Space-Based Capabilities Critical To U.S. National Security
Space-based capabilities are vital to U.S. national security in today's era of de-stabilizing challenges from Russia and undeniable strategic competition with China, the Defense Department's principal director for space policy told a House Armed Services Committee panel on May 24, 2021.
John D. Hill told the HASC subcommittee on strategic forces that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has also testified that the growth of Chinese and Russian counter space capabilities presents the most immediate and serious threats to U.S. allied and partner space activities. Additionally, ''Russia and China view space as critical to modern warfare and consider the use of counterspace capabilities as both a means of reducing U.S. military effectiveness and winning future wars,'' Hill said.
As these developments portend, the United States must be prepared for conflict to extend to, or even originate, in space, he said. But to be clear, such a conflict would not be a space war distinct from terrestrial war, but would represent ''an extension of traditional armed conflict into the space domain of human endeavor,'' Hill clarified.
Air Force Gen. David D. Thompson, vice chief of space operations, U.S. Space Force, told Congressional members that Space Force, the newest military service, has made tremendous strides in the first year by establishing and resourcing the organizational blueprint for the service; moving aggressively in the areas of human capital, force design, acquisition, integration; and providing the foundations to establish a truly digital service — while executing its critical space missions around the clock, without fail.
The direction for the second year of the force, he said, is the integration of Space Force into the joint force, the interagency, and with U.S. allies and partners as building out the newest service continues.
''[We] have established the first field command Space Operations Command and completed the organizational design of the remaining two Space Systems Command and Space Training and Readiness Command, with the anticipated standup of those two commands later this year,'' Thompson said, noting that Space Operations Command is responsible for preparing and presenting forces to U.S. Space Command and other combatant commands.
The entire leadership of the Department of the Air Force remain committed and adamant that the pace of space acquisition must be increased, Thompson said, adding, ''Maintaining program delivery timelines of the recent past will not outpace the threat. We must go faster.''