Order Code RS20824
February 21, 2001
Military Space Activities: Highlights of the
Rumsfeld Commission Report and Key
Organization and Management Issues
Marcia S. Smith
Specialist in Aerospace and Telecommunications Policy
Resources, Science, and lndustry Division
Congress created three commissions in 1999 to assess certain aspects of space
activities conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Intelligence
Community (IC). One of these, the Commission To Assess U.S. National Security
Space Management and Organization, was chaired by Donald Rumsfeld and issued its
report in January 200 1. Now that Mr. Rumsfeld is Secretary of Defense, the conclusions
and recommendations of the "Rumsfeld Cornmission" are expected to receive increased
attention. This report provides an overview of the Rumsfeld Commission's report and
identifies key issues about the organization and management of national security space
activities on which Congress is expected to focus. More information on military space
activities, and brief summaries of the reports of the other two commissions (regarding
the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency), are
in CRS Issue Brief IB92011. This report will not be updated.
Concerned about how the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Intelligence
Community(IC) are managing and executing the nation's national security space program,
Congress created the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space
Management and Organization in the FY2000 DOD authorization act (P.L. 106-65).
Chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, it is referred to as the Rumsfeld Commission. Mr. Rurnsfeld
served as Secretary of Defense (SecDef) under President Ford and was sworn in again as
SecDef on January 26,200 1. He resigned as chairman of the Commission on December
28, 2000 when he was nominated for Defense Secretary. Other Colmnissioners were:
Hon. Duane P. Andrews; Mr. Robert V. Davis; Gen. Howell M. Estes 111, USAF (Ret.);
Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, USAF (Ret.); LTG Jay M. Garner, USA (Ret.); Hon. William
R. Graham; Gen. Charles A. Horner, USAF (Ret .);ADM David E. Jeremiah, USN (Ret .);
Gen. Thomas S. Mooman, Jr., USAF (Ret.); Mr. Douglas H. Necessary; Gen. Glenn K.
Otis, USA (Ret.); and Sen. Malcolm Wallop (Ret.). The report was released on January
11, 2001. The text is available a t [http://www.space.gov] or
Rumsdeld Commission Conclusions and Recommendations
The Executive Summary of the Rumsfeld Commission report states (p. vii, p. xv)
... it is in the U.S. national interest to:
Promote the peaceful use of space.
Use the nation's potential in space to support its domestic,
economic, diplomatic and national security objectives.
Develop and deploy the means to deter and defend against hostile
acts directed at U.S. space assets and against the uses of space
hostile to U.S. interests.
The Commission's report presented five conclusions (pp. ix-x of the Executive
Summary; pp. 99- 100 of the full report). They are paraphrased here.
The extent of U.S. dependence on space, the rapid pace at which that dependence is
increasing, and the vulnerabilities it creates, demand that U. S. national security space
activities be recognized as a top national security priority. Specific guidance and
direction from the very highest governmental levels, including the President, is
needed. Only Presidential leadership can ensure the cooperation needed from all
space sectors-commercial, civil, defense and intelligence.
The U.S. government, especially DOD and the IC, is not yet arranged or focused to
meet the national security space needs of the 2 1" century. A number of disparate
space activities should be merged promptly, chains of command adjusted, lines of
communication opened and policies modified to achieve greater responsibility and
accountability. Only then can necessary trade-offs be made and priorities established
to realize opportunities for improving U. S. military and intelligence capabilities. Only
with senior-levelleadership,when properly managed and with the right priorities, will
U.S. space programs both deserve and attract required funding.
U.S. national security space programs are vital to peace and stability. The two
officials primarily responsible and accountable are the Secretary of Defense and the
Director of Central Intelligence. Their relationship is critical to the development and
deployment of space capabilities needed to support the President in war, in crisis, and
in peace. They must work together in partnership.
Every medium-air, land and sea-has seen conflict. Reality indicates that space will
be no different. Therefore, the United States must develop the means to deter and
to defend against hostile acts in and from space. The United States has not yet taken
the necessary steps.
Investment in science and technology resources-facilities and people-is essential
for the United States to remain the world's leading space-faring nation. The U.S.
government needs to play a role in expanding and deepening the pool of military and
civilian talent in science, engineering and systems operations. It also needs to sustain
its investment in enabling and breakthrough technologies.
The Commission made 10 recormmendations that appear on pp. xxxi-xxxv of the
Executive Summary. An 1lthrecommendation, and elaboration on all of them, are in the
full report, pp. 82-98. They are paraphrased here.
Presidential Leadership. The President should consider establishing space as a
national security priority.
Presidential Space Advisory Group. The President should consider the
appointment of a Presidential Space Advisory Group to provide independent advice
on developing and employing new space capabilities.
Senior Interagency Group for Space. The President should direct that a Senior
Interagency Group for Space be established and staffed within the National Security
SecDef/DCI Relationship. The Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central
Intelligence should meet regularly to address national security space policy,
objectives and issues.
Under Secretary of Defense for Space, Intelligence and Information. Such a
position should be established to oversee DOD's research and development,
acquisition, launch and operation of its space, intelligence and information assets;
coordinate the military intelligence activities within DOD; and work with the IC on
long-range intelligence requirements for national security.
Commander in Chief of U.S. Space Command and NORAD and Commander,
Air Force Space Command. The Secretary of the Air Force should assign
responsibility for the command of Air Force Space Command to a four-star officer
other than CINCSPACEICINCNORAD. The Secretary of Defense should end the
practice of assigning only Air Force flight-rated officers to the positions of
CINCSPACE and CINCNORAD to ensure that an officer from any Service with an
understanding of combat and space could be assigned to this position.
Military Services. The Air Force should realign headquarters and field commands
to more effectively organize, train, and equip for prompt and sustained space
operations. Air Force Space Command should have responsibility for providing the
resources to execute space research, development, acquisition and operations. The
Army and Navy would still establish requirements and develop and deploy space
systems unique to each Service. Title 10 U.S.C. should be amended to assign the
Air Force responsibility to organize, train and equip for prompt and sustained
offensive and defensive air and space operations. Also, the SecDef should designate
the Air Force as Executive Agent for Space within DOD.
Aligning Air Force and NRO Space Programs. The Under Secretary of the Air
Force should be assigned as Director of the National Reconnaissance Office and as
Acquisition Executive for Space.
Innovative Research and Development. The SecDef and DCI should direct the
creation of an organization to focus on the requirement for innovative research and
development. The SecDef should direct the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency and the Service's laboratories to undertake development and demonstration
of innovative space technologies and systems for dedicated military missions.
10. Budgeting for Space. The SecDef should establish a Major Force Program for
Space to provide better visibility into the level and distribution of fiscal and personnel
resources, improving management and oversight of space programs.
11. Congress. Congress will play a key role in reviewing and coordinating many of the
recommendations in this report and helping promote greater public understanding of
the importance of national security space.
The report also calls for an early review of national space policy and a review of the
approach the United States takes to intelligence collection from space. Two other themes
are emphasized. One is that U.S. government policy should ensure that conditions exist
so that the U.S. comnercial space industry can field systems one generation ahead of its
foreign competitors, and that the U. S. government can field systems one generation ahead
of the commercial sector. The other is that the United States needs to accelerate space
control efforts to prevent a "Space Pearl Harbor," including making better assessments of
the threat environment to space systems (including satellites in orbit, their launch sites, and
the ground stations needed to communicate with the satellites).
Key Issues Regarding Organization and Management
The Commission took a broad look at DOD and IC space activities. Following are
three recommendations from the report regarding organization and management that may
be an initial focus of congressional attention.
The Concept of a "Space Force". One of the factors that led Congress to
create the Rumsfeld Commission was concern that the Air Force was not devoting
sufficient attention to space policy and programs. According to the Commission's report
(p. xxii), 85% of DOD's space-related budget activity is within the Air Force. An Air
Force General serves as Commander in Chief of U.S. Space Command (CINCSPACE).
U.S. Space Command is one of the nine U.S. unified commands, with component
commands fromthe Arrny, Navy, and Air Force. CINCSPACE also serves as Commander
in Chief of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (CINCNORAD), a joint
U.S .-Canadian organization that monitors objects in Earth orbit and detects, validates, and
warns of attacks against North America by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles. He also
serves as Commander of Air Force Space Command. Still, according to the report, "Many
believe the Air Force treats space solely as a supporting capability [to] ... air operations.
Despite official doctrine that calls for the integration of space and air capabilities, the Air
Force does not treat the two equally." (p. xxii-xxiii)
Some argue that it is now time to create a Space Force separate from the Air Force,
just as the Air Force was separated from the Army in 1947, to increase attention to and
resources for national security space activities. The Commission did not recommend
establishing a Space Force today, but stated that it almost certainly would happen
sometime in the hture. For now, it made sweeping recommendations about reorganizing
management of national security space programs. In the mid-term, it suggested a "Space
Corps" rnight be created within the Air Force, similar to the Marine Corps within the
Department of the Navy, someday leading to a separate Space Force.
Among the advocates of a Space Force is Senator Bob Smith, who is widely credited
with spearheading creation ofthe Rumsfeld Commissionto address that issue in particular.
In a January 11, 2001 press release, Senator Smith stated "'The Commission's
recommendations lay the foundations for what I have oRen maintained-that we should
evolve to the eventual creation of a separate Space Force. These near-term management
and organization reforms will begin to put in place the leadership and advocacy for space
programs that have long been lacking." Separately, Air Force Chief of Staff Michael Ryan
was quoted (Aerospace Daily, February 9, 2001, p. 217) as saying that neither a Space
Force nor a Space Corps will be needed for at least 50 years.
Also, the Commission recommended a change in the practice of assigning only flightrated Air Force Generals as CINCSPACEICINCNORAD so that officers from any of the
services with knowledge of combat and space could be eligible. It also recommended that
two different four-star officers serve as CINCSPACEICINCNORAD and Commander of
Air Force Space Command instead of the same person.
Organization within DOD and the IC. For the near-term, the Commission
made many recommendations to reorganize DOD and IC to manage space activities more
effectively. The report includes a pull-out chart showing the dozens of organizations
within DOD and IC involved in national security space activities. DOD and the IC have
tried a number of organizational models already. The Commission recommended another
rearrangement. Two of its proposals that are garnering attention are to create a new
Under Secretary of Defense for Space, Intelligence, and Information, and to expand the
duties of the Under Secretary of the Air Force to include serving as Director of the
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO, which builds and operates the nation's
reconnaissance satellites) and as Air Force Acquisition Executive for Space.
Today, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Communications, Control,
and Intelligence, or ASD (C3I), serves as the focal point within DOD for space and spacerelated activities. The ASD (C3I) coordinates space policy and acquisition and has
responsibility for certain aspects of DOD intelligence agencies. In addition, the National
Security Space Architect (NSSA) develops mid- and long-term space architectures for
DOD and intelligence space mission areas, reporting both to the ASD (C31) and to the
Community Intelligence Staff under the Director of Central Intelligence. The NSSA has
no authority over budgets or acquisition, however. The Director of the NRO also serves
as an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, but has no responsibility for non-NKO Air
Force space activities, which are under the Air Force Acquisition Executive.
The Commission would create a new position of Under Secretary of Defense for
Space, Intelligence, and Information, or USD (SII), to provide policy, guidance, and
oversight for space within a single organization in the Office of the Secretary of Defense
(OSD). The new position would absorb the duties of the ASD (C31) and serve as the
senior OSD advocate for space. Within the Air Force, the Commission recommended that
the Director of the NRO also serve as an Under Secretary of the Air Force (a higher level
than an Assistant Secretary), and as the Air Force Acquisition Executive for Space,
integrating NRO and other Air Force space activities. Furthermore, the Commission
called for emendation of Title 10 of the U.S. Code to give the Air Force responsibility to
organize, train and equip for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air and space
operations, instead of only air operations as currently stated.
According to Space News (January 22, 2081, p. 14), as he ended his t e r n as
Secretary of the Air Force, Whitten Peters criticized the Commission's recommendations,
saying that giving the undersecretary of the Air Force additional responsibilities for NRO
would overburden that individual. (Others note, however, that the Director of the NRO
used to serve also as an Under Secretary of the Air Force.) Mr. Peters added that creating
new positions and reassigning duties could create difficult situations because there would
be "two potentially divergent defense acquisition executives...and two service acquisition
executives." Conversely, a February 8, 2001 Reuters story quoted Air Force Maj. Gen.
Brian Arnold as saying the Air Force "strongly supports the ... report and is already
moving to implement many of (its) recommendations."
White House Organization: SlGlSpace Versus a Space Council. Some
space advocates had hoped that the Rumsfeld Commissionwould recommend reactivation
of the National Space Council within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate
military, civilian, and cornmercial space policy. The 1958 Act (P.L. 85-568) that created
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct U. S. civilian space
activities and directed DOD to conduct military space activities, established a National
Aeronautics and Space Council within the White House to coordinate between the two
agencies. President Nixon abolished that Council in 1973. Several mechanisms were tried
in the ensuing years to coordinate space policy. The Reagan Administration used a Senior
Interagency GroupISpace (SIGISpace) within the National Security Council (NSC) to
serve that role. A number of criticisms were levied against SIGISpace. In particular, many
were dismayed by the length of time needed to make space policy decisions in the wake
of the space shuttle Challenger tragedy in 1986. Congress subsequently passed a bill
creating a National Space Council in the Executive Office of the President. President
Reagan vetoed that bill, but two years later, at the end of his second term, signed into law
(P.L.100-685) a less prescriptive version of the language. President George H. Bush
formally created the National Space Council by Executive Order 12675 in April 1999. By
law, the Space Council is chaired by the Vice President.
President Clinton chose not to use the Space Council. It was never abolished, but
was neither staffed nor h d e d . Instead, military space policy was coordinated by the
NSC, and civilian and commercial space policy by the National Science and Technology
Council, a cabinet-level council chaired by the President, with administrative support from
the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The Rumsfeld Commission did not recommend reactivation of the Space Council,
however. Instead, it first called for the President to create a "President's Space Advisory
Group" of high-level outside advisors as a counterpart to the President's Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). Second, it recommended a return to the SIGISpace
model used in the Reagan Administration to coordinate space policy across the defense,
intelligence, civil, and cornmercial sectors. It noted that the current NSC official
responsible for space has too many areas to cover and insufficient resources, resulting in
a case-by-case approach to space policy that "has not allowed the development of a
coherent, persistent and deliberate national process.. ." (page 50). The Commission's
report does not discuss the Space Council option and why it chose SIGISpace instead. In
response to a question following a February 1, 2001 speech, however, one of the
commissioners commented that some members of the Commission thought the Space
Council had been overly bureaucratic. Other observers note that a similar complaint about
SIGISpace in the Reagan White House led to the 1989 creation of the Space Council.