Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said that in six months, the Pentagon is planning to open a new space war operations center. According to Daily Mail, the new center is part of a $5 billion funding package for military space security.
This new center would be an enhancement of the Joint Space Operations Center located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California and would allow for the tracking of military and spy satellites. This would let U.S. intelligence and military collaborate more effectively in order to improve defensive capabilities. Some believe that the center is being created in response to the anti-satellite tests being conducted by China.
According to Gizmodo, Secretary Work stated that new center would not only be able to defend against attacks from space, but it would also receive communications from government satellites, allowing for better geospatial intelligence gathering. For example, it could receive reconnaissance images that could coordinate strategic plans for earthly ground assaults.
Work said, “If an adversary were able to take space away from us, reconnaissance efforts in potential conflict zones would be critically weakened. Space was once a virtual sanctuary. It must now be considered a contested operational domain in ways that we haven’t had to think about in the past.”
Besides responding to a potential Chinese threat, the space program could aid the U.S. in combating recent Russian aggression. “The second driver is Russia’s recent use of hybrid warfare to annex Crimea and undermine Ukraine, and otherwise antagonize NATO. The U.S. is interpreting that as a signal that international law and norms may be less effective for restraining potential adversaries,” said the Secretary.
“If Russian soldiers are snapping pictures of themselves in war zones and posting them in social media sites, we want to know exactly where those pictures were taken,” Work said. He was referring to a Russian soldier named Alexander Sotkin who uploaded pictures from Ukraine of military equipment made by Russia. This information was useful to identify that it was Russian soldiers and equipment operating in Ukraine while Moscow denied its resources were located there.
Air Force General Lester Lyles described the Pentagon’s focus on space by referring to it as the “the ultimate higher ground.” Lyles hopes that the center will allow the Pentagon to transform the satellite system of the U.S. into an important new vantage point.