SecNav Voices Support for Space Agency, Offensive Cyber Ops

The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing in support of United Launch Alliance’s successful launch of the third Space Based Infrared Systems Geosynchronous Earth Orbit spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 Jan. 20, 2017. (Courtesy photo by United Launch Alliance)
The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing in support of United Launch Alliance’s successful launch of the third Space Based Infrared Systems Geosynchronous Earth Orbit spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket from Launch Complex 41 Jan. 20, 2017. (Courtesy photo by United Launch Alliance)

President Donald Trump's proposal to create a Space Force will likely cost billions, but Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer pledged his support Thursday for an organization dedicated to space operations.

In September, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson maintained that the creation of a separate Space Force would cost the Defense Department roughly $13 billion over five years.

Despite the cost of a separate space service, Spencer said he is in agreement with Wilson and Army Secretary Mark Esper that "there should be some sort of common receptacle for space assets, space technology, space acquisitions, space strategy," he told an audience at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

"We will have to wait and see how the Congress actually vets it out. ... But on a fundamental basis, whether it's a [Special Operations Command] model, whether it's its own command, I definitely support the concept that we do need a center of excellence for space," he added.

Spencer said the U.S. needs to put assets toward the space domain in the same way it does for the cyber domain.

The U.S. military has placed a strong emphasis on operating on the cyber battlefield and defending against cyberattacks.

But Spencer said the U.S. now must do more than just have a strong defensive network that's able to repel cyberattacks from potential adversaries such as Russia.

"Anyone in the cyber world knows you have to be offensive and defensive," he said. "You simply can't be defensive, because to hone the skills to be good defense, you have to be out there in the offensive theater."

Spencer said the U.S. military has "been given some authorities to do that, and we are in the right direction for addressing it."

The real challenge will be recruiting the right talent to be successful, he said.

"My question is, where are we going to continually source the talent, because the talent is changing faster than we can manage?" Spencer said. "So this is truly going to be a public-private partnership going forward."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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