Peter A. Garretson

 Transformational Strategist, Futurist, Tech-Scout
Picture of Peter Garretson

  • Strategy and Strategic Planning
  • Air & Space Advanced Technology
  • Space Visionary 
Peter Garretson is an independent strategy and policy consultant and a Senior Fellow in Defense Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.  He was previously a transformational strategist for the USAF and an instructor at Air University's Air Command and Staff College where he leads the Space Horizons Research Task Force.  He is currently writing a book on great power competition for space resources.

He was previously Division Chief of Irregular Strategy, Plans and Policy, where his focus was on how the United States can enhance the legitimacy of partner nations through a whole-of-nation concept called Aviation Enterprise Development (AED), and proactively shape the peacetime Air Domain to deliver positive foreign policy, security, and economic outcomes for the United States and its partners. He has previously served as an Airpower strategist and strategic policy advisor to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on his Strategic Studies Group, and four years as the Chief of Future Technology for HQ USAF Strategic Planning.  He was the first serving US officer to serve as a visiting fellow at India’s premier strategic think tank, the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA) as a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) international affairs fellow. Lt Col Garretson is a former DARPA service chief's intern, Los Alamos National Lab service academy research associate, senior pilot, and winner of the NSS Space Pioneer Award.  Lt Col Garretson helped architect the Air Force Future Wargame Series from 2005-2009, as well as conceiving and executing the first-ever multi-agency deflection and disaster exercise and the first US-UK-France Trilateral strategic workshops.  He was a collaborator in a number of strategic documents, including the 2011 National Military Strategy (NMS), the NSSO Study, the UAS Flight Plan, the Air Force Vision for Learning, Air Force Energy Horizons, DARPA 100 Year Starship, and was the initiator of the Air Force Strategic Environmental Assessment, Air Force Futures Group and Blue Horizons Program.  He has published on a variety of topics including space policy, space strategy, scenario-based planning, using Space & Energy to advance to US-India Strategic Partnership, Space-Based Solar Power, Planetary Defense, the role of Science Fiction in Strategic Planning, the Future of Wargaming, Grid Computing, Augmented/Synthetic Reality, and Airpower in US strategy in Asia, and is currently writing a book on a vision and grand strategy for America in Space.  His team won the SECDEF/SECSTATE Diplomacy Development Defense D3 Innovation Challenge.  He is currently funded by the OSD MINERVA initiative to study contemporary great power attitudes toward space expansionism, territoriality, and resource nationalism.

Other Bios: CFR, IDSA, NSS, SIGMA, Lifeboat, Kurzweil, Mil Bio, Linked-In, Facebook

Peter is currently working on a book on US Space Grand Strategy.

What I'm about: I'm about catalyzing the long term survival and expansion of humanity into space.  One day I'd like to run an organization or policy think tank dedicated to space development and becoming a spacefaring civilization.

See Peter's talk, "A Billion Year Plan" at the Starship Congress here:

"One of the most inspiring and informative talks on the future of humanity ever. @GarretsonPeter is one of our heroes!"

         -- Project Ion 

New Talk: "What's your map?"

News: The  Space Solar Proposal #D3SSP won 4 awards in the SECDEF D3 Innovation Challenge on 3 Mar 2016.  Learn more at 


Publications & Interviews:

Posturing Space Forces for Operations Beyond GEO,” in the Inaugural issue of Space Force Journal, Jan 31, 2021, with David Buehler, Eric Felt, Charles Finley, Jaime Stearns, and Andy Williams

What are the Implications for a Race for Cislunar Dominance (at 1hr+20 min),” NSS, February 4, 2021, with Gen Steve Kwast, Dr. Namrata Goswami, Dr. George Nield

Ready to Launch – Space Policy in the Biden Era,” POLITICO, January 14, 2021, with Bryan Bender, Jacqueline Feldscher, Victoria Sampson and Rep Jim Cooper

Space and the next administration,” AFPC, January 13, 2021, with Bryan Bender, Jacqueline Feldscher, Victoria Sampson and Rep Jim Cooper

What War in Space Might Look Like Circa 2030-2040?,” NEPC, August 28, 2020, Sole Author

STATE OF THE SPACE INDUSTRIAL BASE 2020 A Time for Action to Sustain US Economic & Military Leadership in Space,” AFRL-DIU-USSF, July 20, 2020, Editor with Dr. David Hardy and Brigadier General Steven J. Butow, Defense Innovation Unit, Dr. Thomas Cooley, Air Force Research Laboratory, Colonel Eric Felt, Air Force Research Laboratory, Dr. Joel B. Mozer, United States Space Force

The Battle For The Soul Of The Space Force,” Medium, May 1, 2020, Interview with Time Ventura

Is the Senate Ready to Protect American Interests in Space?,” The Hill, September 11, 2019, Sole Author

A Historic National Vision for Space Power,War on the Rocks, September 9, 2019, Sole Author 

   The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop, Air Force Space Command, September 5, 2019, contributing author

US Space Command: A vision for the Final Frontier,” The Hill, August 28, 2019, Sole Author  

Space Force defenses must stretch to the moon,” The Hill, August 5, 2019, Sole Author

Air Force Suppressed Space Force Debate; Lt. Gen. Kwast Spoke Truth To Power,” Breaking Defense, August 8, 2019, Sole Author

SPACE FORCE’S JUPITER-SIZED CULTURE PROBLEM,” War on the Rocks, July 11, 2019, Sole Author

The Future of the Asian Order Will Be Decided in Space,The Diplomat, July 3, 2019, Sole Author

Why the next Space Policy Directive needs to be to the Secretary of Energy,” The Space Review, July 1, 2019, Sole Author

The purpose of a Space Force is a spacefaring economy, The Hill, June 26, 2019, Sole Author

OPINION: The first duty of a Space Force is to protect space commerce,Politico, June 21, 2019, Sole Author

Critical Shifts in India’s Outer Space Policy,” The Diplomat, April 16, 2019 with Namrata Goswami

Updating the Laws of War for the 21st Century: Time to Reconsider, and Ban, Modern Nation-Killing Acts,” The Mitchell Institute Papers, April 2019 with David Stuckenberg

Become the Hydra: Setting Leadership Expectations for Degraded Environments, Over the Horizon Journal (republished in 1 year anniversary issue), December 31, 2018 with Jonathan D. Sawtelle

Chapter 5: The Nine Distinctions: Where China has it Right and China Differs from the US in Outer Space”, in Chinese Perspectives on Space Operations and Escalation (A Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) Periodic Publication), Joint Staff, August 2018, Sole Author

Chapter 21: What’s Up There? Space ‘By the Numbers’”, in AU-18 Space Primer, Air University, 27 Aug 2018, Sole Author

Now We Can Start to Defend Planet Earth”, Over the Horizon Journal, July 27, 2018, Sole Author

Is India looking toward space-based resources?”, The Space Review, 2 October 2017, with Namrata Goswami

2017:  Democratizing the Tactile / Kinesthetic Arts.  Linkedin, 18 Sep 2017.
There was a time when if you wanted to see art, you had to go to a museum; if you wanted to hear music, you had to pay a musician; if you wanted to see dance you had to go to the ballet. There was even a time when if you wanted to know a story you had to sit at the feet of a bard.  
None of that is true today. All of our human cultural arts have fallen to media but one. The class of performance art called tactile or kinesthetic stands unchallenged, its gifts confined to time and space, and its best performances destined to be lost from our cultural space forever.

2017:  Beatific Vision: Revolutionizing Aesthetic Space.  Linkedin, 18 Sep 2017.
Abstract: We are about to be witness to a revolution in the aesthetic space. Deep reinforcement learning algorithms and large available data sets are going to allow our entire computer-mediated economy to wake up to beauty. This will positively transform our entertainment, products, and neighborhoods.

2017:  Term Paper Apocalypse.  Linkedin, 18 Sep 2017.
Abstract: AI is about to destroy the academic system as we know it. We've seen previews before--the controversy surrounding the introduction of calculators and reduction in manual calculation; the lamentation over decreasing handwriting skills for word processing. All that is tiny compared to what is obviously coming.

2017:  USAF Strategic Development of a Domain.  Over the Horizon, 10 July 2017.
Abstract: Are Airmen doing a good job with strategy? How much of our strategy starts “right of bang” with the efficient movement of our pieces? The success of our past and future battles depends on a lot more than what we do with our platforms — it depends on what platforms we have developed, where we have based them, and our partner building capacity. This is true not just in the Air Domain but in every domain in which we maneuver to create effects. Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini said, “Strategy is the art of making war upon the map.” So where do we read how to set up the map in the first place?

2017:  Cosmic Girl's Stiletto.  Over the Horizon, 19 July 2017.
Abstract: Virgin Galactic has done something very clever. For about $4M, they have modified a Boeing 747 to be able to travel as far as 1,000 nm and then launch a small satellite into orbit. This is going to provide industry—and potentially the Air Force—with a responsive launch-on-demand capability it has never had.

2017:  Better than Paris: space solar power. The Space Review, 19 Jun 2017.
Abstract: A national program in space-based solar power (SBSP) could do more for solving climate change than the Paris Accord ever could. SBSP is the advanced energy source that “shovel ready,” is fully renewable, produces no greenhouse gases, is not intermittent, has 24-hour availability, could be made-in-America and could scale to all global demand six times over. Within a generation, we could transform our society to abundant clean energy, enable a $300-trillion global economy, create five million new jobs, drive all carbon emissions to zero, and then have spare energy to suck carbon out of the air.

Abstract: The Joint Force faces an operational environment where adversaries are developing advanced electronic warfare (EW), offensive cyber, anti-satellite (ASAT), anti-High Value Airborne Asset (A-HVAA), counter space, and precision strike capabilities all designed to negate US airpower. These efforts are specifically designed to take vital command, control and communication networks offline. Investing in protective measures is not enough. Military leaders must anticipate conducting operations in a context of adversaries seeking to slow or paralyze operational tempo by disrupting information and logistical supply chains. Accordingly, the military must create a culture of leadership that provides an antidote to such disruption. One way to create that culture is by developing numerous exercises and wargames where leaders get a chance to observe how their teammates think and function in the absence of command links.  Another remedy is to promulgate a set of force-wide expectations that apply at all levels, providing a moral compass individuals should prepare for and act when in prosecuting commander’s intent during adversary-induced isolation. 

Abstract: China’s space program is clearly of interest to U.S. policymakers and strategists. Academics have invested significant effort in researching China’s civil and military capabilities as well as its space goals. Much of this analysis mirrors the U.S. understanding of space as fitting into categories of espionage, military use, and scientific exploration. While our literature survey uncovered numerous examples of influential space officials expressing ambitious Chinese goals for the utilization of in-space resources, we sought “ground truth” regarding the extent the which such views had permeated the larger strategy and policy community.  As U.S. policymakers begin to think about how to approach China regarding norms for space property and resource utilization, it is important to remove what might be forgivable but important misconceptions.  
 Read a spirited counter here.

2016:  Dear President Trump: Here's How to Make Space Great Again. Wired Magazine, 14 Dec 2016.
Abstract: PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP often says that Americans no longer dream and must do so again. Nowhere can dreams be more inspiring and profitable than in space. But today, expanding space enterprise is not foremost on the minds of Americans or military strategists. The first step to make space great again is for the United States to offer a constructive vision that can satisfy many American space needs, including defense. The Trump administration has an opportunity to transcend pessimism in space and focus America where it thrives: aggressive yet peaceful competition. 

2016:  A national space policy for this century. The Space Review, 29 Sep 2016.
Abstract: We have examined what we think will be the key strategic competitions our nation will face, and what sort of policy will be required for the United States to prevail in the space domain—a domain we expect will be hyper-competitive and central to the future of power in the international system.  New times and new technological and social realities demand a new and different tone. In the policy draft that follows, we have attempted to bring a clean-sheet approach to a national space policy and allow it to be forward-looking—at least as far as the captains of US industry and the luminaries of other nations have already articulated.
    Related Interview: This article got the attention of The Space Show and resulted in a short Interview on The Space Show, 27 Nov 2016.

At a time when adversaries are hard at work to make power projection increasingly difficult for the Air Force, its special tactics community represents a substantial human capital investment that cannot remain marginalized in the strategic cul-de-sac of merely supporting land operations. They can be re-imagined as a cross-domain force to accomplish L-SEAD, penetrating counter-air, and penetrating air denial.

2016:  National Intelligence Council: Lost in Space?. War is Boring, 29 Sep 2016.
Abstract: The NIC's Global Trends documents lay out the mega-trends for the President-Elect...why are they ignoring space?  Is this a strategic blindspot of detriment to the United States?
    Related Interview: This article got the attention NPR and resulted in a short Interview on NPR Marketplace, 3 Oct 2016.

2016:  Alabama should lead in space solar power. Montgomery Advertiser, 24 Mar 2016.
Abstract: Being the first to establish Space Solar Power systems will establish who is the “Saudi Arabia of Green Energy.”  Space Solar Power is as significant an industrial development as the airplane, the automobile, the locomotive, or the steam ship.  It will determine which is the richest and most powerful nation on earth and beyond

2016:  Interview The Space Show 6 Mar 2016.

2015:  An Aerospace Nation. Strategic Studies Quarterly, Winter 2015.
Abstract: Aerospace is deeply connected to US identity—its power and place in the world. Progress in aerospace opened doors to new methods of travel,
economic prosperity, and the means to shelter and defend the nation. 

Ghost Fleet is a must read for those interested in the future of conflict. Imaginative and thoughtful, the authors have drawn together a diverse set of evolving trends in modern warfare—from “hybrid war” to cutting-edge technological developments in cyber, directed-energy, and unmanned systems—and woven them into a scenario of great power conflict in the near future. 

2015: Ghost Fleet: A Vision of Future Warfare, The Book Review India
Ghost Fleet is a must read for those interested in the future of conflict. Imaginative, thoughtful, the authors have drawn together a diverse set of evolving trends in modern warfare—from ‘hybrid war’ to cutting-edge technological developments in cyber, directed energy and unmanned systems—and woven them into a scenario of great power conflict in the near future where they all interact. 

Abstract: An interagency proposal which began at Air University's Center for Space Innovation, titled "Carbon-Free Energy for Global Resilience and International Goodwill" has been selected for semi-finals in the Secretary of Defense's innovation challenge for the D3 (Diplomacy, Development, Defense) summit.   The team is proposing the idea of Space Solar Power Satellites to a summit of senior leaders from the Department of Defense, the US Agency for International Development, and the US Department of State as a whole-of-nation way the US can re-assert US leadership in space, energy and other technologies, amplify the US leadership in the fight against climate change, create a huge number of US jobs and position the US as clean energy exporter, and rekindle America's spirit to do great things.  MRCA source selection remains a significant opportunity for India to advance its security and expand its freedom of action at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Overall, a US selection best serves the Indian grand strategic goal of inclusive growth by deepening its economic relationship, linking technical and industrial bases, and lessening the chance of distracting conflict.  It would have immediately put fighters in India’s hands to stem the bleeding of aged platforms that is undermining its ability to maintain Air Superiority and deterrence, and provide an unparalleled opportunity for India to expand its influence globally, as the US is and is likely to remain India’s chief patron as it seeks increased global influence.

2015:  MMRCA: A New Strategic Opportunity. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 26 Aug 2015.
Abstract: MMRCA source selection remains a significant opportunity for India to advance its security and expand its freedom of action at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Overall, a US selection best serves the Indian grand strategic goal of inclusive growth by deepening its economic relationship, linking technical and industrial bases, and lessening the chance of distracting conflict.  It would have immediately put fighters in India’s hands to stem the bleeding of aged platforms that is undermining its ability to maintain Air Superiority and deterrence, and provide an unparalleled opportunity for India to expand its influence globally, as the US is and is likely to remain India’s chief patron as it seeks increased global influence. 

2015:  Aviation and Health. with Col James Chambers, Mr. Mort Rolleston, Col Jeffrey Alder, Col Peter Podbielski, ASPJ  May-Jun 2015.
Abstract: The US Air Force (USAF) can significantly contribute to both aviation enterprise and health systems in a synergistic fashion, providing incentive to potential PNs to work with the United States in shared security objectives.

2015:  Starfleet was closer than you think. with Major Brent Ziarnick, SpaceReview, 16 Mar 2015
Abstract: The USAF leadership of 1963 had plans to build a giant space-fleet of nuclear powered spacecraft.  Had personalities been different, America today might be reaching for the stars.

2014:  Enabling the 2nd Generation in Space: Building Blocks for Large Scale Space Endeavors. with David Barnhart (DARPA) and Willer Willons, JBIS Vol 67, No 04 "100 Year Starship Study 2011: Time Distance Solutions, April 2014  

2014:  . Observer Research Foundation (ORF), 23 June 2014 

Organizations or philanthropists concerned about the water problem needn't wait for government action. They could "steal the initiative" and partner with an organization like XPRIZE to create a social gaming and collaborative consumption application. Open-source it, crowd-source it, crowd-fund it. For a few million dollars, a prize competition could -- in just a couple years -- create a mobile application that would revolutionize the global water situation. Third party actors could end-run states to create a world-wide transparency of real-time water flows and usage that could enhance human security and prosperity, and do what it seems states are unable to do. . 



The proposed International Code of Conduct (ICOC) for outer space activities fails to address some fundamental equities related to the future of space, and the agendas of the Asian space powers. 


2014:  . The Space Review, 7 April 2014

The proposed International Code of Conduct (ICOC) for outer space activities fails to address some fundamental equities related to the future of space, and the agendas of the Asian space powers. 


            (Front Cover Spanish Version of ASPJ!)

In both Spacecast 2020 and Air Force 2025, a visionary Air Force of two decades ago foresaw a future role and mission of protecting planet Earth. The meteor strike over Chelyabinsk, a major Russian military industrial town, which injured 1,100 people and cost $33 million should be a wake-up call. I argue that the mission is highly consonant with our other war-fighting requirements (space situational awareness [SSA] and space control) and that it offers the Air Force a deep-space mission which would create requirements advancing propulsion, proximity operations, and noncooperative capture. Moreover, the mission would give our service a visionary quality as a global force for good that would be inspiring, aid recruiting, and attract public support.  I also argue that Airmen should prepare themselves for a world in which billionaire-backed private companies like Planetary Resources Incorporated and Deep Space Industries can survey, access, move, and mine asteroids. In such a world, wealth in and from space amounts to more than just bits, and our economy moves outward into the inner solar system.


The United States Air Force (USAF) describes AED as “the plans, programs, and activities undertaken to develop the system-of-systems necessary for a nation to optimize employment of national aviation resources.  The total aviation resource capacity and capability of a nation is defined by the sum total of all air domain resources including humans, aircraft, processes and infrastructure in both the civilian and military/security sectors.” 

This article suggests a starting point for such a whole-of-government AED vision.  It achieves this by first highlighting the importance of the global air domain to American strategic and economic interests overall and reminding that these benefits came, in part, from similar deliberative, strategic US AED assistance after World War II.  The article then argues why America should once again think strategically about its AED assistance given that US strategic and economic interests are becoming increasingly tied to the emerging economies of Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which are all poised to greatly expand their aviation enterprise.

Abstract: How should the USAF balance continuing irregular requirements with high-end A2/AD requirements? Should the USAF:
1. Continue on the current path, purchasing an exquisite force of the most capable high-end platforms (F-35) able to penetrate and survive in a contested environment, assuming they can handle air operations in a more benign environment as a lesser included case, or
2. Commit to a balanced force, trading some of our niche high-end fighter forces to finance investment in low-end aircraft more appropriate for irregular operations and shaping?
Abstract: The Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force recently signed an updated United States Air Force (USAF) Irregular Warfare (IW) Strategy to provide direction for the USAF to organize, train, and equip to provide capabilities necessary to meet strategic guidance. 


2013: Air Advising: A Critical Component of Joint Engagement.  Joint Forces Quarterly, June 17, 2013. 

Abstract: The Air Force is expanding its air advising capacity, which is available to combatant commands through mobility support advisory squadrons and 6th Special Operations Squadron and leaves a small footprint and considerable goodwill in host countries. By assessing, training, advising, assisting, and equipping, Air Force personnel work through sometimes shaky beginnings to become trusted mentors, thus ensuring U.S. access and influence while helping host militaries assume greater responsibility. Enhanced partner capabilities will create opportunities for the joint force to collaborate, and through air advising it can be done cost-effectively. An Air Advisor Academy and visionary personnel on standing teams will assist partner militaries in gaining public legitimacy, regaining control of ungoverned spaces, and becoming reliable and willing allies.

2013: Time for Airpower Diplomacy in Asia-Pacific.  The Diplomat. May 28, 2013. 

Abstract: This article argues that the USAF should use airpower development teams to build relations in the region.


2013: A Range-Balanced Force: An Alternate Force Structure Adapted to New Defense Priorities.  Air and Space Power Journal, May 1, 2013. 

Abstract: This article argues that external forces will drive the US Air Force to procure a very different force structure than the one currently postulated for the early 2030s. Specifically, the service will eventually settle on a “range-balanced force” for its combat air forces (CAF) dominated by longer-range strike platforms capable of remotely piloted operations. The article presents one idealized force structure in which only one-third of the CAF includes manned fighters; fully one-third consists of long-range, optionally piloted strike platforms; and a final one-third includes a swing force of fighter-sized, medium-range, semiautonomous, stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

This article won ASPJ's Eaker Award.

The Space Review
Abstract: OpED argues that the Russian Meteor strike and Asteroid close pass present an opportunity to put in place a pro-active strategy that also involves the private sector.
See also this article on US-India Planetary Defense cooperation by Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan of India's Observer Research Foundation (ORF) where my point of view is mentioned.
2013: Armed With Science Saturday: Science Fiction: The Aperture for Science Future. Interview with DoDLive Science Blog, February
South Asia Journal
Abstract: In 1992, RAND published an interpretive essay by Dr. George Tanham, an American defense analyst, on the historical and cultural factors that have shaped India’s strategic thinking.  The essay is important because it highlighted and reinforced particular sensitive criticisms which continue to form the basis of significant Indian self-examination and self-justification.  This paper reviews Tanham’s major interpretive insights and examines them in light of observed contemporary Indian strategic culture.

Abstract: A summary of the major components of the recently released Air Force Irregular Warfare Roadmap.
2013 (FICTION): “Complications/Yearning/Longing,” Kalkion 2010
Abstract: A condemned revolutionary is being taken for trial on a captured comet, accompanied only by his law enforcement escort.
Abstract: The new Defense Strategic guidance clearly shifts the emphasis of military force structure planning from large-scale counter-insurgency operations (COIN) to high-end deterrence.  However, the guidance is also clear about the need to maintain presence and influence, and to do so with smaller footprints.  As the budget pressures on the services escalate, the natural prioritization process will seek to trim what are perceived as less critical capabilities.  Given this guidance, how does the USAF need to configure itself to maximize its value to US national strategy and foreign policy?
2012: What Our Civilization Needs is a Billion Year Plan. Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence, 24 Sept 2012, 18 pages
Abstract: It isn’t enough just to plan for two or 20, or even the fabled Chinese 100 year periods. We need to be thinking and planning on the order of billions of years. Our civilization needs inter-generational plans and goals that span as far out as we can forecast significant events. 

2012: The Case for Optionally Manned: Future-proofing America's Next Bomber. Lt Col Peter Garretson, USAF, USAF. Armed Forces Journal, pp10-13,32, Sept 2012. Website. 5 pages.
Purely manned or purely unmanned aircraft possess various inherent advantages and limitations. A manned aircraft can be used in contested environments where command-and-control is limited, autonomy is required, or policy restrictions exist. An unmanned aircraft has no aircrew to limit its range and endurance, nor to place at risk of loss or capture.  Optionally manned aircraft provide the best of both worlds, allowing commanders to employ force at various risk levels and to employ their aircraft and crews to their fullest capacities.

2012: Airmen Need to Prepare for a Post-Atlantis World. Air and Space Power Journal,Volume 26, Issue 5, 2 pages.
NASA/Kim Shiflett
Abstract:  On 21 July 2011, the space shuttle Atlantis completed its final mission, landing to an appropriately dusky sky at sunset. That touchdown marked the end of the Space Transportation System, or “space shuttle,” and truly the close of an era. But we need not mourn that passing if our nation and its Airmen are ready to take advantage of opportunities both private and public. 

2012: Airpower Key to US Asia Goals. The Diplomat,Volume 26, Issue 5, 2 pages
To win the contest for influence in the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. military must move beyond boots on the ground. Smart use of the Air Force is a cost effect tool that could fit the bill. 

2012:  Solar Power in Space?. Strategic Studies Quarterly (SSQ), Srping 2012, PDF, 27 pages.
Abstract:  Space-based solar power (SBSP) is a concept for a revolutionary energy system. It involves placing into orbit stupendously large orbital power plants—kilometers across—which collect the sun’s raw energy and beam it down to where it is needed on the earth. In theory, SBSP could scale to meet all of humanity’s energy needs, providing virtually unlimited green, renewable power to an energy-hungry world. 

2012: “Are Things Looking Up for Space SolarPower?”, Ad Astra, Spring 2012
Abstract:  This article summarizes the importance of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) report on Space-Based Solar Power, and National Space Society efforts.

2011: “The US Defense Acquisition System”, Journal of Defense Studies, 2011
 Abstract:  I provide a basic overview of how the US defense acquisition system functions.

Is the Future of Energy Geopolitics in Space?
 Abstract:  Space-based solar power would have radical impications for the international system.  This article summarizes what the various major powers are doing, and how success might impact the global system.

2010:  Sky's No Limit: Space-Based Solar Power, the Next Major Step in the Indo-US Strategic Partnership by Peter A. Garretson. Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. ISDA Occasional Paper No. 9. August, 2010, 174 pages
Abstract: This paper provides a policymaker's overview of a highly scalable, revolutionary, renewable energy technology, Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), and evaluates it utility within the context of the Indo-US strategic partnership. After providing an overview of the concept and its significance to the compelling problems of sustainable growth, economic development, energy security and climate change, it evaluates the utility of the concept in the context of respective Indian and US political context and energy-climate trajectories. The paper concludes that a bilateral initiative to develop Space-Based Solar Power is highly consistent with the objectives of the Indo-US strategic partnership, and ultimately recommends an actionable tree-tiered programme to realize its potential. 

Abstract: It is important to consider your audience when you write.  Often writers in the DoD do not consider that words they believe are meant for an internal audience are read abroad.  It is vital to consider external audiences.

NOTE: The fiction, originally published on Kalkion, can now be found at KALVEDA 
2010 (FICTION): “UAS: Unmanned Aerial System,” Kalkion 2010
Abstract: What is it like to be an artificially intelligent UAV alone and unfraid on a mission beyond command and control?  This short SF story is about just that.

2010 (FICTION): “The Last Caballero,” Kalkion 2010
Abstract: What is it like to be immortal in a post-Singularity world on the verge of becoming both a O'Neillian civilization, complete with Space Elevators and Solar Power Satellites, and about to become an intersellar faring civilization as well?

2010 (FICTION): “Seed”,  Kalkion 2010
Abstract: What would happen if the synbio billionaires and the space billionaires teamed up to spread life to the great beyond, beyond the reach of government as well?

2010 (FICTION): “Infestation,” Kalkion 2010
Abstract: A young man on a reality TV show has a solution to a major galactic problem.  Learn about his personal story and what is the problem he must solve.

2010 (FICTION): “Clockcycle”,  Kalkion 2010
Abstract: A tribute written for my brother Leif, who died in 2008.  How does one cope with loss in a post-singularity world where we live as uploaded beings in the process of constructing a Dyson sphere around our Sun.

Home Abstract: A brief web-overview of the concept and importance of space solar power.

Abstract:Impacts from asteroids and comets constitute a profound threat to life on this planet, and needs to be seriously addressed. At the upper-end of the impact energy scale our very existence as a species is at stake. However, our civilization is also vulnerable to moderate-scale impacts. Protection against such devastation is a necessary and wise course of action. However, the time-scales and probabilities involved make it very difficult to justify financing the resources for any significant Planetary Defense program. Furthermore, technical difficulties abound. How best to approach threat elimination, whether object deflection or destruction, is as yet uncertain and require further development and testing, the latter being a subject of particular controversy. Furthermore, any threat remediation mission would currently require many years for planning and execution, a time delay which makes us vulnerable to threats which arise before we are ready to take effective action. However, we suggest that many of these key issues could be effectively integrated into an overall multi-agency program which combines Planetary Defense with long-term space exploration. This provides a unique opportunity to develop a robust Planetary Defense program consistent with political and budgetary constraints, as part of a US space policy.
2009: “Elements of a 21st Century Space Policy,” The Space Review, 2009
The Space Review
Abstract: A broad overview of the policy changes required in a National Space Policy to assure long-term US pre-eminence of the US as a spacefaring power.
Working Through Synthetic Worlds
Abstract: What might "Basic Training: look like in an age where augmented, mixed reality, and smart virtual coaches and instructors are a part of our daily reality.  This chapter details a vision of how such technologies might be integrated into education, training, personal fitness, and control of autonomous systems.


Home Abstract: Security planners often grapple with the question of how far out they should be looking and planning, and it is not a problem to take lightly. Many believe that as the pace of technology quickens and the number of possible interactions in a globalized, flattened world increase, the real horizon of meaningful forecast moves ever closer. But in my view that only forces us to look farther out, to things that seem distant today, but can be anticipated, and to take a longer view.  In negotiating a date for a Grand Strategy or Future Environmental Estimate one is thrown upon the horns of a dilemma. If we come too close or too far, we add little value. Too close and we are left with little freedom of action and creativity--neither the world, nor our instruments to affect it can change that much.   Looking then at the various dates, it seems to me that there are enough extant data and serious predictions available to warrant a strategic estimate should go out till 2050, and that a useful waypoint in time to serve as a focus for a strategic vision and grand strategy would be 2035 or 2040.

Home Abstract: Scenario building is one of the most powerful methods available to researchers and policy analysts for understanding the dynamics of the various interdependent factors that shape alternative futures. It also highlights and projects the potential influence of different policy choices made in the present.  Scenario building allows us to transcend narrow thinking about just a “best case,” “most probable case,” or “worst case” future, and leads researchers and their audiences to a deeper understanding of the dynamics and possible range and complexities of future environments. Ultimately scenario building is not really about the future per se, but rather focuses on shaping the lens of how we should see where trends and events are going today, where they could lead to, and what we could do to affect them. Thus, scenario building is amongst the most powerful analytic tools to answer two fundamental questions of interest to think tanks and their stakeholders.

 Abstract: Science Fiction is an under-appreciated tool in a nation's and strategist's tool book as well as an under-appreciated part of culture and literature. Many, because of a lack of scientific literacy or unfamiliarity confuse hard science fiction, often written by well qualified scientists, with fantasy. Many use the term pejoratively to denigrate an idea as being too remote and fantastic, as in "This is the stuff of science fiction." That is an unfortunate self-lobotomy of individuals and cultures that are held captive by the tyranny of the now, or of the past.  No culture is naturally strategic. Strategy is an uphill battle, a constant struggle for all levels of all organizations. It is the natural instinct to be biased in favour of the present and its concerns, and not to consider the far-term and its implications. One tool to nurture such interactions is Science Fiction. Science Fiction is basically a special form of scenario planning, a one-to-many publication of some possible future, based upon an extrapolation of trends and technology to examine what they mean to the human enterprise. It allows us to criticize the present, freeing us from the tyranny of the now. Like all of our senses, it is a sort of evolutionary adaptation that helps us to "see over the next hill" and to explore the territory ahead.
Abstract: The online Magazine Kalkion interviews me on a range of topics: Strategic Planning, science fiction, education for strategic planning, the mysterious unpopularity of SF in India today, and the future of SF.

2009: “CounterBio-Terror,” CBW magazine, 2009
Abstract: Modern Nation States are complex systems that today suffer from the affliction of terrorism, which can attack its vital centers and connective tissue. Even as nation’s try to counter, terrorists are themselves evolving and seeking new capabilities to more effectively injure their hosts, including all forms of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  Countering such capabilities and low signature activities will be difficult. Countering them in liberal, pluralist democracies like India and the US will be doubly challenging, as we value the diversity of thought and discourse and are hesitant to suppress dissent or heavily indoctrinate our citizenry into a single view of “the good.”  But we must not fail to evolve our own immune systems, and one thing states can do is band together to ensure dissemination of best practices and ability to lend mutual support.

2009: "Power: The Next Frontier", Op Ed piece in Sakal Times, Friday, May 22, 2009
 Abstract: An OpEd discussing the value of Space-based Solar Power.


Abstract:A prominent recommendation of citizen groups and past planetary defense conferences was to conduct a well scripted exercise in disaster response to an asteroid threat.  At the request of NASA Headquarters (HQ), an internal long-range think tank at Headquarters Air Force in conjunction with NASA HQ conducted the first-ever interagency tabletop exercise with participants at the action officer level from relevant US government agencies (National Security Council (NSC), Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD),  US  Joint Staff, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State (DOS), US Coast Guard, US Navy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US Air Force) and response command posts (National Military Command Center (NMCC), Air Force Group (AFG), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)) to assess likely responses both to mitigation and disaster response in the absence of clear policy on roles and missions, and capture key considerations.  The exercise itself was a full day, and was conducted with participants playing the role of their agency as if the event was happening in real time.  The specific threat involved a binary asteroid with the larger body an equivalent size to Apophis, and the smaller approximately 50m (size Berringer Crater impactor), one of which would hit the United States or US East Coast and stress continuity of government, the other which would strike in international waters and would stress foreign notification and foreign disaster response.  The group was broken into two teams to assess two different cases.  The mitigation team was given one synodic period (7 years) before impact to plan for deflection or disruption.  The disaster response team had only 72 hours from discovery to impact to respond.  While the exercise itself was an academic exercise and does  not represent the official position of  any participating agency, it nevertheless highlighted multiple insights which may be relevant to future planners, and are discussed below.
2008: Natural Impact Hazard (Asteroid Strike) Interagency Deliberate Planning Exercise After Action Report. Directorate of Strategic Planning, Headquarters, United States Air Force. PDF 0.3 MB. 107 pages.
Abstract: Air Force Future Concepts and Transformation Division (AF/A8XC) hosted a Natural Impact Event Interagency Planning Exercise, 4 Dec 2008, in Alexandria, Virginia. Twenty Seven Subject Matter Experts from across US Government, including DOD, DOE, DOS, DHS, NASA, and NSC participated in a single day tabletop exercise to explore whole of government response to an impending asteroid strike. The specific scenario involved a mythical asteroid, 2008 Innoculatus. It was a binary asteroid consisting of a 270m rocky rubble pile projected to strike the Gulf of Guinea and a 50m metallic companion asteroid projected to strike in the National Capital Region (NCR). The scenario was selected to maximize exposure to the diversity of threat (variation in size, composition, land/water strike), stress both national and international notification, and provide useful pre-planning should an actual effort need to be mounted against the asteroid Apophis when it has a small probability to pass through a gravitational keyhole in 2029 and perhaps return to strike the Earth seven years later in 2036. Participants were broken into two teams. The first team focused on disaster response and was told the asteroid was discovered 72 hrs from impact. The second team focused on deflection/mitigation and was told the asteroid had been discovered seven years from impact, and to design a strawman deflection plan using existing capabilities. The major insights from this exercise are presented.
2008: Planetary Defense: Potential Mitigation Roles of the Department of Defense. Lt Col Peter Garretson, USAF, and Maj Douglas Kaupa, USAF. Air and Space Power Journal, 22:3, pp34-41, Fall 2008. PDF 0.3 MB. 8 pages.
Abstract: The first and most important step in creating a planetary-defense plan is to find a home in the US government for such a program—preferably US STRATCOM. Other organizations would prove dysfunctional or suboptimal for US security. We would enhance our national-defense capabilities by working under STRATCOM auspices to pursue technology that might not be available or easily transitioned if developed by another agency. The United States doesn’t need a new dedicated agency or the inevitable duplication of effort that it would create. Once we decide upon a lead agency, we would then turn to developing a CONOPS, including the creation of interagency lines of communication. STRATCOM will not be the lone actor because mitigation policies will demand capabilities found in other organizations. After modifying existing search programs, we would identify the mitigation options that need development and testing. Massive extinctions have occurred in the past and can certainly occur again. Earth is not immune to collisions with asteroids and comets, but we can prepare for these events by establishing a solid planetary-defense plan.

2008: “Removing the Blindersone of the Greatest Threats to Civilization Remains Unaccounted for”, Ad Astra, Winter 2008
 Abstract: Here are the facts: Our solar system is a cluttered shooting gallery of objects that threaten our lives and the existence of life on Earth. We know that objects have struck the Earth in the past, causing huge devastation and mass extinction. Today, we don’t have the capability to know with certainty where and when the next impactor will strike. Yet virtually zero space or defense dollars are going toward creating such a capability. It is time to move the topic of Earth-colliding asteroids and comets from discussions in the academic halls of astronomy and astrophysics and onto the agenda of national security policymaking.


 Abstract: Like all species in a closed ecosystem, human civilization flourishes in times of new and plentiful resources and regresses in times of scarce supplies. Today, following more than a century of intense hydrocarbon use and six decades after Einstein’s remark, the human population exceeds six billion with projections of nearly ten billion by 2050. Conventional hydrocarbon energy resource peaks are all expected to occur well before mid-century; and rising CO2 levels may be unleashing an unprecedented global climate crisis. While space already delivers ubiquitous telecommunication, global positioning, and surveillance commodities, these intangibles are higher-order services and not true life-sustaining resources. The first true resource delivered from space may very well be nearly limitless clean energy.


Viewpoint: The Next Great White Fleet: Extending the Benefits of the International System into Space
AbstractThis article argues that what naval power was to the 17th century—knitting together separate trading systems and bridging new resources, wealth, mobility, and establishing an international system of trade that pulled various powers into the dominant power's orbit—space power can be for the 21st century. To this end, airmen must take a wider view of what strategic value the United States Air Force (USAF) can provide for the United States (U.S.) beyond support for warfighting.  The article summarizes major projects which address significant challenges and could add value, sustain US legitimacy in the international system and providing an outline of what should be US grand strategy in space.

2007:  Space-Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security. Report to the National Security Space Office, October 2007, 75 pages. 
Abstract:  Consistent with the US National Security Strategy, energy and environmental security are not just problems for America, they are critical challenges for the entire world. Expanding human populations and declining natural resources are potential sources of local and strategic conflict in the 21st Century, and many see energy scarcity as the foremost threat to national security. Conflict prevention is of particular interest to security-providing institutions such as the U.S. Department of Defense which has elevated energy and environmental security as priority issues with a mandate to proactively find and create solutions that ensure U.S. and partner strategic security is preserved.
The SBSP Study Group concluded that space-based solar power does present a strategic opportunity that could significantly advance US and partner security, capability, and freedom of action and merits significant further attention on the part of both the US Government and the private sector. 

 Abstract: The union of precision-guided munitions (PGM) and stealth technology has brought about a revolution in military affairs that has affected the way we conduct warfare dramatically. Could such a model be expanded to airlift platforms? Why not?  This paper discusses how technology could enable a new form of global military just-in-time logistics.

1999: Reply to Col Budura, Airpower Journal
 Abstract: A response to an article arguing for a separate space force.


Video Presentations:

1 Mar 2016: Space Solar Power & Interstellar Working Track Outbrief (TVIW 2016)

Why should an Interstellar enthusiast care about Space Solar Power? Here's why!

1 Mar 2016: What's your mental map [of space]?

Do you have the right mental model of space for the decades ahead?

16 Nov 2010: Objectives of a Human Mission to a NEO: Planetary Defense Considerations. (13 minutes in). Presentation at NASA ExploreNow Event, 16 Nov 2010.  Powerpoint Slides here.

A human mission to an asteroid could advance the state of preparedness to protect planet Earth (its citizens, civilization, property and biosphere) from a future asteroid or comet strike.  Such a mission could help us to better understand the composition and dynamics of NEO objects in order to refine methods of “pushing” the NEO.  It could help select the best methods, and conduct better mission planning by advancing our understanding of the maturity, ‘workability’ and complications of proposed deflection methods. Such a mission could also capitalize on public interest and excitement and relevance to a common concern: survival; as well as advance the profile of the problem and our organizational readiness to respond to an actual threat. 

27 Oct 2009: Space-Based Solar Power: A Potential Solution to Climate and Energy Challenges Worth Exploring. (21 minutes). Presentation at CSTEP-CMU Climate and Energy Futures Conference, 27 Oct 2009 


4 Jun 2009: "Drilling Up" Space-Based Solar Power: The Opportunity of a Century. (1 hr 47 minutes). Presentation (Extramural Lecture) given at IITm, 4 Jun 2009.  Powerpoint Slides here. (original link here: IITm Lecture)

 29 May 2008: Space: A Billion Year Plan for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (31 minutes). Presentation at futurist panel of the International Space Development Conference, 29 May 2008.

Mafic Short Animation and the Discovery Video Clip it Inspired

Space Solar Power Preview (Futures Channel)

Powering the Planet - The Space Solar Power Concept (Full Video on The Futures Channel)

GE Lecture

NIT Lecture

ISDC Billion Year Plan Lecture

ISDC Space Solar Talk

Blue Horizons Video 

(I started the program, the CSAT team deserves all the credit for the video)


Thoughts on the Future of Wargaming

Abstract: A presentation on the value of wargaming, and musings on where technology could take future wargaming.

Grid Computing within the DoD

Abstract: How might the DoD harness the vast amount of fixed infrastructure of unused computation via Grid computing?  

Objectives of a Human Mission to a NEO: Planetary Defense Considerations . Presentation at NASA ExploreNow Event, 16 Nov 2010. 

Abstract: These slides accompany the video presentation made at the NASA ExploreNOW conference on a human mission to an asteroid.  I summarize how such a mission could advance our state of preparedness for planetary defense.

Drilling Up” Space-Based Solar Power: The Opportunity of the Century?, Presentation at TIFR, Mumbai, April 2009

Abstract: This presentation lays out the energy challenges for India and the world, and provides a basic introduction to the concept of Space-Based Solar Power.

Collaborative Projects:

Project Horizon

Abstract: Perhaps the best conceived methodology for a disciplined study of the future I have participated in.  This NSC-Led, Joint Staff executed project examined multiple different scenarios and the required interagency competencies that would be required for the United States to cope.

Blue Horizons

Abstract: “Blue Horizons” is a series of annual long range vision studies.  These annual studies serve as an input for the development of Title X wargames, Strategic Planning Guidance, Quadrennial Defense Review scenarios and the development of service requirements.  Blue Horizons is overseen by the Air Force Futures Group, and run by the Center for Strategy and Technology. The individual research papers, group technology assessments and briefings given to the Chief and the Air Staff are designed for easy use by staffs at all levels.

NDU Towards a Space Power Theory Project,



NSSO Space-Based Solar Power Study Group, 

Project for Anticipatory Government, 

The Energy Conversation

Energy Horizons


National Military Strategy


UAS Flight Plan


India Strategic Trends and Strategy: While I fellow at IDSA, I as an advocate in transferring best practices regarding thinking about the future using trends and scenario-based planning.

Asian Security Conference 2009

Asian Security Conference 2009
Along with other key advocates at IDSA, a group of us helped craft the concept note for the first Asian Security conference to focus specifically at the long term future.  That project both initiated and gave birth to several subsequent projects.

Asia 2030: The Unfolding Future

The future trends work started with the Asian Security Conference continued. 

Here is the first product of the scholars at IDSA to provide an Indian perspective on Asia's Future.

Imagining Asia 2030

The initial work generated from the Asian Security Conference became of interest to Indian policymakers.  This polished version details a number of important trends identified by IDSA scholars and edited by my colleagues.

IDSA Strategic Trends 2050 Project, The Future trends work also drew the attention of India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).  This team drew extensively on best practices and methodologies, and reaches even farther into the future that the earlier two projects.

IDSA Indian National Strategy Project,

IDSA National Strategy Project

From the beginning, those of us interested in seeing future trends projects saw it as a key input to a grander project to articulate India's interests, challenges for an Indian Grand National Strategy, something that at the time was not available to those studying India.

Mentioned In:


Space Wars


What others have said:

KurzweilAI: "Lt Col Garretson — one of the USAF’s most farsighted and original thinkers — has been at the forefront of USAF strategy on the long-term future in projects such as Blue Horizons (on KurzweilAI — see video), Energy Horizons, Space Solar Power, the AF Futures Game, the USAF Strategic Environmental Assessment, and the USAF RPA Flight Plan. Now in this exclusive to KurzweilAI, he pushes the boundary of long-term thinking about humanity’s survival out to the edge … and beyond."

Paul Gilster at Centauri Dreams (9/25) commented that Garretson exhibits an "optimism...that used to infuse our culture in the period before the first moon landings."

Current Thoughts:

Watch thoughts on humanity's future in space, planetary defense and space solar power  at: