U.S. Military Warns ‘Space Is Now a Warfighting Domain’

The U.S. Air Force considers “maintaining space superiority” one of its “core missions,” high-ranking American military officials told lawmakers Wednesday, warning that “space is now a warfighting domain.” In jointly written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Wednesday, top officials in charge of America’s military space program told lawmakers: “For decades the United States has enjoyed unimpeded freedom of action in space. This benign environment allowed us to operate satellites for intelligence collection, missile warning, weather monitoring, communications, and precision positioning, navigation, and timing in support of all military operations for all of the services, without thinking about how to protect these systems. That environment no longer exists. Space will be contested in any conflict… Clearly, freedom to operate in space is not guaranteed. In fact, space is now a warfighting domain, similar to the more familiar air, land, and maritime domains our men and women are fighting in today. We must ensure the reliability of our current systems and we must modernize. Our modernization will focus on our ability to deter potential adversaries, and to fight in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment should deterrence fail.” The warnings came from Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force; Gen. David Goldfein, chief of staff of the Air Force; Gen. John Raymond, commander of U.S. Air Force Space Command; and Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the U.S. Air Force Command’s Space and Missile System Center. “Our potential adversaries understand the advantage we derive from space and view our reliance on space as a vulnerability they can exploit,” they noted. “Near-peer competitors will offset any U.S. military advantage derived from our space systems and continue to pursue capabilities to degrade or destroy them.” In its latest World Threat Assessment, issued last week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats identified Russia and China as America’s primary rivals in space. “We assess that Russia and China perceive a need to offset any US military advantage derived from military, civil, or commercial space systems and are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine,” pointed out the assessment. “Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti- satellite (ASAT) weapons as a means to reduce US military effectiveness.”

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