HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Adversaries have continually found ways to threaten the Army and U.S. forces, not only from the land air, and sea but through space.
“The threat is growing,” said Army Gen. James Dickinson commander of U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. “It's [rising] in numbers and more complexities than ever before, and the joint force must have relevant and timely [assets] for space superiority.”
USSPACECOM, comprised of Soldiers and members of each military branch, enables the Army’s access to space while also defending the joint force from space attacks.
To combat celestial threats and achieve space superiority, USSPACECOM has explored incorporating non-traditional sensors such as the Army Navy/Transportable 2 radars, a missile defense radar that can detect, track and disrupt ballistic missiles, and ships that have robust military defense capabilities such as Aegis Ballistic Defense Missile System vessels.
Additionally, Dickinson outlined how USSPACECOM plays a critical role in U.S. forces’ goal of outpacing adversaries in all domains during the 2023 Land Power in the Pacific (LANPAC) Conference in Honolulu March 16. The command connects air, land and sea capabilities to those in cyber.
Dickinson, who spoke to an audience with militaries from 30 nations, said partner countries aid U.S. forces in deterring adversaries through shared capabilities in space. The command currently has 175 situational and space agreements with partner nations. In addition, USSPACECOM has memorandums of understanding agreements with the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, deepening relationships with those nations, Dickinson said.
“Quite frankly I think integration is the key to all-domain dominance,” said Dickinson, who has served as USSPACECOM commander since August 2020. “And we cannot discuss integration without including our allies and partners.”
“Our mission partners expand our warfighting capability and capacity, creating dilemmas for potential adversaries.”
USSPACECOM has liaison and exchange officers from Japan, Canada, the UK, France and Germany stationed at its headquarters. Combined with its commercial partnerships, cooperation with ally nations help the command integrate the joint force and forms the basis for all-domain dominance.
In August 2022, Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commander of Space and Missile Defense Command, Lt. Gen. Maria Barrett, Army Cyber Command and Lt. Gen. Jon Braga, leader of Army Special Operations Command, formed the Army’s “influence” triad.
The three Army commands integrated their capabilities together to influence multi-domain operations while augmenting the joint force’s ability to see, stimulate and sense. Dickinson said as a result of that combined effort, and the Army’s annual series of joint, multi-domain experiments, Project Convergence, the Army has seen rapid growth in training and concept development.
“At USSPACECOMM, we see this relationship as critical for synchronizing actions across the joint, and allied and partner force,” Dickinson said. “Not only are our space operations global, they're also multi domain. The first engagements of a conflict with a peer competitor may occur across the space architecture.”
The combined efforts will help the command achieve all-domain dominance while presenting multiple dilemmas to the enemy.
“Our ability to hold adversaries at risk across the spectrum of conflict is key to deterring aggression, and winning in the competition phase,” Dickinson said. “Especially in … space, cyber and special operations. Capabilities can generate nuanced effects anywhere in the world, below the … threshold of war.”
In addition to partnering with the other 10 combatant commands, USSPACECOM maintains close ties with NASA, the Department of Commerce and each of the nation’s military branches. The command serves as the Defense Department’s manager for space flight support, assisting in the recovery of space capsules landing at sea.
USSPACECOM participated in the recovery of the NASA Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft, which landed in the Pacific’s waters near Baja California, Mexico, in December 2022. Airmen and Sailors from USSPACECOM participated in the effort.
“[It] was a very complicated military operation to train, synchronize and execute,” Dickinson said. “But it was critical.”
Dickson said that the command will continue to support ongoing Artemis missions.
USSPACECOM, collaborates with NASA on space traffic management and space domain awareness. For example, USSPACECOM studies the potential impacts of debris and other objects in space on the International Space Station. The command currently monitors 40,000 pieces of space debris.