28 January 1998. Thanks to Dan Dupont.

Inside the Pentagon

Date: January 28, 1999

Lawmakers said to rely on special interests, 'ignore' military


Daniel G. Dupont

The Defense Department's recently increased emphasis on "space control" initiatives was prompted in part by the belief that key members of Congress are ignoring DOD and turning to "special interest groups" for ideas on the controversial mission area, according to Pentagon documents and sources.

A program budget decision issued by the Pentagon comptroller last month indicates that key military officials believe DOD must reassert itself on space control matters lest private groups usurp the initiative and drive Congress toward further actions -- adding funds for unwanted space control programs -- that are counter to the administration's desires.

"The reluctance with which we have executed these congressional adds and our unwillingness to budget for space control have caused several key members of Congress to ignore the Department and to turn to outside special interest groups for ideas on how the Department should address the space control mission area," the PBD states.

"I've never seen anything so candid," said John Pike, director of space policy at the Federation of American Scientists. "I can't believe that anyone wrote this down. It's breathtaking."

Instead of focusing on the threat posed by enemy satellites and anti-satellite weapons, he contends, the document mostly deals with the political basis for the decision to add space control funds.

"It's totally divorced from any discussion of what the country actually needs," Pike said.

A congressional staff member agrees. "It's strange," he said of the PBD's language. "It's bizarre. I'm surprised they left it in. [It says] 'We want to appease Congress."

Congress has been largely responsible for whatever space control efforts the Pentagon has pursued in recent years, while the administration has maintained that some of those efforts -- including an Army anti-satellite missile, the Military Space Plane and the Clementine II project -- are unnecessary.

President Clinton, in fact, used his briefly held line-item veto power in 1998 to cancel congressional funding for all three of those efforts, which had "raised concerns within the administration regarding treaty compliance [and] the militarization of space," DOD documents state. When the line-item veto law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the funds were returned to the Defense Department for the space-related efforts.

The debate, however, did not end. Republicans like Sen. Bob Smith (NH) continue to insist the administration change course and begin developing and deploying weapons to deny enemies the use of space.

A year ago, in an effort to "re-inject the department into the congressional dialogue on space control," Defense Secretary William Cohen told lawmakers he would initiate a comprehensive study of the topic, documents state. As a result of his intervention, Congress reversed course later in the year and did not add significant funding to major space control efforts like the Army's Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite system, which had been kept alive for years because of congressional adds.

Instead, Congress set aside $7.5 million for a new "space control technology program to be defined by the department," states the Pentagon comptroller's office PBD 747, obtained by Inside the Pentagon. The report accompanying the FY-99 Defense Appropriations Act also allowed the Defense Department to spend some of the leftover FY-98 funds from the KE-ASAT and Clementine II programs on the new program.

The deal worked out between the administration and Congress, however, must be backed up by Pentagon funding, the document states.

"To keep faith with the Congress and to continue with this new spirit of cooperation, it is imperative that the Department's FY 2000 budget include funds to continue the new Space Control Technology program," states the PBD, signed on Dec. 18.

Accordingly, the Pentagon directed the Air Force to add find billpayers to offset a new $10 million annual program line over fiscal years 2000 through 2005, the PBD states (Inside the Pentagon, Jan. 14, p1). The additional funding was first reported Jan. 8 by Inside the Air Force.

"Such a budget request would encourage the space control proponents within the Congress to deal with the Department rather than with special interest groups, and it might preclude FY 2000 congressional adds for programs that the Department does not need and cannot afford," the document continues. "The budgeted funds would enable the Department to address some very real problems that exist in the space control mission area."

A GOP Senate staff member warned, however, that "the assumption that this will preclude congressional adds is a bit of a stretch on their part." Other than that, he added, "I'm essentially pleased by the tone" of the PBD, especially the "acknowledgment that there are very real problems in the space control area."

The PBD states the new program effectively implements a National Space Policy presidential decision directive (NSC-49/NSTC-8) issued in 1996. The directive, according to the PBD, "declares that national security space activities shall (1) deter, warn and defend against enemy attack; (2) assure that hostile forces cannot prevent our own use of space; (3) counter, if necessary, space systems and services used for hostile purposes; and (4) ensure our ability to conduct military and intelligence space-related activities."

The new program is not designed to "fund all DOD space control activities, but to ensure an integrated approach for space control as well as developing and prototyping new space control technologies," the PBD states (see related story).

The document adds that while the Air Force will control the $50 million added by the PBD to the Space Control Technology program, the other services should not feel left out: "The Army and the Navy are encouraged to consider establishing similar programs within their appropriations during the FY 2001-2005 [program objective memorandum] formulation."

The projects that will be funded by the FY-99 and FY-00 money set aside for space control will be outlined in a report to Congress due Feb. 15. Beginning in 2001, however, those projects "to be included within the Space Control Technology program shall be identified during the POM phase of the [budget] cycle and shall be reviewed through the normal program and budget reviews."