Military Space

The Director of the NRO emphasizes collaboration and innovation

After signing a statement that clearly specifies each organization’s missions and duties, NRO Director Christopher Scolese announced on August 24 at the 36th Space Symposium that National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is working effectively with the US Space Force and US Space Command.

Scolese, Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations, and US Army General James H. Dickinson, Commander of US Space Command, signed the Protect and Defend Strategic Framework, which “formalizes end-to-end operations” between the intelligence community and the Defense Department “on everything from procurement to operations,” according to Scolese. “It outlines and deconflicts each of our jobs in practical terms. It promotes purposeful and consistent coordination at different levels. It establishes a crisis management plan and enhances communication. Most critically, it establishes a previously unseen level of cooperation on all areas of space security.”

The formation of the United States Space Force and United States Space Command in 2019 as well as the United States Space Systems Command originally this year sparked discussion about how the various entities would share responsibilities. In their addresses at the Space Symposium, Scolese and Raymond emphasized the need for collaboration. Raymond stated on August 24 that “our cooperation with National Reconnaissance Office has never really been stronger.” “Everything we do is influenced by our cooperation. People are shared by us. We have operations centers that we share. We worked together to launch systems. We work together to invest in and build new capabilities. And, while we have different missions, we both work in the same field.”

Ex NRO Deputy Director Major General Michael Guetlein now leads Space Systems Command, as Scolese mentioned. The partnership between NRO as well as Space Systems Command will “get even better with time on” as a result of this appointment, according to Scolese.

According to Scolese, the US space agencies are cooperating to oppose global rivalry in space. Scolese stated, “China and Russia already have demonstrated that space is… a struggle.” “If we’re not careful, it’ll devolve into a heavy hit, drag-out brawl, which none of us want.” Scolese hinted at cyber-attacks while mentioning Chinese and Russian counterspace weapons.

Scolese stated, “In summary, China is demonstrating an unquenchable desire to move ahead of us and seize what has been our tactical intelligence edge since” President John F. Kennedy was in office. “How we beat off this rivalry and where we go next is mainly determined by how quickly we speed our growth and how much we can improve our existing space capabilities.”

The National Reconnaissance Office is modernizing its intelligence satellite constellation, which collects imagery and data for US government entities and allies. “Last year, amid a pandemic, we launched 12 cargos in orbit on six missions from two continents,” Scolese added. “It’s nearly a payload month if you consider the 4 payloads, we deployed earlier this year.” NRO wants to launch four rockets in 29 days in 2022. Nonetheless, Scolese stated that the organization is working to implement advanced technology even faster.

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