Department of Defense Establishes U.S. Space Command
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Aug. 29, 2019)
At the direction of the President of the United States, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper established U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) today as the eleventh Unified Combatant Command. Gen. John W. Raymond is its Senate confirmed commander.

“To ensure the protection of America’s interests in space we must apply the necessary focus, energy, and resources to the task – and that is exactly what Space Command will do,” said Secretary Esper. “Gen. Raymond is acutely aware of the vital role that space plays in U.S. national security and our way of life and is an ideal choice to lead this new command. Establishing the United States Space Command as a unified combatant command is the next critical step towards the creation of an independent Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

“Assured access to space is vital across the full range of military operations,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. “This step puts us on a path to maintain a competitive advantage in this critical war fighting domain.”

From establishment, Gen. Raymond will remain dual-hatted as Commander, U.S. Space Command, and Commander, Air Force Space Command.

More information can be found at https://www.spacecom.mil.

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Space Command Launches Amid Threats from China, Russia
(Source: Voice of America News; issued Aug 29, 2019)
PENTAGON --- The United States Space Command officially launched Thursday to defend the military’s “ultimate high ground.”

“This is a landmark day — one that recognized the centrality of space to America’s national security and defense,” U.S. President Donald Trump said during the establishment ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.

The military hopes the new command will improve the defense of American interests in outer space.

Space command aims to reorganize and improve U.S. space defenses and technologies, amid increasing aggression from Russia and China.

“Our adversaries are weaponizing Earth’s orbits with new technologies, targeting American satellites that are critical to both battlefield operations and our way of life at home,” Trump said.

Defense concerns

Secretaries of defense have long raised concerns about the need for increased defense capabilities in space.

Earlier this year, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan warned the U.S. military “is not moving fast enough to stay ahead” of rivals China and Russia in space.

He said Beijing and Moscow were creating weapons to “hold American space capabilities at risk,” adding that the U.S. is “not capable of tracking” some of China’s rapid advancements in space weapons, particularly in hypersonic weapons.

Last year then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis suggested China’s use of a ground-based missile to destroy one of its own nonfunctional weather satellites in 2007 was a calculated demonstration to the United States of Chinese capabilities.

“We understand the message that China was sending — that they could take out a satellite in space,” Mattis said during a trip to Brazil.

Critical to military, commerce

The realm of space hits closer than some may realize, essential to everyday activities from navigation to banking.

Space assets are also critical to military missions, from launching missiles to collecting intelligence.

Space Command is the military’s 11th combatant command, each tasked with either a geographic mission or a functional mission.

The U.S. military previously had a Space Command, but it was dissolved in 2002, and its functions were turned over to a reorganized U.S. Strategic Command. That command’s primary mission remains a deterrent against global threats, including maintaining the U.S. military’s nuclear arsenal.

Administration officials say re-establishing the command brings them closer to realizing one of the president’s major goals, creating a new military branch to train, organize and equip a force specializing in space defense.

“As a unified combatant command, the United States Space Command is the next crucial step towards the creation of an independent Space Force as an additional armed service,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Thursday.

The Space Force would be the first new military branch since the Air Force was established shortly after World War II.

But a future Space Force needs Congress to approve it and fund it, and that hasn’t happened yet.

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