Hubble Satellite

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work on Wednesday underscored growing concerns about potential threats to key military and intelligence satellites, and said the U.S. government needed innovative and integrated ways to respond to any such attacks.

Work told a classified session at the annual Space Symposium conference that space assets were “absolutely critical” to the U.S. military’s ability to operate and fight future wars, and the Pentagon would take action to defend those assets, according to his spokeswoman, Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson.

Work said government and industry needed to work together to find innovative ways to protect satellites and the networks used to operate them, she said.

“We depend on space for everything from space-based communications, to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to positioning, navigation and timing,” she said Work told 200 military and industry executives.

Work also said it was important to emphasize control of space assets as challenges arose, and that the U.S. government needed to respond in an integrated and coordinated manner if an adversary targeted those systems and capabilities.

Admiral James Winnefeld told Reuters last month that the U.S. military was taking a broader look at the overall issue of “space control,” but provided no further details.

Work told the conference that both classified and unclassified space assets needed protection and the Pentagon would maintain its space capabilities, “through all phases of conflict, regardless of actions to deny us the ultimate high ground,” Hillson said.

The Pentagon is seeking an initial $5.5 billion over the next five years to beef up protection of space assets and ground networks in the wake of growing threats from China and other countries.