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DOD Says Space Programs ‘Probably Appropriately Classified’ But Open to Changing Classification System

Classification policy

DOD Says Space Programs ‘Probably Appropriately Classified’ But Open to Changing Classification System

The Department of Defense has completed a Congressionally-mandated review of its space programs. The objective of the review is to determine whether the classification level of a program needs to be changed or if the program can be declassified altogether.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Space John Plumb told lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing on May 11 that the DOD considers its space programs “probably appropriately classified” since they comply with the standards of the current system. However, the agency may opt to make changes to its classification system, Plumb said, adding he would collaborate with lawmakers to determine whether such a modification is necessary.

The mandate for the DOD to review the classification level of its space programs comes from a provision in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. According to the law, the DOD was to complete its evaluation in April, submit a report to Congress by June, then make the necessary changes by July, C4ISRNET reported.

Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, who supported the NDAA provision, said earlier this year that the review and its results could help the public better understand what is happening in the space domain and why the government is investing in numerous new space-based capabilities. For Crow, changing the classification of a program or declassifying it completely may even facilitate collaboration between the DOD and allied partners, who may otherwise not have access to U.S. programs due to a lack of security clearance.

For Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond, who has frequently raised the issue of over-classifying military programs, making it possible to publicly communicate U.S. space capabilities may help deter adversaries from starting or extending conflict into space.

“If you have everything classified, that really limits your ability to deter conflict,” Raymond said last year.

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Category: Space