Space and National Security

September 17, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Featured speaker:
Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global and Strategic Affairs
Michael Krepon, Stimson Co-founder/Senior Associate and Director of the Space Security program

Space and National Security

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global and Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon joined Michael Krepon to discuss space and national security. At the event, Stimson launched its new monograph, Anti-satellite Weapons, Deterrence and Sino-American Space Relations.

Creedon spoke at length about the parallels and dissimilarities between space and nuclear deterrence. She argued that many of the principles of nuclear deterrence can be applied to outer space, stating "deterrence is deterrence." She defined the three primary factors of deterrence as: to deny benefit, to impose cost, and to encourage restraint.

She addressed current Department of Defense policies and actions regarding deterrence in space, outlining four pillars: internationalizing norms, building coalitions and consensus, increasing the resiliency of space architecture, and preparing to be able to respond to an attack on space architecture - though not necessarily in space. She noted that it is in the U.S. interest to reserve the ambiguity to respond when, where, and how, and that bolstering these four pillars not only strengthens deterrence, but also serves as preparation to be able to operate through and respond to any attack on U.S. space architecture.

Creedon stated that the U.S. approach to space deterrence aims to balance the desire to preserve space as a peaceful global commons with the need to ensure that U.S. space assets can overcome any disruption. She emphasized the need to dissuade attacks on U.S. satellites by varied means. The United States will regard any attack on a space-based asset as an attack on its physical territory.

Creedon highlighted efforts to internationalize norms and build coalitions, supporting efforts to do so in the Group of Governmental Experts that recently reached consensus on the need for transparency and confidence-building measures in space. She noted in particular Russia's leadership in the GGE effort, and China's acceptance, in principle, of an international code of conduct for responsible space-faring nations. She also supported efforts by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) to develop norms for space-faring nations. 

Creedon argued that partnerships in space enhance deterrence. Two specific examples she offered were the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) communication and Polar Communication and Weather (PCW) meteorological satellite constellations.

Creedon commended the Stimson Center for conceptualizing and taking the lead in pursuing an international code of conduct for responsible space-faring nations.

To read Ms. Creedon's remarks, click here.


Madelyn Creedon was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs on August 2, 2011. In this capacity she supports the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in overseeing policy development and execution in the areas of countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, U.S. nuclear forces and missile defense, and DOD cyber security and space issues.
Prior to her confirmation, Creedon was counsel for the Democratic staff on the Senate Committee on Armed Services and was responsible for the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces as well as threat reduction and nuclear nonproliferation issues.
In 2000, she left the Armed Services Committee to become the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy (DOE), and returned to the Committee in January 2001. 

Creedon is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law, where she was captain of the moot court team. Her undergraduate degree is in political science from the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana.

For more information please contact Julia Thompson at [email protected] or 202-478-3432