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NEWS | May 30, 2024

U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander highlights key alliance at Australian Space Summit

By Capt. Keith Peden, Pacific Air Forces

Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander, participated in the Australian Space Summit at the International Convention Center in Sydney, Australia, May 27-28.

The Australian Space Summit aimed to provide presentation to critical funding issues and unveil fresh opportunities for international collaboration with the goal of growing Australia’s space sector.

During the two-day event that explored space collaboration and competition in the Pacific, Mastalir delivered a keynote address and participated in panels which discussed space capabilities and the U.S.-Australian alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

Mastalir opened his keynote address by highlighting the importance and growth of space specialties in industry and national security sectors and spoke on the value of space support toward global economy and natural disaster response.

“Space capabilities are a critical enabler of national security,” said Mastalir. “U.S. and allied forces rely heavily on space-based capabilities to project and employ power globally. That’s why we’re moving rapidly toward becoming more resilient and interoperable with our allies and partners as we prepare the joint force for great power competition with our focus on the Indo-Pacific.”

Joining Mastalir on the panel was Royal Australian Air Force Maj. Gen. Gregory Novak, Defence Space Command, Australian Defence Forces commander. The panel focused on emphasizing collaboration as a critical component in enhancing the U.S.-Australian partnership for securing the Indo-Pacific.

“There are many similarities in what we’re doing here,” said Novak. “The space domain has always been a strong part of the U.S.-Australian military-to-military relationship and our alliance. One thing that struck me over the past six months is just how much it’s deepened and broadened over that time.”

On the panel, Mastalir and Novak both highlighted space operations in the Pacific region while exploring how Space Force components interact with their counterparts in allied countries. The panel also provided examples of recent and planned coalition operations that benefit all participants.

“Last year, we executed Exercise Pacific Sentry together. It was the most integrated component-level exercise we have executed to date, with a campaign plan synchronized across the Joint Forced Space Component commanders in Australia, Hawaii and California and exchange officers embedded in the operational planning cells across those locations,” said Mastalir.

Mastalir then highlighted the expansion of trilateral exercise Keen Edge that involved collaboration between the U.S., Australia and Japan, while noting the value in additional multilateral exercises in the future.

The panel members went on to discuss the importance of allied interoperability for the promotion of security and stability within the region. Both commanders shed light on why the rules-based international order is critical in supporting stability in the Pacific and discussed how a free and open Indo-Pacific is upheld by space efforts.

​“The interests we pursue are all about assured access to space,” said Novak. “They are about promoting security and stability and we do that through encouraging responsible behaviors and doing everything we can as a collective to invest in norms that assure that access, which is ultimately in everyone’s interest.”