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Dunford: Spacecom Allows U.S. to Retain 'High Ground'

By Jim Garamone

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presided over the presentation of the colors of U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said at today's ceremony that reestablishing Spacecom is supremely important, allowing the United States to retain the high ground in this new world of warfare.

Space is now contested, and for security's sake, the United States must retain its leadership in that domain, the chairman said.

Dunford looked back in history, noting that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite, in 1957. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. The United States correctly felt the nation was "falling behind in technological capability," the general said.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy energized the nation, saying the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. The cooperation of all branches of government and industry saw that goal succeed with Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind" on July 20, 1969.

The U.S. military is facing another "Sputnik moment" today, Dunford said. 

After decades of uncontested access to space, Russia and China pose challenges — developing electronic, directed energy weapons, as well as anti-satellite capabilities and more. 

"The reestablishment of Space Command should be understood as part of a broader effort to maintain our nation's competitive advantage in space," the chairman said. 

U.S. Space Command is an integral part of today's National Security Strategy. Great power competition with Russia and China has returned. Iran and North Korea pose lesser, but still dangerous, challenges. Space Command must deter enemies from challenging U.S. space capabilities, and, if that fails, be able to soundly defeat any threat.

We formed this command as a foundational element of more effective joint warfighting."
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"The competitive advantage we enjoyed after the Cold War has eroded," Dunford said. "For the last two decades, our adversaries have studied us and developed capabilities designed to exploit what they perceive to be our vulnerabilities. That dynamic has been particularly evident in space." Space is key to military command and control, missile warning, navigation, targeting and overall military capabilities. 

Maintaining dominance in space means the United States will be able to fight and win on future battlefields. "We didn't reestablish Space Command simply to compete in space," Dunford said. "We formed this command as a foundational element of more effective joint warfighting."

In his remarks, Spacecom Commander Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond said this is a strategic inflection point for the military. "There is nothing that we do as a joint force that isn’t enabled by space, and yet we can no longer have the luxury of assuming space superiority," he said. The new command will focus on retaining and maintaining that superiority, he said.

Raymond said the new combatant command is built on the frame of the first U.S. Space Command, which was formed in 1985 and deactivated in 2002. But it is not the command of 2002, he added, because the world has changed. The command has been built "to compete, deter and plan in an extremely complex and quickly evolving strategic environment," he said.

The command will deter conflict from beginning in or extending into space, Raymond said, and it will defend U.S. and allied interests. "To meet the new National Defense Strategy, the new Space Command has a much sharper focus on offensive and defensive operations," he said.

The command will deliver space combat power to the joint and combined force, the general said, and it will develop ready and lethal space forces.

"A warrior ethos is a combat enabler," he said. "We will take our existing space warfighting culture — established in the original Space Command, honed in the Cold War, hardened in the many conflicts since, and adapted to today's strategic environment. We will further embed that warfighting culture in our greatest resource: our people," he said.

Watch the entire ceremony:


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