President Trump’s recent directive to establish a space-specific branch of the U.S. Military was met with a mixed reaction in the public and the media, in large part due to a misrepresentation of what this “Space Force” would do, and exactly what kinds of threats it would be tasked with deterring. As SOFREP has covered extensively, the space above our heads has long been militarized — the United States is now simply looking to keep pace in the developing theater.
While debate will continue regarding the most effective way to address orbital threats (establishing a new branch or keeping the tasking under the Air Force’s purview as it currently is), Defense Department officials and experts alike have been touting the growing need for a new and more proactive strategy in space. With America’s defense community and general public increasingly dependent on the constellation of satellites flying above us, America finds itself vulnerable to attack in a way that represents a legitimate existential threat to the nation’s current way of life. It doesn’t take much to interfere with a satellite, and removing just a few from operation could leave the U.S. open to any number of devastating attacks.
In fact, just a few minute interruption in the service of a single satellite could feasibly cripple the nation’s ability to identify and intercept an inbound nuclear missile. The stakes don’t get much higher than that.
Now, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the head of America’s Defense Intelligence Agency, has joined the chorus of officials calling for a more robust space defense strategy. In his remarks at the Defense One Technology Summit in Washington, D.C. this week, he was among the first U.S. officials to directly escalate the accusations being levied at Russia and China’s respective space-based military branches, both of which were stood up in 2015.