Raymond told reporters in a briefing before the ceremony that protecting America’s assets in space, including the satellites the military depends on a range of things from missile defence to communications, was a critical mission of the new command.
“I really believe we are at strategic inflection point, where there is nothing that we do in the joint coalition force that isn’t enabled by space. Zero,” he said.
The US Space Command is the nation’s 11th combatant command. Others include geographic commands, such as Central Command, Africa Command and Indo-Pacific Command, which oversee operations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, respectively; and functional commands, such as Transportation Command, which oversees logistics across the military, and Strategic Command, which controls the nuclear arsenal.
Before Thursday, Africa Command was the most recently created, in 2007.
As of Thursday, Space Command counted 287 personnel assigned to it, largely made up of those currently deployed with a unit of US Strategic Command devoted to space. Raymond said the Air Force is still deciding where to locate Space Command’s headquarters among six US bases.
The United States military has had a Space Command before. It was launched in 1985 and disestablished in 2002 as the Pentagon reorganised in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Raymond said the new version is a “different command built for a different environment.”
In particular, he cited advances by Russia and China that have rendered space a contested domain where the United States faces threats that it didn’t before, from the jamming of GPS and communications satellites to the possibility those satellites could be shot down.
He cited a 2007 test in which China used a missile fired from Earth to destroy one of its own weather satellites.
Fighting extraterrestrial life in outer space is not one of the new command’s missions, said Stephen Kitay, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy.
“Space Command and the United States Space Force, at the end of the day, is focused on life here on Earth, because space does impact . . . our way of war and our way of life,” Kitay said.
The Washington Post