The United States Air Force is carrying out various reforms, including the creation of a new post for a three-star general. The purpose is to be adequately prepared for eventual war in space. The various changes include the restructuration and formation of the space war command center. In other words, get ready for Star Wars.
Now, as China and Russia aggressively try to challenge US superiority in space with ambitious military space programs, the power struggle threatens to unleash a conflict that could paralyze space-based planetary infrastructure. And even though it might begin in space, such a conflict would easily ignite a widespread war on Earth.
This new measure comes amid criticism from a number of lawmakers who claim that the ‘existing’ military branch is not properly prepared to fight in space, an area that attracts military ambitions from not only the US but Russia and China as well. Interestingly, in 2007, China tested an anti-satellite missile and successfully destroyed one of its orbiting weather satellites. It was a message to the world of its new capabilities and a grave concern to the U.S. military.
Meet the National Space Defense Center, the new name for the Pentagon’s space war command center.
According to General Jay Raymond, Air Force Space Command chief, the new post will have organizational, training and equipping capabilities to meet the challenges that may develop in space. The Air Force works in conjunction with the National Reconnaissance Office to create a common space project known as a “war domain”.
According to Defense One, the new general will “come to work every day focusing on this: making sure that we can organize, train, and equip our forces to meet the challenges in this domain,” Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command.
There was also a change of name of the Pentagon space command (from “Inter-Institutional Center of Joint Space Operations” to “Center of National Space Defense”). The reorganization expects space projects to have a greater force to compete for budget funds over other terrestrial projects.
“It is the job of the Armed Services Committees to recognize when the bureaucracy is broken, and to then see that it is fixed,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee. “At the end of the day, we need to align accountability with authority, reduce bureaucracy, and deconflict with other mission areas in order to prioritize the space investments and the people charged with the warfighting domain of space.”
Interestingly, the idea of a war in space is not new. Fearing the launch of Soviet nuclear weapons from orbit, the US began testing anti-satellite weapons in the late 1950s. It even tested nuclear bombs in space before orbital weapons of mass destruction were banned by the UN Outer Space Treaty in 1967.
After orbital weapons of mass destruction were banned by the UN, space-based surveillance became a crucial component of the Cold War, where satellites serve as a part of elaborate early warning systems for the deployment or launching of ground-based nuclear weapons. For most of the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed and tested “space mines”, which were self-detonating ships that could search and destroy US spy satellites by machine-gunning them.
In the 1980s, the militarization of space peaked with the Reagan administration’s multimillion-dollar Strategic Defense Initiative, known as Star Wars, which aimed to develop orbital countermeasures for Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In 1985, the United States Air Force carried out a clear demonstration of its formidable capabilities when an F-15 fighter jet launched a missile that ‘removed from orbit’ a defective US satellite.
Image Credit: Defense Daily Tribune