Pentagon considering combatant command for space warfare

The Defense Department is weighing whether to create a new combatant command for space warfare in what would be the latest move by the Pentagon to counter Chinese and Russian militarization of space.

It’s one of several options the Pentagon is currently considering, according to a new DoD report that was sent to Congress last week. At present, space forces are distributed throughout the military and intelligence community.

The report notes that DoD officials are analyzing how “best to posture joint space forces to support joint campaigns, including those that are integrated trans-regionally from across two or more geographic combatant commands, multi-domain operations, and warfighting in the space domain.”

 

Right now there are two types of combatant commands: Geographic COCOMs that oversee military ops in six parts of the world; and functional commands that include U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Transportation Command that manage operations covering several geographic regions (or the entire planet).

The DoD is considering whether to create a Space COCOM or whether to make space a subunified command (like Cyber Command), the report notes. All space forces had been housed under U.S. Space Command, a unified COCOM, until 2002.

The Pentagon is looking into whether space should have its own combatant command or subunified command (like Cyber Command), the report says. Space forces were grouped under U.S. Space Command, a unified combatant command, until 2002.

“The Air Force groups its space forces under Air Force Space Command. The Army groups its space forces under the Space and Missile Defense Command. Both groups report up to STRATCOM. Navy space activities are under the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command,” said an American media report. [source]

Analysis: Last summer a bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed the creation of a new Space Corps, which would have been the first new uniformed military service in 70 years, but the Pentagon opposed it. Supporters claimed the Pentagon had not done enough to address new and emerging threats in space, and believed that the creation of an entirely new space corps would get that on track.

Pentagon officials pushed back on the idea saying they didn’t want to create a new military bureaucracy in a time of war (such as it is). But Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said it is vitally important to create a new service branch dedicated specifically to fighting and winning in the outer atmosphere battlespace.

If our satellites were attacked, we would be blinded, deaf, and impotent before we even knew what hit us,” he said. “Everything from ATM machines to Zumwalt destroyers would be paralyzed.”

Adds Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, China and Russia have recently achieved “peer status” with the United States in space. The worry is that either country could neutralize key U.S. satellites. “They recognize they cannot take us on and it be a fair fight,” Rogers said. “But if they take our eyes and ears out, they actually have a chance to have a fair fight with the United States. We don’t ever want to get into a war where we have a fair fight.” [source]

Samuel Culper is a former Intelligence NCO and contractor. Iraq(x1)/Afghanistan(x2). He now studies intelligence and warfare.

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