Department of Defense leadership have asserted that slow space acquisition timelines may threaten American space superiority, but the link between acquisition timelines and space conflict has not been rigorously investigated in prior research. This dissertation questions that assertion through a mixed-methods approach of game-theoretic modeling and case study analysis. I found primarily that acquisition timelines drive underlying strategies, but not necessarily the outcomes of space conflict and deterrence. If an actor is at a disadvantage, they can mitigate that disadvantage by investing in relatively simple redundancies and resiliencies supporting their space architecture and remain reserved through conflict. In the case of parity, I find the appropriate strategy is to invest in complex systems and to take an assertive posture in conflict. Given leadership's statements and this dissertations' conclusions on American space acquisition timelines, the United States should focus its investments on relatively simple investments that support its resilience in space. This does not, however, suggest that the United States should abandon its space acquisition reform efforts, as those may improve broader conflict dynamics and space acquisition efficiencies.
This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2019 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of William Shelton (Chair), Bonnie Triezenberg, and Jonathan Wong.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.
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