Saturday (December 21): The United States has met a mounting 21st century strategic challenge from Russia and China with the creation of a full-fledged US Space Force within the Department of Defense.
Acting on an ambition by President Donald Trump that had met resistance at first, the White House signalled its determination to not cede superiority in a Star Wars-like future of killer satellites and satellite-killer weapons.
Trump made the Space Force’s creation real with the signing of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which set the initial budget for a Pentagon force that will stand equally with the military’s five other branches.
“Going to be a lot of things happening in space, because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump told members of the military gathered for the signing.
The Space Force will be the sixth formal force of the US military, after the Army, Air Force, Navy Marines, and Coast Guard.
Now that recognition is extended to space, a crucial venue for both military spy and communications satellites which will be targeted by adversaries in any conflict, and the possibility of outer-space launch platforms for destructive weapons.
“China and Russia, in particular, are developing a variety of means to exploit perceived US reliance on space-based systems and challenge the US position in space,” it said.
China already demonstrated it could shoot down a satellite with a ground-based missile in 2007.
Iran and North Korea, too, are increasingly able to extend their military activities into space, jamming the communications of adversaries and developing ballistic missile technologies, it noted.