Spacecom Allows USA To Retain 'High Ground'
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presided over the presentation of the colors of U.S. Space Command (Air Force Space Command) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on September 9, 2019.
Space is now contested, and for security's sake, the United States must retain its leadership in that domain, the chairman said.
Dunford looked back in history, noting that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, in 1957. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. The United States correctly felt the nation was "falling behind in technological capability," the general said.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy energized the nation, saying the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The cooperation of all branches of government and industry saw that goal succeed with Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind" on July 20, 1969.
The U.S. military is facing another "Sputnik moment" today, Dunford said.
After decades of uncontested access to space, Russia and China pose challenges — developing electronic, directed energy weapons, as well as anti-satellite capabilities and more.
"The reestablishment of Space Command should be understood as part of a broader effort to maintain our nation's competitive advantage in space," the chairman said.
U.S. Space Command is an integral part of today's National Security Strategy. Great power competition with Russia and China has returned. Iran and North Korea pose lesser, but still dangerous, challenges. Space Command must deter enemies from challenging U.S. space capabilities, and, if that fails, be able to soundly defeat any threat.
"The competitive advantage we enjoyed after the Cold War has eroded," Dunford said. "For the last two decades, our adversaries have studied us and developed capabilities designed to exploit what they perceive to be our vulnerabilities. That dynamic has been particularly evident in space." Space is key to military command and control, missile warning, navigation, targeting and overall military capabilities.