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News | Feb. 2, 2021

Building space superiority by developing international partnerships

By U.S. Space Command Public Affairs Office

Rear Admiral Mike Bernacchi, U.S. Space Command director of Strategy, Plans and Policy, spoke to a cadre of international military officers, national police and civilian government officials during a Jan. 26 virtual engagement at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C.

The RADM’s presentation focused on some of USSPACECOM’s highest priorities: building and maintaining key relationships, helping them understand the threats posed in the space domain by revisionist regimes and strengthening international interoperability — essentially how USSPACECOM works with international partners to counter that threat.

“As we saw a few months ago with the Russian direct-ascent anti-satellite test, the threat to the space domain is very real and right now," Bernacchi said. "States like Russia and China are actively developing counter-space capabilities to deny the U.S. the advantages of space. That’s where we come in; the United States Space Command serves to protect our way of life as we know it; we are the guardians of space; we deter aggression; we defend U.S. and allied partner interests; and, we defeat our nation’s enemies. The Inter-American dialogue with our Western Hemisphere partners is very important to that deterrence mission by increasing our ability to compete and win against increasing threats to our collective space assets.” 

Bernacchi’s comments come on the heels of a number of important steps the command has taken to increase interoperability among its southern partners. Government and military leaders from USSPACECOM, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru met virtually in November during the Americas Space Conference to facilitate space coordination, cooperation and collaboration amongst the space-faring nations of the Americas.

USSPACECOM built upon its relationship with the Federative Republic of Brazil during a Space Engagement Talk in August. These talks further emphasized the importance of South American nations to the space domain and strengthened the 2018 Space Situational Awareness Data Sharing Agreement signed between the two nations. USSPACECOM, along with the Chilean Air Force and Chilean Joint Chiefs of Defence held similar Space Engagement Talks in October to hone interoperability between the partners and also further aspects of the SSA Data Sharing agreement, which the two countries signed in 2019. In May of 2020, USSPACECOM and the Republic of Peru also signed an SSA Data Sharing Agreement, adding to the growing partner network to ensure a safe, responsible and sustainable space environment.

“We have been developing partnerships to our South for many years,” Bernacchi said. “To compete against our near-peer competitors, we must more fully integrate our southern neighbors into the conversation. It is essential to ensure that not only our interests, but the interests of Central and South America are protected against international threats.

“We have found ways, despite this COVID environment, to both connect and advance our relationships by facilitating dialogue on our common interest space topics such as space situational awareness, cooperation and planning, partnering with the commercial space industry, and training and education," Bernacchi added.

The Inter-American Defense College, formed in 1962, is an international educational institution operating as an element of the Organization of American States through the Inter-American Defense Board. The faculty and students of the college are from across the Western Hemisphere. Sixteen nations attended the Jan. 26 event. 

Bernacchi, the senior-most member of the U.S. Navy on the USSPACECOM staff and previously served as commander of Submarine Group 10.