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News | Feb. 29, 2024

Whiting highlights investments needed for enduring advantage

U.S. Space Command

U.S. Space Force Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, U.S. Space Command commander, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., February 29.
Testifying alongside U.S. Air Force Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Whiting outlined the command’s increasingly vital role in national security.
“U.S. Space Command, working with Allies and Partners, has a moral responsibility to the Joint Force, the Nation, and our Allies to provide space capabilities through all levels of conflict,” Whiting said in his opening statement.
Given the Joint Force’s reliance on these capabilities, “USSPACECOM must protect and defend our space systems to ensure they are available against the growing threats arrayed against us,” he said. “Inherent in this responsibility is our ability to protect the Joint Force from space-enabled attack.”
In his inaugural testimony as commander, he described his top five priority requirements that are key to delivering USSPACECOM’s Unified Command Plan responsibilities.
1)         Resilient and timely operational command and control
2)         Integrated space fires and protection
3)         Modernized agile electronic warfare architectures
4)         Enhanced battlespace awareness for space warfare
5)         Cyber defense of space systems
These capabilities require long-term investment, Whiting noted, to ensure the United States does not cede its advantage to strategic competitors in the space domain.
“The People’s Republic of China and Russia now hold at risk U.S. and Allied space capabilities because they know our Joint Force relies on space to fight the way we want – precisely, lethally, effectively, and efficiently,” he said.
USSPACECOM’s global network of Allies and Partners is considered an asymmetric advantage, and the PRC has taken note, expanding their own reach beyond East Asia, and partnering with countries in Africa and South America through data-sharing and national space programs.
This collaboration with other nations isn’t inherently problematic. However, as a leader in space, the United States encourages all spacefaring nations to act sustainably, securely, and safely, in part by increasing the transparency of their actions. An unwillingness to participate in international norms, paired with the development of dual-use technologies and dramatic increase in space capabilities, suggests that Beijing seeks to advance their own strategic ambitions, posing a risk to U.S. and Allied space architecture.
Concurrently, Russia continues to develop, test, and demonstrate their counterspace capabilities, from electromagnetic warfare systems, including directed energy weapons and satellite communications jammers, offensive cyberspace capabilities, and on-orbit and ground-based anti-satellite systems, intended to disrupt, threaten, and destroy space targets or otherwise deny freedom of action in space.
Such a dynamic threat environment requires investment in advanced space and missile defense capabilities, and offsetting these threats cannot wait. Because of this, USSPACECOM collaborates with many partners across all sectors to achieve its mission.
“Today USSPACECOM seeks to expand competitive advantages over the PRC and Russia by leveraging every available asset of the interagency, the rest of the Joint Force, our Allies, and our Partners in U.S. commercial industry and academia,” emphasized Whiting. “No one department, service, command, even country can do all the things we need to do… we partner as widely as we can with like-minded countries and organizations because it maximizes our ability to execute our mission.”
As an example, the command continues to expand its Space Situational Awareness data-sharing agreements with other nations, growing to 41 nations with the addition of Poland, Peru and Qatar in fiscal year 2023. Additionally, the command has agreements with seven academic institutions and more than 130 commercial satellite owner-operators and service providers. This includes 10 sharing agreements with international commercial aerospace companies in Brazil, France, India and Poland.
“The sharing of vital space information leads to greater domain awareness and transparency,” said Whiting.
Further, the command continues to collaborate with commercial mission partners through the Commercial Integration Cell at the Combined Space Operations Center in California and the Joint Commercial Operations Cell in Colorado.
While the collective strength of partnerships is foundational to the success of the command, it is also dependent upon the continued investment in capabilities to support integrated deterrence.
“U.S. Space Command remains the best military spacepower in the world. To ensure success in the contested space environment we now find ourselves in, it is vital we are delivered improved capabilities and capacities,” Whiting said. “With delivery of increased capability and capacity... USSPACECOM will attain the required enduring advantage over any adversary determined to conduct war in outer space, thus ensuring defense of homeland and protection of the Joint Force and our allies.”
Read the FY2025 Priorities and Posture statement of the United States Space Command HERE.