and all the problems there.

Eric White We can start from an issue based question that I have, and that is the problem of orbital debris, which is something that affects everybody, including up on that board in countries that aren’t up on that board. Shay, can you tell me a little bit about how collaborating with other governments and other industry partners is looking to tackle that problem.

Shay Warakomski Yeah, absolutely. And so Sean already mentioned the 18th Space Defense Squadron based out of Vandenberg, and that is the heart and soul of space domain awareness. From the track, I can tell you that today we’re approaching nearly 48,000 objects, either payloads on orbit or debris, that we’re tracking about ten centimeters in size and larger. And so it’s a significant issue across the board. And I think one of the questions there is that we’re probably going to dovetail into is, with regard to the Department of Commerce, in the fact that there taking on the civil space traffic management piece. And I know that from a Space Force standpoint, what we’re looking for is interoperability there. Certainly as we look for the unified Data library to make sure that anything that we’re collecting is passed on to the Department of Commerce. But when you look at some of the companies out there that are, obviously, launching the mega constellations, this is becoming one of those. It just requires more eyes, more sensors across the board to be able to get after that.

Eric White I’m going to ask how does orbital debris affect UK space interests?

Sean Langrish As Col. Shay said, a significant problem that’s getting significantly worse, and the sheer resource you need to put in to be able to maintain custody of circa 40,000 objects. And that’s rapidly growing, means that it’s hard to reach a point where you’ve got enough sensors failed to do that job to a high enough degree of fidelity. And somewhere where the UK, I think, can add additional capability perhaps, to the DoD is the fact that the UK, yes it’s obviously got its homeland in the North Atlantic. But the UK has overseas territories around the world. And there are areas perhaps where the U.S. may wish to put space domain awareness census to just further grow the sense of coverage we have of low-Earth orbit in particular.

Eric White And please do get those questions in, whatever and upvote the ones that you really want to see. We can start up at the top of, what support and innovation is needed now and over the next few years to facilitate information sharing across coalition partners at the speed of relevance? Why don’t we start with you, Sean.

Sean Langrish I feel like a bang this drum a few times already.

Eric White But as far as innovating, what sort of innovations? You talked about, how these are just policies and policies can change, but are there technical capabilities that could make information sharing feel a little bit better for the person dealing out the information?

Sean Langrish The limitations are not technical. The limitations of policies, authorities, and frankly, an appetite for risk. And to restate what I did earlier, I think there’s an imperative now to share that perhaps didn’t exist five or ten years ago. So it is becoming non-discretionary. And I think there needs to be a little bit more of risk acceptance, risk tolerance in sharing, because, I think, there would then be an imperative to share, which if we did that earlier, we would just be in a much better position to perhaps deter. But if deterrence failed, then be in a better position to respond as a coalition. I think right now, we’d have a coalition with the whole was less than the sum of its parts. Whereas if we managed to crack that nut, then I think we would have a coalition that was greater than the sum of its parts.

Eric White Shay It looks like this next question might be geared towards you. What trends are you seeing from the partner International Ops centers, Australia, UK, Japan, Germany and France? And what challenges are they seeing? Besides obviously some of the information sharing stuff that we’ve already discussed?

Shay Warakomski Yes. So the trends in general are certainly space support requests across the board. Whether we’re looking at OPI, our watch boxes, GPS jamming for EMI, those sorts of things.Wherever we can apply those capabilities to be able to support, whether it’s operations that they’re conducting as well. Those are really the types of things that we’re seeing. Of course, again, we talked about orbital debris already. And so from the standpoint of conjunction assessments, collision avoidance, that is a significant thing. And I can tell you the 18 space defense Squadron working through the CSpOC works very closely with those operation centers from that standpoint, whether they be commercial or nation owned satellites. That’s really where we’re seeing a lot of the impetus. There’s significant mission analysis right now. There’s significant training that’s going on, ops exchanges across the board, working very closely with the teams from that standpoint.

Eric White And not to ignore the upper right hand corner of the slide of interagency partnerships. I just didn’t want to keep on harping on it since that was kind of the topic of the panel before. But, I think we should discuss a little bit into that, because, obviously, our space agency probably has some say in our international partnerships. What can you tell me about their role and that of also the Defense Department? And you already mentioned the Commerce Department, but what other U.S. agencies are getting in on this?

Shay Warakomski Well, I’ll tell you, I won’t speak on behalf of other agencies. But for the three in particular, in the corner, for JOC, the joint operation center in particular, they work hand-in-glove with the [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)]. The NGA, it’s about half and half NGA. And so we work very, very closely with that unit. Department of Commerce, we mentioned from a civil space traffic management side of the house. And then for NASA, absolutely critical relationship that we have there. I’ll tell you, we work very closely with First Air Force, from a human spaceflight standpoint. And so whether you’re looking at crew dragon missions that are coming and going, whether you’re looking at the assets in particular. We work very, very closely with NASA from the standpoint of the need for them. They may do predetermined debris avoidance maneuvers or PDAMS of the ISS, depending on the proximity of orbital debris. And I think many of your prior tracking that has happened twice in March. And so, it’s one of those issues that continues that we have to follow very closely. But work again with NASA.

Eric White Sean as an allied partner, navigating through the federal government can be tough even for citizens. Let’s say, you?

Sean Langrish It can be tough. We’ll take UK Space Command, which is a headquarters of less than a hundred people. And it’s facing off against U.S. Space Force, a force like command. Of course, they can organize, train and equip. And then another force organization U.S. Space Command doing global space operations. So trying to cover off all of those equities, it is a challenge. And, all governments, I think, are bureaucratic institutions. But my goodness, the U.S. has taken it to another level. So that does keep it interesting for us, particularly from an embassy perspective. But just on civil military collaboration or interagency and in the UK’s defense space strategy, the first one we’ve ever had published last year, we have committed to building a national space operations center that is still very much an endeavor that’s in its infancy. But we see civil and military space and in commercial space, because we already have a commercial integration. So within our U.K. space operations center that it just makes sense to do that. Space is a, I think, somewhat unique in that respect. It does require almost the whole of government and often whole of military response, of course. Because were not just talking about the licensed Space Force as a provider of capability, but it’s the users as well. And we had the Army speaker on earlier who articulated that very eloquently.

Eric White A great transition for me to ask you, can you just educate us a little bit on the UK government Space collaborations between space agencies and military affairs? Is it married as much as it is for the U.S. government, or are there strict highways that they stay within?

Sean Langrish Probably more on the latter. Speaking of debris removal, actually just reminded me that the UK space agency is right now looking at some active debris removal missions in years to come. But I think there is an acknowledgment, particularly when we’re talking about the UK developing a launch capability. Now, I won’t say sovereign launch, because it’s not really a UK government endeavor, but they are providing funding towards it. But there are commercial launch providers looking to develop a vertical and horizontal spaceports within the UK. And that requires a really close collaboration between the Ministry of Defense, but also the civil and commercial space sectors to bring all that together and build to do it safely.

Eric White And adding on top of that, you bring in these collaborations with the U.S. government and other governments across the world. Once again, I’ll ask you, maybe to do a just a quick comparison of how those relationships go with industry? And, I guess, if you want to bring in another agency or two, why wouldn’t you copy us?

Sean Langrish Yes. Were just talking a difference of scale, really.

Eric White Yeah.

Sean Langrish And so the UK has got a very vibrant space industry, of course. But those partnerships are not nearly as mature as the ones which DoD has with industry. In time, I think those relationships, there’ll be fewer of them, but hopefully they’ll be just as robust and well formed. But right now, this is still very much in its infancy as the UK Ministry of Defense at least decides where it wants to go with its investments in the additional £1.4 billion of money that was confirmed through the integrated review of 2021.

Eric White Got you. All right. And Shay, what other, and I know we’re getting close to time here, but I just am curious, what other issues pertaining to space that can be military or nonmilitary? Do you think that allied partnerships that the U.S. Space Force has is ripe for tackling? What other issues are there that can help be mitigated with these partnerships?

Shay Warakomski Well, I mean, it’s very important to understand that, in terms of capacity, capability and certainly resilience across the board, that is what our allied partners are bringing to the table in support of what we’re doing as well. And we reciprocate in kind, obviously, from that standpoint. I think one of the most important things we can do, and I think Sean may agree with me here, is really this security classification guidance moving forward. When we can break some of those barriers, we obviously have, shared trust and mutual interest. And it takes all of our allies, it takes like minded nations to be able to have responsible norms of behavior in the space domain. And so really opening the aperture for our allies from that standpoint is one of the biggest things we can do, particularly in the near term.

Eric White Sean, one of General Saltzman, three lines of efforts, partner to win. Obviously, this is a big push for the U.S. Space Force. And you mentioned some of the issues, but where are you feeling the love and think that it’s actually improving operations as a whole?

Sean Langrish Are we feeling the love? I would say very much so. We have got very good relationships at senior levels with U.S. Space Command, with U.S. Space Force. But, I sense now that we’re at a point in history, where it’s obvious that we need to work more closely in the domain. I think the U.S. realizes that and it is making concerted efforts to bring its closest partners-allies more into the fold to allow us to work more closely together. So the intent is there. But as I said, in my earlier remarks, there is an amount of time that needs to pass for things like security classification guides to be updated. That sounds already boring and tactical, but without that sort of stuff, the rubber doesn’t meet the road in terms of memos or intelligence briefs being shared amongst those who need and should be able to receive them. So, yes, things are absolutely trending in the right direction. And I think it’s something we just need to sit tight a little bit and allow, U.S. Space Force, U.S Space Command, which, let’s face it, they’re also quite new, immature organizations that are finding their feet. So just a little bit of strategic patience to be exercise. Difficult, though, it can be sometimes.

Eric White Yeah. And, as you said, the intent is there, the demand is there also as well. There are things happening that are out of both government’s control. And so obviously, working together is going to be so important in the future. Can it be amplified to a level that where everybody is happy eventually, whether or not, there is more information sharing or not, but in other realms as well. Do you think that there is any way that it might be pushed up to another level or to another notch with the UK or with any other governments?

Shay Warakomski Well, I think we have seen a marked improvement, and I think you’ll continue to see that as we move forward. I don’t know that anybody is ever going to be 100% happy. But from the standpoint of working with some of our closest, particularly our Five Eye partners, I think you’re going to see the logjam here in the months ahead be broken, in terms of some of these security classification pieces.

Sean Langrish And Eric, we should also accept that the UK is not perfect in this by any means. We have our own difficulties sharing information with the U.S. and other Five Eyes partners. So it’s not just as if this is a U.S. problem, that is absolutely not the case.

Eric White Thank you for clarifying. I didn’t want to get yelled at by Shay. All right, so you’re wrapping up. Any final thoughts on where this is all headed? Obviously, we’ve talked about a lot and you probably will have to reiterate some points that you’ve already made in this topic. But I am just wondering, if you have any idea of what you foresee in the future as things move forward. Shay, we can start with you.

Shay Warakomski Yeah. So there are a couple aspects out there, above and beyond the OOD, Operation Olympic Defender. There’s the CSpO, the combined space operations, which is a group of seven nations right now that is looking at a whole host of things, in terms of planning efforts, policies and just capabilities that can be brought to bear. And so these forums are gaining traction. They’re gaining traction, they’re making movement, albeit not fast enough for most of the nations out there. But it is moving forward. It’s not a one step forward, two step backward type of initiative.  These things are, in fact, moving forward. And I expect, again, that within the near term, years ahead, you’re going to see some significant improvement on that front.

Eric White Sean we give the final floor to you.

Sean Langrish In summary, I would say that things are absolutely moving in the right direction, but things absolutely need to move in that right direction as well. And so we look forward to working ever more closely with U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command. Information sharing from all of Five Eyes partners and more broadly in the space coalition, in my view, has become non-discretionary. And the quicker we adapt our policies and our authorities to allow that to happen, the better we are positioned to, God forbid, wage war in the space domain. But if we do, then to be in a position to create a situation where we are exercising space superiority.

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