New Advisory Role Gives James a Stronger Voice in Space Operations

In a wide-ranging Space News interview, sponsored by Intelsat General Corp., Air Force Sec. Deborah Lee James outlined her duties as the new Principal Defense Space Advisor and warned about the dangers of budget cuts in space. James said that continued sequestration could reduce military satellite launches from five to four in 2016 and also could delay Congress-mandated development of a replacement for the Russian-built RD-180 rocket engine.

James said her new advisory job would add an important duty that goes beyond the Executive Agent for Space role she has carried for two years. “I’ll still present people’s differing views, but then I’ll lean in and say, ‘Here’s what I recommend. Here’s what I think. Here’s what I’m advocating for,” she said.

James also spoke of development of the Joint Space Tactics and Doctrine Forum and the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSOC). Led by Adm. Cecil Haney, the STRATCOM commander, the forum is charged with developing doctrine to cope with increasing congestion in space that carries with it a threat to U.S. defense. The JICSOC is to implement that doctrine through training and tactics, techniques and procedures.

In introducing James in the interview (below), Intelsat General President Kay Sears lauded the Secretary’s work in trying to streamline contract award and alternative analysis processes and urged her to include “commercial satcom in future satcom architecture discussions to ensure the most robust and expansive communications network for the military.”

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