As DOD publicly acknowledges danger, Turner continues to warn about space weapons

Dayton Republican hails acknowledgement of threat in open testimony Wednesday

Since going public in recent weeks with concerns about suspected Russian development of satellite-destroying nuclear weapons, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner continues to sound the alarm, most recently questioning defense leaders — and asking them to spell out the consequences of such weapons.

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, Turner, R-Dayton, noted that Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb, in written testimony to the committee, acknowledged that Russia is developing a “concerning anti-satellite capability” that could “pose a threat to all satellites operated by countries and companies around the globe as well as the vital communication, scientific, meteorological, agriculture, commercial, and national security services we all depend upon.”

Said Turner, according to a transcript of that hearing, “This is the first time that the administration has approved anyone in an open, unclassified session making that statement.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

In a new interview Friday, Turner said the testimony was the “first time that publicly they’ve engaged to acknowledge the threat.”

“This is the first time they’ve begun to acknowledge publicly and in a way that both industry and the American public and our allies can understand,” he said.

Such a weapon threatens the nation’s way of life, the congressman said.

“That’s the part that needs to be told,” Turner said. “From the way that we tell time to the way that we share financial data and information, communicate, to the way we plant crops and build roads and bridges — it would change our use of space.”

While the threat is not “imminent in the way that we should have to worry about it right now,” Plumb last week said the Biden administration is concerned.

In the same hearing, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was even more clear.

“It would have devastating consequences on a lot of our capabilities in space — not only our capabilities but the capabilities of other countries,” Austin testified. “And so, for that reason, we think it’s irresponsible for anybody to even consider deploying or employing a nuclear device in space.”

“I believe that this is a Cuban Missile Crisis in space, and this administration is sleepwalking itself into an international crisis,” Turner told Austin.

In mid-February, Turner, chairman of the Permanent House Select Committee on Intelligence, defended his decision to go public with warnings that classified intelligence showed Russia working on a new space weapon.

“They needed to know this information,” Turner told “Meet the Press” in February.

“I was concerned that it appeared that the administration was sleepwalking into an international crisis,” he said. “But it looks like now they’re going to be able to take action.”

In February, at the time of Turner’s initial warnings, the White House rejected his request to declassify relevant intelligence on the issue. (At the time, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Turner’s move “surprised” him.) The Intelligence Committee also voted to make the data available to all members of Congress, an unusual move.

Turner has long been an advocate for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is home to a pair of key military intelligence agencies, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and the National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC), whose work focuses on threats to national security in the air and beyond.



Turner regularly visits the base and meets with airmen and U.S. Space Force guardians at those and other missions at Wright-Patterson.

In his interview with this newspaper, Turner declined to say what role those centers play in the gathering of relevant intelligence.

But he did say: “NASIC and NSIC at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are essential in both the use and the protection of our space assets.”

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