Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Forum: UK Defence Space Strategy

The Changing Character of War Centre was delighted to host the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Forum on Tuesday 28 November 2017. Held in the Harold Lee Room at Pembroke College, the conference addressed the theme of ‘UK Defence Space Strategy’. In addition to the many attendees from the Ministry of Defence, the presentations and discussions saw the participation of personnel from both British and foreign armed forces, the UK and European space agencies, private sector organisations, and academic institutions.

Upon arrival, the audience were welcomed with an introductory speech by General Sir Gordon Messenger, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. This was followed by opening addresses by Will Jessett, Director of Strategic Planning at the Ministry of Defence, and Professor Fred Lamb from the University of Illinois. Professor Lamb examined the risks in developing ways of interfering with, damaging, or disabling space assets, instead emphasising “machine learning, … [and] cooperative relationships with many advanced countries, to build resiliency.”

Mr Jessett and Professor Lamb were joined in a panel discussion by Dr Rajeswari Pillari Rajagopalan, from the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), and Carissa Christensen, founder and CEO of Bryce Space. Dr Rajagopalan discussed the challenges in space defence for India, with key implications for the UK as a strong partner and ally, especially concerning international agreement in space. Moreover, Ms Christensen provided a wide range of insights on the growing role of private sector enterprise in the space domain.

Finally, the event involved four syndicate discussion sessions, providing a seminar-style focus, in which all of the conference attendees took part. Each session addressed a specific question concerning contemporary space security, with an aim to provide Ministry of Defence policy makers with options regarding the opportunities, risks and solutions available for formulating the Ends, Ways and Means of a UK Defence Space Strategy. 

The Changing Character of War Centre would like to thank General Sir Gordon Messenger, the speakers, and all the participants for a thought-provoking and valuable day.