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Gaming Space: A Game-Theoretic Methodology for Assessing the Deterrent Value of Space Control Options

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation Santa Monica

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U.S. space capabilities are at risk. Potential adversaries are well aware that U.S. transformational warfighting capabilities are increasingly reliant on support from space systems. As a result, they may be developing offensive space control OSC weapons to hold U.S. space systems at risk in crisis or attack them in war. Consistent with the inherent right of self-defense, the United States has stated it will defend its space systems.The objective of the research in this report is to help the Air Force assess the deterrent value of alternative defensive space control DSC options. Specifically, we sought to develop a methodology to identify those DSC options that would likely contribute to deterrence and those DSC options that would likely generate escalation dynamics or political costs that could further imperil U.S. interests.The research involved a four-step process. First, we reviewed national-level and U.S. Department of Defense DoD-level space policy and strategy documents for DSC guidance and direction and stance on deterrence. Next, we identified a range of OSC options that could threaten space force enhancement systems. We then identified a range of DSC options for defending against each of those OSC threats. Finally, we developed a methodology, based on sequential game theory, to assess the deterrent value, escalation dynamics, and potential political costs of the various DSC options.

Subject Categories:

  • Operations Research
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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