Applauding Proposed Changes to Commercial Satellite Services for Defense

Chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Congressman Mike Rogers provided some encouraging insights into how the U.S. military should change the way it purchases commercial satellite services.

In a recent Space News Op-Ed, Congressman Rogers highlighted how current procurement practices are too expensive, lack foresight, can compromise the mission and are disadvantageous to industry partners.

Not only does the Congressman recognize that short term leases and “spot market” purchases of commercial satellite communications (COMSATCOM) services are too costly in this budget environment, he also discusses the controversial use of  services delivered by a  Chinese provider.  There is a vital need to change the current structure in ways that benefit both industry and government, reducing costs and ensuring that the U.S. military is not reliant on Chinese satellite systems.

The Congressman says: “A smarter acquisition program for these services is not just good business sense, it’s a critical imperative that will allow us to stretch scarce defense resources at a time when space is more important and more threatened by America’s adversaries and competitors.”

With regards to industry, Rogers said the current procurement model does not allow commercial providers to plan for stable government purchases.  With minimal identification of requirements and only short-term commitments, it is difficult for industry to invest in the capacity for future needs.  This will also aid the government in ensuring that there is satcom capacity when and where it is needed, particularly as the military posture pivots to places like the Pacific.

The timing couldn’t be better for this more flexible approach. The recently passed 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) specifically calls for the DoD to pursue a multi-year procurement strategy for commercial satellite communications.

Now more than ever, both the U.S. military and commercial satellite operators need to develop the right programs that allow our military to be the most advanced in the world.  As the Pentagon and the Administration engage in the next round of Industrial Base studies, we should consider all the companies that make up this critical group of suppliers, especially those who are the leading agents for change.

For more than 20 years, we have collectively worked together to provide unparalleled space-based services. The Congressman’s vision will continue to pave the way for satellite communications, helping our military best mitigate emerging threats in ways that are much more efficient and cost-effective.

On behalf of our commercial space peers, we at Intelsat General applaud Congressman Rogers for supporting a much-needed change in how the government procures and leverages commercial satellite services.  Our vision remains fully in line with Congressman Rogers:  providing the right services that support the warfighter and advance the mission in a more cost-effective manner.

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