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Author Christopher Stone addresses space deterrence at Peterson

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Christopher Stone, author of “Reversing the Tao: A Framework for Credible Space Deterrence,” spoke at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, as one of the National Security Space Institute’s Space Professionals Speaker Series guest speakers, Aug. 15, 2018. Stone analyzed his book and discussed space deterrence, Chinese strategic culture and defending U.S. space infrastructure in Building 1’s auditorium. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A former student of the National Security Space Institute returned to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Aug. 15, 2018, to present his analysis of Department of Defense space deterrence from his book, “Reversing the Tao: A Framework for Credible Space Deterrence.”

Christopher Stone, the author of the book that was added to the NSSI 2018 Space Professional Reading List, spoke in Building 1’s auditorium as part of the NSSI’s guest lecture series to discuss space deterrence, Chinese strategic culture and defending U.S. space infrastructure.

Stone currently works as the special assistant to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He has also served in active, reserve and guard components; and has served at tactical, operational and strategic levels as a space operations officer. He was invited to Peterson AFB to speak about his book.

Stone believes the U.S. should redirect its mentality when it comes to space deterrence.

“I don’t think [the U.S.] has been thinking correctly about deterrence escalation and space power,” Stone said. “Since the end of Cold War, we have overly focused on the service-provider, terrestrial-support mentality because that’s all we thought we needed at the time. We didn’t think we needed a whole lot of counter space modes because in the early 90s — we were it.”

In the past 15 years, Stone said other countries have been thinking more strategically about space as a means of countering U.S. advantages through their testing and developing of space systems.

“It wasn’t until 2014 when people started to take notice that space is not a sanctuary after all,” Stone said. “As much as we try to keep it that way, it’s not going to work that way. The hard part is getting people to understand that you can’t do mirror imaging and be effective in a multipolar world. You shouldn’t say, ‘We wouldn’t do it, therefore [our adversaries] wouldn’t do it.’”

The U.S. should focus on analyzing and understanding the strategies being developed by other countries, and be ready to field forces and strategies to effectively counter them and sustain our advantages, said Stone.

“China has a long view and they take little steps; sometimes we’ve helped them overtly and sometimes inadvertently progress their space technology,” Stone said. “Now they’re a near-peer or peer in some areas.

“Their goal, according to their writings, is space dominance. Space dominance is tied to their proactive deterrence posture, which is summarizing their phrase ‘attack to terror.’”

China follows a philosophy called the Tao, translated as “the way,” Stone said.

“Tao is based on a harmony-friction dichotomy. Wherever there’s harmony, there has to be friction,” Stone said. “The goal is to generate as much friction on the opposing side as possible to create harmony on your side.”

China also uses a strategic philosophy that focuses on an enemy’s lack of defense, lack of capability or vulnerability, Stone said.

“We should reverse Tao on them at the strategic level,” Stone said. “We should tailor our approach to space deterrence based on our analysis on their intentions and values: their ‘why.’”

Discussing the key points in his book and returning to Peterson AFB as an author was an honor, Stone said.

“NSSI brought me out here and treated me really well,” Stone said. “They allowed me to talk to students, faculty, and Air Force Space Command people who showed up. I never expected my book to get this attention at all — I hope it’s useful and helpful for people.”