Help protect critical infrastructure for a safer world!

US Congress Focuses on Space Vulnerability in Defense Act

January 1, 2014

There were unexpected gifts for the navigation and timing community in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2014 signed by President Obama the day after Christmas. These were in the form of increased focus on the importance of space systems and their vulnerability to disruption. The law clearly expresses both Congress’ intent to remain better informed about intentional disruption incidents from abroad, and its concern that the nation does not appear to have a plan to prevent, counter, or ensure the resilience of systems that rely upon space. Specifically, the NDAA tasks the administration with, among other things:

• Requiring Commander, Strategic Command to notify appropriate congressional committees of “…each intentional attempt by a foreign actor to disrupt, degrade, or destroy a United States national security space capability…”

(This is an important step, though it may be mostly symbolic and expressive of congressional concern. America’s largest use, by far, of national security space systems is its incorporation of the GPS navigation and timing signal into virtually every aspect of critical infrastructure and modern life. The biggest threat, therefore, is the increasing use (as reported by the FCC) of illegal “personal privacy” jammers by US citizens. These incidents can impact everything from neighborhood cell phone service to major critical infrastructure, such as the landing systems at an airport.)

• Directing the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence to work with the National Research Council, review threats to national security space systems and report, within a year, on ways to reduce or counter them.

• Requiring the biennial “Space Protection Strategy” report to Congress to include how, in the event space systems are disrupted, DOD and the intelligence community “…plan to provide necessary national security capabilities through alternative space, airborne, or ground systems…”

(The next version of that report is due on March 15th of this year and is probably already drafted. It is unlikely that this new information will be included until the 2016 version of the strategy.)

Excerpt from the NDAA of the portion that addresses these issues:Read More

The more than 1,100 pages of the full text of the Act: Read More