Space Command Lt. Gen. John Shaw says space is ‘at risk’
What are these biggest threats?
Our main potential adversaries are China and Russia, which have clearly already demonstrated multiple ways to put our space capabilities at risk. We saw it in 2007, when China tested an anti-satellite missile that blew up one of its own satellites. By the way, today we are still tracking thousands of debris from this test. This poses a threat to space safety and navigation. Not a good event.
And then, more recently, Russia did the same thing on November 15 last year, blew up one of its satellites. And now we have hundreds more pieces of debris that we’re tracking because of it. In addition, they continue to develop other capabilities: satellite and navigation signal jamming capabilities; energy capabilities directed from the ground that could be used to dazzle, disrupt, or even damage satellites in low Earth orbit, etc.
So why are China and Russia doing this? Because they see what space means to modern warfare and how dependent our ground forces are on space capabilities. And they want to keep them in danger, because they’re actually afraid of the capabilities that our space assets bring.
What is the origin of this new article that you have written? It’s far-reaching, with references to history, philosophy and literature – it certainly doesn’t read like a dry military report.
Oh, success! At least in your opinion.
With the new United States Space Command in 2019, the President signed off on the mission given to us, which included: Hey, you are now responsible for this area 100 kilometers above sea level, and upwards and outwards indefinitely. Which, if you do the math, is a very, very large area. It’s like the whole universe minus the planet and some atmosphere. It’s a lot. Now, of course, the relevant battlespace is not that big. At least not yet.
When you, as a military commander, are assigned to an area of responsibility, it changes your focus a bit. It’s not just about providing abilities to the earth spheres that are outside of the zone; you are now responsible for the activities, threats and other dangers that exist in this area of responsibility. And that goes back to time immemorial. In ancient times, if the Roman Caesar assigned one of his legions an area of responsibility, they were expected to make sure they knew what was going on in that area, pacify it, and keep it safe. safe from threat. If they didn’t, they’d probably get fired or worse.
Now that we have an area of physical responsibility, that means we need to understand what’s going on there. We have to “patrol” it. I put that in quotes, because we do it with robotic spacecraft.
I will also point out, as I do in this document, that this is the first time in military history that we have an area of responsibility that is not defined by lines on a geographic map. Technically, etymologically, our AOR is not geographical; they are not lines written on the earth, they are lines among the stars. That’s why I use the word “astrographic”.