UPDATE 06/19/08: Undersecretary Young signed a memo making the shakeup official.
Alert for those who sell and build the nation’s military and intelligence satellites. You know that space programs have been wallowing in hip-deep trouble for most of the last four years. Well, John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (in the picture), is trying to do something lasting about it by signing a memo by the end of the week creating a new director-level position –- one of only seven in the department reporting directly to him –- for space and intelligence capabilities.
My source says the position is being created because there just isn’t enough focus on space and intelligence programs (a lot of the big intel programs are space programs) at the OSD level. It will oversee not only satellites but the enormous and often underfunded ground systems they depend on.
Some of the responsibilities being placed in this new slot are coming from John Grimes’ office. He is assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration and his main job is to serve as principal adviser to the Secretary of Defense for non-intelligence space and information superiority. But the position also ensures that intelligence data is as fused as possible and can be distributed. And he oversees DISA, which provides commercial and military satellite communications services.
A congressional aide who follows space and intelligence issues said the new position is “a good first step to try and reintegrate black and white space and strengthen the idea of an executive for space.” For those who don’t follow space acquisition closely, the executive agent for space is Mike Wynne, who also serves as Air Force Secretary. The executive agent is supposed to make sure that unclassified and classified space programs are run well and meets the nation’s needs. He is supposed to be the one-stop shop for most space acquisition and budget issues and is supported by the National Security Space Office. But the black and white sides of space have drifted pretty far apart over the last four years, with the NRO withdrawing its personnel and budgetary support about two years ago from the space office.
But the congressional aide does not think the black and white sides of space are going to be well integrated “during Bush because of issues” in the office of the Director of national Intelligence. But the new position “should help keep the need for a strong executive agent for space front and center.”