Two days after Joe Biden was inaugurated as President, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Space Force created by President Trump is critical to U.S. national security. He added that there is bipartisan support for Space Force, and expects the newest military service, along with Space Command, to continue growing in the new Biden administration.
According to Defense.gov the general said at a National Security Space Association event, that in a time of conflict, the Department of Defense (DOD) must deny adversaries access to space while maintaining its own freedom to maneuver in that domain. He also emphasized that:
Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation.
Therefore, it is our responsibility as leaders of the defense enterprise to make sure that we continue to educate the population about the threats that we face and then, put forth recommendations to deal with those threats in a rapid, responsive way.
America’s greatest adversaries, Russia and China are both building antisatellite weapons and other military space assets at an alarming rate, noted Hyten.
These capabilities include China’s aggressive focus on establishing a moon base.
As a result, noted Defense.gov, the department has to go fast in defining joint requirements and delivering capable systems to counter the threat, the general said. “We accelerate because our adversaries are accelerating.”
In going fast, you have to accept a certain amount of risk, he added.
In 2015 both China and Russia reorganized their militaries to integrate something akin to the U.S. Space Force into their existing structures. Russian merged its Air Force, air defense forces and space capabilities into its ‘Aerospace Forces,’ while that same year China created the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ‘Strategic Support Force’ to include various strategic elements, including space.
Aviation Week notes that China’s Strategic Support Force:
…helps launch and operate satellites and provides the Chinese military with command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and cyber and electronic warfare capabilities. It also helps in co-orbital counterspace missions.
Meanwhile, the magazine adds: “Like the Chinese Strategic Support Force, the Russian Aerospace Forces has a mission that extends beyond space to include communication and intelligence equipment and electronic warfare.”
Despite differing structures and doctrines between the three major powers, the military space domain will only grow in importance in the years ahead. Team Biden would be wise to keep and expand Trump’s Space Force.