President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 18 that directed the Department of Defense to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed services. Soon after, Russia and China stepped forward to criticize the move—and for those who understand the background of the issue, the countries’ statements were both hypocritical and misleading.
The head of Russia’s Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, Viktor Bondarev, said on June 19, according to Russia Today that the “militarization of space is a way to disaster.” Russia is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the United States violates the outer space treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in orbit, Bondarev said.
Of course, there has not yet been any announcement on the U.S. side about putting weapons of mass destruction in orbit—unless Bondarev knows something we do not—and, according to the state-run Sputnik news agency, Russia has already been actively militarizing space, having announced only recently its plans to build an orbital space laser capable of “evaporating targets in orbit.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also chimed in and told reporters on June 19, according to the Washington Examiner, that “China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space and opposes the placement of weapons and an arms race in outer space.”
“In particular, we oppose turning outer space into a battlefield,” Geng said.
Geng ironically gave his statements the same day that cybersecurity company Symantec uncovered a Chinese espionage campaign has been breaching and infecting computers that monitor and control satellites. Technologies such as this would fall under the Chinese regime’s secretive “Assassin’s Mace” program designed to rapidly win a war through surprise attack and by disabling technologies crucial to the U.S. military such as satellites.
What Geng also failed to note is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) already has an equivalent of Trump’s new Space Force. Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, told The Epoch Times in a recent interview: “China, today, has a Space Force. It has not yet been publicly acknowledged, but it resides under the Strategic Support Force, the latest branch of the People’s Liberation Army.”
The CCP has also long demonstrated its development of and willingness to use space weapons, going back to 2007, when it destroyed a Chinese weather satellite. Fisher noted that the individual who commanded the Chinese space launch facility behind the weapon test has since become the first commander of the Chinese equivalent of the Space Force.
Recent media reports suggest something bigger may also be at play, to which Trump’s executive order may be related. The Washington Free Beacon reported on May 25 that it was able to view new legislation showing that Congress ordered the Pentagon “to immediately begin construction of space-based missile interceptors,” in response to threats from several countries, including North Korea, China, and Iran.
It quotes Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) stating that a space defense system has long been needed, yet “partisan division and bureaucratic inertia have prevented us from taking the critical steps to develop this technology, which is necessary to protect the American people from the weapons being stockpiled by our adversaries at this very moment.”
The increased threats were highlighted by Rebeccah Heinrichs, a national security and missile defense expert at the Hudson Institute, in a recent essay. “Adversaries are exploiting U.S. vulnerabilities in space in a variety of ways, but in particular, adversaries are advancing in the area of missile development including direct-ascent anti-satellites,” Heinrichs writes.
“To close the gaping holes in U.S. defensive capabilities the United States must fully utilize space across domains to protect what the United States values most: the U.S. homeland, deployed forces, allies, and assets located in space.
“Specifically, it is time for the United States to move from a policy of providing a limited missile defense capability to one that is robust, and the most effective way to do that is to deploy a satellite constellation in space that provides sensor coverage as well as a kinetic kill capability.”