The United States of America has made the US Space Command official after a ceremony led by President Donald Trump and the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed documents that formally established the organization.
Making the event more ceremonious, a new flag for the command was also unveiled where it featured an American Eagle soaring over the planet Earth.
Space Command will be a new unified combatant command within the military that will be entirely focused on space. The organization will be run by a four-star general, and it will be responsible for setting the US’s military agenda and doctrine for space in the years to come.
“As the newest combatant command Space Command will defend America’s vital interests in space — the next war-fighting domain,” Trump said during the ceremony. “And I think that’s pretty obvious to everybody. It’s all about space.”
Space Command will become the 11th combatant command, joining the ranks of US Central Command, which oversees operations in the The Middle East, and US Special Operations Command, which oversees Special Operations Forces.
The command will initially consist of 287 personnel. However, its final location has yet to be determined but its responsibilities will be transferred primarily from the US Strategic Command.
For Trump, the establishment of the US Space Command is a proactive decision that will imminently address “the dangers” from “those who wish to harm the United States – to seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space.” The President now calls it “a whole different ballgame.”
The space command’s operations will include the enabling of satellite-based navigation and communications for troops in the field, providing warning of missile launches abroad and defending against disruption by anti-satellite weapons, Trump says.
Notably, Trump has been advocating for the establishment of the Space Command ever since he emphasized the purpose stating the both China and Russia has proven to be a threat against the country’s satellite system, which is a crucial factor in day-to-day operations of the military.
Particularly, a responsibility of the Space Command is to create strategically plans and protocols that will address the foreboding threats that could result from space.
So in the instance where Chinese or Russian military, for example, have successfully hacked or disrupted a satellite, US SpaceCom forces will know how to proceed and tackle the issue at hand.
“We no longer have the luxury of treating space superiority as a given,” Air Force Gen. John Raymond, the incoming US Space Command commander, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.
“There is a growing threat. The scope, scale and complexity is concerning,” Raymond said, adding that “there’s reversible jamming of GPS communication satellites. There’s directed energy threats. There’s missiles that can be shot from the ground and blow up a satellite, like was demonstrated by China in 2007. So there’s a full spectrum. We’re concerned about all of those threats.”
In accordance, Trump says that SpaceCom will ensure America’s dominance in space, so that America is “never questioned and never threatened, because we know the best way to prevent conflict is to prepare for victory.”
Furthermore, Trump went on to explain that SpaceCom will soon be followed by the establishment of the as the sixth branch of the United States armed forces, the US Space Force.
For now, Space Force is to receive the final approval of Congress, which discussion surrounding the topic would start after Congress returns from its summer recess. That decision may come once Congress decides on the next National Defense Authorization Act for 2020.
Once official, however, the Space Force would join the army, navy, air force, marine corps and coast guard.
Essentially, the Space Command is a different entity from the Space Force. Mainly because Space Force will be focused on organizing, training, and equipping the necessary tools needed for space crime-fighting. Particularly, satellites for surveillance, communication, navigation, and more.
A combatant command, on the other hand, is focused on higher-level war-fighting. For space, that entails figuring out how to integrate the use of these satellites into the Department of Defense’s missions.
Thursday’s 10-minute ceremony was attended by the vice-president, Mike Pence; the defense secretary, Mark Esper; and Gen Raymond, who will serve as the first commander of US space command. He currently heads air force space command
For now, the newly minted Space Command will be in full swing, starting today. “Just as we have recognized land, air, sea, and cyber as vital warfighting domains, we will now treat space as an independent region, overseen by a new unified geographic combatant command,” said Trump.