A lesson from America?


As South Africa awaits a new defence policy – and perhaps a new defence-industrial policy as well – it may be instructive to look across the Atlantic to see what our North American friends are up to.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) there last week (February 9) expressed itself “very encouraged” that a US National Security Space Strategy newly released there emphasises the need for a healthy space industrial base. “We’ve long supported a more cohesive, strategic approach to managing our nation’s space enterprise,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey in a statement. “The strategy’s commitment to maintaining a healthy industrial base, including focused science, research and development efforts and promoting … education and professional development is crucial to success in the space arena.”

The AIA added it “believes it is absolutely critical to establish an open and ongoing dialogue and partnership with the US Defense Department and the Intelligence Community to develop and execute the implementation plans needed to move forward. In addition, securing the budgets and funding needed to realise this strategy and to deliver vital space capabilities to our nation is of utmost importance. Defence Secretary [Robert] Gates and Director of National Intelligence [James] Clapper are to be congratulated for the first ever jointly signed National Security Space strategy,” Blakey continued. “In today’s contested, congested and competitive space environment having a clearly enunciated plan in which government and industry work together is more important than ever.”

Amen to that; and to continue the religious, may it be so on Earth (in Pretoria), not just the heavens (or Washington).