On Trump’s 2019 declaration “space is the new war-fighting domain.”

I think the message that “space is a war-fighting domain” is a very ill-conceived message externally, even if it is relevant and important internally.

On the basis of my own experience, I understand the intent of the message internally within the military – to cause a change of focus and culture to think of space not just as a supporting domain, but as a supported domain, possibly as the primary domain for operational action.

But that’s not what others are going to hear. Externally it would have been far more helpful to say something like: “The US encourages responsible use of space in all contexts, even in the context of escalated tensions or outright hostilities. Whatever the context, the US will be prepared to use space in accordance with international law, to protect and pursue its interests, and prevent irresponsible behaviour involving outer space.” It’s not as pithy, I admit! NATO did far better simply labelling space as an ‘operational domain’.

The opinions expressed here are not given in any official capacity.

Duncan Blake Author

Duncan Blake is a Senior Research Associate at the University of New South Wales in Canberra (at the Australia Defence Force Academy). He is a former permanent, and current Reserve, RAAF legal officer who has done space law and strategy in military, commercial, inter-governmental and academic contexts for over a decade.

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