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News | Oct. 21, 2022

Dickinson addresses threat, importance of innovation at AFCEA Space Industry Days

By Staff Report U.S. Space Command

U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander, highlighted the importance of innovation and industry partnerships at the 2022 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Space Industry Days conference in Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 20, 2022.

Framing his remarks with the conference’s theme of “Responsive to the Threat – Accelerating Resilient Space Capabilities,” Dickinson spoke to the rapidly changing strategic environment that presents both challenges and opportunities to achieving USSPACECOM’s military objectives.

“We are engaged in an intense competition with our pacing challenge – the Peoples of Republic of China. The CCP will not wait on us…this accelerating change demands rapid development,” Dickinson said, acknowledging the opportunity and strength presented by the command’s Joint-Combined-Partnered approach to operations, “I am looking for partners in industry that can keep pace.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s orbital presence has been steadily increasing since 2019 with 530 spacecraft currently operational, some of which demonstrate satellite-attack capabilities to characterizer and target U.S. and Allied space systems. The evolving and increasingly contested space environment demands innovation and rapid development of capabilities, to which Dickinson called to action partners in industry to “help USSPACECOM not only keep pace but surpass the threats we face.”

The newly released National Security Strategy not only further emphasizes the CCP as the pacing challenge, but acknowledges a need to pursue “a modern industrial and innovation strategy” as a mechanism to counter it. Since USSPACECOM’s establishment, the command has pursued and expanded integrated commercial mission partners across the command. 

For example, the Commercial Integration Cell at Combined Force Space Component Command integrates multiple commercial partners to share real-time information on activities in the space domain.

Similarly, the Joint Commercial Operations center at Joint Task Force – Space Defense is where commercial mission partners are providing additional layers of coverage for USSPACECOM’s Space Domain Awareness mission. Commercial mission partners embedded in the CIC and JCO help USSPACECOM develop a comprehensive threat picture, enabling the command to provide strategic options for the National Command Authority.

Dickinson noted one particular success story where a commercial mission partner tracked China’s satellites SJ-21 and BEIDOU G2 during their rendezvous and proximity operations, docking, maneuver, and release. When SJ-21 broke away, the USSPACECOM partners’ telescope network tracked the space vehicle’s movement 300km above GEO using their proprietary software. 

“This example is significant for two reasons,” Dickinson explained. “First, because the event was detected and characterized by our commercial partners, I’m able to share this in an unclassified setting. Second, it demonstrates the commercial sector’s ability to support USSPACECOM’s mission.  This is precisely what I am looking for in new commercial mission partners – information-sharing, provision of state-of-the-world capabilities and design of state-of-the-art capabilities with the rapidly changing competition environment in mind.”

The composition of U.S. Space Command reflects the diverse skill sets of every branch of the military, and the capacity is bolstered by incorporating the capabilities of external U.S. Government agencies with the global reach of allies and partners. General Dickinson noted that this approach has always been instrumental to America’s successes.

“Military cooperation with the commercial sector is essential to national defense,” he said. “Industry is a solution provider and force multiplier which expands the military’s warfighting capability. USSPACECOM will not go it alone in our commitment to ensure there’s Never A Day Without Space.”

USSPACECOM conducts operations in, from, and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint and Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.