What are the challenges in aligning Space Security Strategy with Military CONOPs?

Global security concerns, such as the Hamas attacks on Israel, have led to the need for a robust C4ISR network to facilitate real-time intelligence and decision-making. Space-based assets have emerged as indispensable tools for secure military operations, and India’s private sector space players are a dynamic force in the nation’s defense strategy. A well-coordinated, whole-of-nation approach is needed to ensure India’s space security is comprehensive and resilient.

The National Space Security Policy will play a pivotal role in shaping India’s stance on secure and peaceful space utilization for national security. It will require redefining the strategic security framework and concept of operations to yield the desired results for strategic applications of space. This policy will lays the groundwork for a coordinated and effective approach to space activities critical for India’s defense and maintaining harmony and peaceful coexistence in outer space.

Understanding the difference between “militarisation” and “weaponisation” of space is essential for formulating space laws and policies that enhance space security. Space support measures for enhancing combat readiness and counter-space measures for safeguarding assets are prompted, emphasizing the need for a robust National Space Security Policy.

The Indian Space Policy, released on 20 April 2023, outlines plans for commercial space activities by private enterprises, including satellite launches and ground stations. However, it does not exclusively focus on space security for defence applications. The National Space Security Policy will redefine India’s approach to peaceful space utilization with clear security considerations. Enhancing defence space preparedness requires bolstering space security policy with defence space doctrine and strategy.

The policy should navigate the dual dilemma of tagging satellites as military, civil, or dual-use. Prioritizing dual-use satellites, building consensus, and maintaining a transparent and adaptive approach to space policy can help India leverage advantages and flexibility while contributing to a more stable and peaceful space environment.

Space is a strategic and limited resource, and restricting ownership for exclusive use of specific organizations places all users at a disadvantage. The current economic climate does not allow selective use of space-based assets in departmental silos. Dual-use space assets offer advantages not only for military applications but also positively impact the economy by meeting the needs of both civil and commercial sectors.

Ownership and management of space assets are crucial for customised quality end-product and timely delivery. ISRO should continue futuristic technology research and transfer it to private players, while the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should adopt targeted research to address space defense gaps.

The ownership and management of space infrastructure in India is crucial due to the long gestation periods and security concerns. A multi-service provider approach is a suitable solution for a country with vast human resources and security challenges. A 30:70 government-private collaboration model can ensure consistency and economy. The private space sector in India is dynamic and proactive, and a well-defined policy framework is needed to establish an assembly line for niche satellite productions. The Indian Space Association (ISpA) and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) should work together to channel industrial talent and resources in specific domains for optimal employment and utilization.

To ensure secure delivery of end products, algorithms governing these systems should feature multiple encryption layers, meticulously crafted by subject matter expert government organizations. This guarantees a wide range of operational flexibility in the use of privately-owned and sustained satellite networks. Highly secure customised ground and user segment infrastructure is owned by users, while encrypted high-value finished products are delivered by private space players equipped with artificial intelligence and integrated tools.

Fortifying India’s national defence capabilities in space requires an architectural review of the Space Commission, which should include representatives from all stakeholders responsible for planning, designing, developing, executing, and sustaining strategic space requirements from a national security perspective. This approach streamlines efforts, reduces redundancies, and ensures a unified and coordinated national approach to scalability and standardization in space.

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