In a paper dated the 29th of March 2018, Washington, DC’s conservative and influential Heritage Foundation discussed deterrence, the U.S., China, and space. One of the key points of the paper (highlighted on the first page) is:

  • The United States needs to demonstrate that attacks against American space systems will not paralyze or fundamentally degrade the overall military capability of the United States.

Further on, the paper lists a series of recommendations. One of the most pertinent, in our minds is:

Reducing Reliance on Space.   While increasing resilience can reduce the impact of enemy attacks on American space systems, so long as the U.S. is reliant on space, its systems will be targeted. Therefore, alongside increasing resilience there must also be an effort to reduce reliance on space systems. Some small steps have already been undertaken in this regard. The U.S. Naval Academy, for example, has reintroduced instruction in “shooting the sun,” employing a sextant and charts. The Army, meanwhile, is reinvigorating training on land navigation, again without reliance on the Global Positioning System  (GPS) network. Such measures need to be supplemented by training and practice in the conduct of more complex activities, such as joint air strikes, without the benefit of space-based communications, weather, and navigation systems.

This should be further supplemented by the establishment of terrestrial alternatives for certain functions, including navigation and timing. The United States ceased funding for the LORAN-C system of radio navigation beacons in 2009 and did not fund the proposed e-Loran successor, in the belief that GPS had made terrestrial beacons obsolete. This decision has been questioned, and in 2017, there were efforts to reinstate funding for a new e-LORAN system, including the National Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2017. These efforts should be pursued, and Congress should fund “the development, construction, and operation of a backup to the Global Positioning System,” one which does not rely upon satellites.

Link to Paper