US Activates Space Force Command in Indo–Pacific Amid Tensions With North Korea, China

US Activates Space Force Command in Indo–Pacific Amid Tensions With North Korea, China
U.S. Air Force Space Command Gen. John "Jay" Raymond stands next to the flag of the newly established U.S. Space Command, the sixth national armed service, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Aug. 29, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

The U.S. Space Force activated its first component command in the Indo-Pacific region on Nov. 22, with the goal of deterring aggression in the region, as tensions with China and North Korea continue to rise.

U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific Command joins the U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Army Pacific Command, and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific—all headquartered in Hawaii—as component commands under U.S. Pacific Command, the region’s combatant command.

The Space Command aims “to deter conflict and, if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the joint/combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners,” according to its website.

The component command will conduct mission analysis and planning over the next six months, its commander, Space Force Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, said on Nov. 21, noting that its activation signals the region’s importance to the United States.

“It’s a signal to anybody who would want to undermine either freedom of navigation, freedom of maneuver within a free-and-open Indo-Pacific, or anyone that would want to undermine the international rules-based order that has been the foundation for prosperity for all free nations that choose to participate,” he told reporters ahead of the activation.
The announcement came just days after North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Nov. 18; North Korea’s longest-range missile has the potential ability to carry a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the ICBM launch with his daughter, in her first public appearance, and warned that his country will use nuclear weapons “with all-out confrontation” to counter threats from the United States, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
North Korea contends that a U.S. military presence in the region is proof of U.S. hostility toward the country. Pyongyang has also stated that its recent series of launches were a response to what it called provocative military drills by the United States and South Korea.

China’s Threat

Space Force Gen. Bradley Saltzman, chief of space operations, earlier said the new component at INDOPACOM aims to strengthen U.S. space integration, citing China as the pacing threat, Air & Space Forces Magazine reported.

“We just think space is so critical now that we need a seat at that table,” Saltzman said during a meeting on May 19. “With China being the pacing threat, it was essential that we stand up the service component at INDOPACOM.

“The biggest change is going to be the combatant commander will have a subordinate commander that they can task to effectively integrate space capabilities.”

The Pentagon, in its annual report to Congress published in November 2021, highlighted China’s space and counterspace capabilities.

“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to develop counterspace capabilities—including direct ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, and directed energy capabilities—that can contest or deny an adversary’s access to and operations in the space domain during a crisis or conflict,” the report reads.

One operational space technology in China’s arsenal is a ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, according to the report. In January 2007, China fired an anti-satellite missile against one of its inactive weather satellites, drawing international concern.

“China probably intends to pursue additional ASAT weapons capable of destroying satellites up to geosynchronous Earth orbit,” the report reads.

Mimi Nguyen Ly and Frank Fang contributed to this report.
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer covering U.S. and Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
Related Topics