The US Space Command is the newest unified combatant command of the US military, having been officially reestablished in 2019. Now, its top general came out with five strategic tasks that will help establish and propel the new command to the future.
Before delving into the five tasks, it’s important to distinguish between the US Space Command and the Space Force.
The former is a unified combatant command—like US Central Command or US Southern Command—responsible for all military operations in the space domain; it is comprised of troops from across the military and not just Guardians (the nomenclature for those serving in the Space Force).
The Space Force is a service—like the Navy or the Army—tasked with organizing, training, and equipping guardians; its primary mission-sets are Space Security, Combat Power Projection, Space Mobility, and Logistics, Information Mobility, and Space Domain Awareness.
In a talk at the virtual Aerospace Nation event, Army General James H. Dickinson, the commander of US Space Command, gave a short preview of the five tasks, which he called “the commander’s strategic narrative,” on how to ensure space superiority.
First, the US must understand the competition and then educate the joint force on the competitors’ capabilities.
“We have to train those warfighters to outmaneuver our enemies, and we have to innovate using bold approaches like disruptive thinking,” Gen. Dickinson said about the first task.
Second, the US space capability has to reach full operational capacity and also create and foster a warfighting culture—in other words, create an esprit de corps for the new force.
Third, and arguably one of the more important tasks, the US Space Command has to create and foster relationships with other services, combatant commands, agencies, and even the private sector.
“The complexity of operations in the largest and most challenging warfighting environment requires us to strengthen our alliances and attract new partners,” Dickinson said about the third task. “We must enhance interoperability through a joint combined and a partner approach to space warfighting operations. And we must unite around a compelling narrative focused predominantly on the concept that we work actively to retain and strengthen our space superiority. That narrative must also promote responsible behavior, responsible behaviors in space, over long periods of time, so they gradually become international norms.”
Fourth, the US military and intelligence communities have to ensure digital superiority.
And finally, to be most effective, the US should integrate its government and commercial space and digital might and intellect.
“This integration will help us promote responsible behaviors in space, advocate for greater space capabilities, and collaborate to solve mutual challenges with all elements of national power,” Dickinson added.
As the commander of the US Space Command said, America’s near-peer competitors have been steadily militarizing space. As a result, the US ought to create and invest in the capabilities that would ensure unhindered operations in the domain.